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Two interesting temples in La Union

The church of Luna, La Union is also the shrine of the said to be miraculous 'Lady of Namacpacan'

Thunderbird Resorts invited us bloggers in a familiarization tour of their resort in Poro Point, La Union and took us to the tourism sites in the surrounding area of San Fernando and Luna. It was an opportunity to visit what I wanted to go to: the Pindangan Ruins and the Luna watchtower. Both are temples, a Catholic church, and the other a Taoist (Chinese) temple. Both are equally interesting not only in terms of architecture but also the devotions done by their respective faithful.

On a beautiful morning, as one approaches the town center of Luna, the imposing Graeco-Roman style church with baroque features always catches ones attention and makes the visitor stare in awe. It is symmetrically beautiful, standing proud facing the sun. The pointed twin belfries support its upwards movement but is balanced by the rounded pediment.

The parish church of Sta. Catalina de Alejandria has for centuries been an important pilgrimage site for the Our Lady of Namacpacan, affectionately called by the locals as Apo Baket in reverence. Every year, several devotees visit and pay homage to the icon, said to be miraculous. A well is also a favorite spot where they get blessed water.

Ma-cho Temple in San Fernando, La Union is a chinese structure with an interesting connection with Catholic practices

Nothing macho about this but the Taoist Ma-cho Temple in San Fernando of the same province is derived from the name of the Chinese diety, Ma Cho. In this temple, found atop a short hill, is an 8 inch statue that devotees believe protect and watch out for them in times of distress at the high seas.

The structure is typical Chinese with its tiled roofing, curved eaves and dragon decor at the top. Around the area are statues of animals that are said to be lucky as well as carved images of 18 saints. Within the one hectare compound are well manicured gardens that many local lovers use as date areas. At its front is a beautiful gate that gives a good view of the sea.

What is interesting, however, is that the Chinese community believe that the Ma Cho icon is one and the same with the image of another miraculous, but Catholic statue of the Virgin enshrined at Caysasay in Taal, Batangas. Thus, every September, both icons are transported, alternately, in La Union and Batangas and are venerated by these images’s devotees.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

7 Comments

  1. Mark Segador
    August 27, 2011 @ 10:07

    would love to revisit La Union. I was intrigued with the Chinese community’s belief that the Ma Cho icon is the same with the image of the Virgin at Cagsaysay. great post!

  2. Chris
    August 27, 2011 @ 10:21

    It’s so serendipitous that I’d spot this entry the day after talking with some of my Filipino friends about wanting to do a tour of the churches in the Philippines, haha.

    Beautiful shots. I’m fascinated with the architecture associated with religious buildings like this.

  3. Karl
    August 28, 2011 @ 12:01

    majestic. it may not be as colossal as other catholic churches but that one’s beautiful for being symmetrical, indeed. i reckon that it’s being maintained well because the facade looks fresh. how far is that from the ruins by the beach?

  4. estan
    August 28, 2011 @ 22:46

    @karl, i think its not really far. a few minutes probably.

    thanx guys. i’m interested to go back to this place probably by september.

  5. Tripper10 : Tripsiders
    September 13, 2011 @ 10:45

    Wow, hindi man sa pinas ah…
    Ganda… 🙂

  6. » La Union’s delicious halo-halo de iloko | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    September 30, 2011 @ 12:24

    […] Ruins and the Luna watchtower. It was raining when we arrived in San Fernando from Luna’s Spanish colonial era church and watchtower. Tired and weary from the day’s trip around the province, we were hungry and […]

  7. » The Thunderbird series wrap-up | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    September 30, 2011 @ 13:13

    […] there are interesting religious architecture that can be found in its municipalities. The imposing Luna Church not only is an edifice worth visiting but it is home to the miraculous Our Lady of Namacpacan which […]

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