Rizal Province: Religious Sites in Binangonan
Binangonan is one of the most accessible towns in Rizal Province with passenger jeepneys coming from both major transportation hubs, Cubao in Quezon City and Crossing in Mandaluyong, passing by major thoroughfares. And since Filipinos are inclined to pilgrimage, access to religious sites in the lakeside town is made easier (though, pilgrimage means ‘long journey’). Aside from the town church, another pilgrimage site is frequented not only by devotees and pilgrims but even flocked by tourist especially during the Holy Week. Let’s find out when Biyaherong Barat goes to Binangonan.
Binangonan came from the root word “bangon”, which translates to “rise” and Binangonan means “to rise from somewhere”. Locals of the present day Binangonan traces back their roots to the first inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago, the Negritos or Aetas. A particular tribe, the Batasin, who settled along the shores of Laguna Lake, were among the first to be Christianized within the area. Population grew and Catholicism spread, wherein the small village rose to a new settlement now called Binganonan.
Sta. Ursula Parish Church of Binangonan.
Young students of Binangonan Catholic College practicing their dance routine in front of Sta. Ursula church.
Built towards the end of the 18th Century was the Sta. Ursula Parish Church, a key component that converted natives to Christians, beginning from a small community to a whole township of Binangonan. At the heart of town, this 200-year old structure stands as a major landmark in town which reminds the locale of Binangonan’s humble origins and religious history.
Vendor selling cold treats outside the church.
A 15-minute walk or a short 5-minute tricycle ride from Sta. Ursula Church takes you at the foot of Mt. Calvary, not Golgotha, but the Kalbaryo of Baranggay Libid in Binangonan. Enduring more than a hundred steps of cemented stairs takes pilgrims to a statue of the Blessed Virigin, secured in a thick glass showcase, and behind it is a huge cross, standing 15 feet from base, towering over the town of Binangonan.
Stairs to Kalbaryo, Binangonan
The image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the 15-foot cross.
An old story in Binangonan claims that a cross-shaped rock miraculously sprouted from the ground up but unfortunately destroyed by lightnings and earthquakes. To commemorate the supernatural occurrence, folks built a wooden cross which was then replaced with the steel which stands until today. In the same hill, an old chapel was once built but only its ruins remain at the present. Pilgrims, non-pilgrims, Catholic or not, tourist, even locals, enjoy going up the hill to witness the stunning panoramic view of the vast Laguna Lake and the entire town of Binangonan which certainly makes Kalbaryo a Binangonan tourist destination.
The old chapel in Kalbaryo lay in ruins.
In my own opinion, one doesn’t need to wait for the Holy Week to present our devotion to our religion. In fact, I hate visiting pilgrimage sites during the religious holiday because of two reasons: traffic and herds of people. Chances of getting tangled in traffic and being caught up with people increase because everyone goes to the same pilgrimage spots. Yes, it is part of the Catholic tradition, but, sometimes we forget the true purpose of a pilgrimage – to reflect.
Here are some fast facts that may help you on your trip:
1. Take Ortigas Avenue Extension and turn right in Tikling. Follow Manila East Road passing by SM Taytay, Angono, then Binangonan.
2. Passenger jeepneys all bound for Binangonan have different routes, “Binangonan Double Highway” takes Ortigas Avenue Extension and Manila East Road, “Binangonan Floodway” takes Pasig Floodway route. Is there a Binangonan Cainta jeepney?
3. Hikers to Kalbaryo might want to bring a cap or a hat because it’s kind of hot especially during mid-day. There are no shades at the cross, but there are resting huts along the way.
4. Like Morong, Sta. Ursula Parish only has opening hours. I’ve visited the place twice but I was unfortunate to find it closed on both visits.
5. More destinations in Rizal Province.
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8. Happy travels.