When my husband and I observed Lenten traditions back home in Manila, I told him that one of the churches I wanted to go to was the one in P.Burgos. He said, “There’s a church in P. Burgos?” I told him it’s one of the centuries-old churches in Manila. “It’s behind a wall so it’s easy to miss. I used to go there as a child to watch the panata“, I said.
Panata means pledge, which translates into a different practice during Holy Week made known by men having themselves nailed to a cross, people whipping themselves or walking barefoot around town carrying the crucifix. Well, we din’t really see that in our part of the city.
What I did use to watch as a child outside this church were beautifully lit processions of saints on decorated carriages, people praying while holding candles walking down the street and mothers and daughters shrouded and dressed in black with a crown of leaves over their heads. Not many people knew of this tradition on the side streets of Makati, but luckily my mom did so we would get out of our parked car and watch.
On the other hand, P.Burgos happens to be a road that’s part of a cluster of gentleman’s clubs and bars. It’s a bit disconcerting because at the bottom of this road is a school, and beside the school is St.Peter And Paul Parish — a church that’s been standing there for almost 400 years. A lot of my friends don’t even know it’s been there all along P.Burgos Street is part of the Central Business District in Makati, connecting to main avenues leading to the stock exchange center, major banks, top global firms and a lot of good restaurants to boot.
When we got there, to his surprise, there was an ancient edifice right smack in the middle of the bustling tourist district teeming with a different kind of life that he never knew existed behind the wall. In fact, he never even noticed the wall in the first place to begin with!
I wish I could have taken better pictures as my old Cybershot didn’t have the best capacity to adjust to low-lighting. These church photos were taken during the night of Holy Thursday, meaning all churches switch off the main lights and saints are draped in purple cloth. Notice how the statues of saints are blocked from view in the photo above.
That’s a around a hundred years after our islands were officially discovered by Mr. Magellan himself
*Kindly send me a message should there be any correction to the photo credits for the image above. Thank you!