One of my favorite churches in the Metro is the Bel-air church. If I am not mistaken, it was designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin. What I like most about this church is that it is very airy and yet functional. The chandelier at the altar, which is a ring of halogen lamps, also doubles up as a halo for the giant crucifix. Unfortunately, the crucifix was haphazardly covered with a purple cloth - it looked like whoever was in charge run out of purple fabric.
But I liked the vigil altar that they set up outside. It was a simple altar, with the blessed sacrament simply adorned by two wooden angels. They also placed a red carpet leading to the altar, so the overall effect was understated elegance.
Someone pointed out that the Shrine of the Nuestra Senora de Guia was along the way, so we decided to include the church in our itinerary. We were not disappointed. Finally, an altar that actually left me breathless. It was a sight to behold: giant candelabras with crystals that sparkled and flowers that were mostly white chrysanthemums. The overall effect was that one could actually feel inspired and awed while praying.
There was also soft piano music playing in the background.
And then I remembered that right in front of the Church was a Hap Chan branch. I like the food of Hap Chan. There was a time, many years ago, when its first outlet at the Dakota Mansion along Malvar Street at Adriatico was one of Manila's best kept secrets. It was a hole in the wall then and droves would come to the place that could only sit around 50. The walls of the restaurant were filled with calendars of politicians with handwritten messages from the politicians themselves. But people did not mind waiting. People brushed elbows with the high and mighty and no one minded the heat and the strong flavors that clung to one's clothes. Hap Chan has since then become a chain.
So we decided to drop our plans to go to Binondo and instead hopped over to Hap Chan where we had an enjoyable and sumptuous meal. We even had Lloyd Samartino and his mom, Carmen Soriano at the next table (hehehe). I noticed that we ordered almost the same food - steamed fish, brocolli with garlic, polonchay soup, etc.
Because of the heavy meal, two of little kids (a niece and a nephew) got very sleepy and wanted to go home already. So we changed our itinerary. We dropped off the kids and decided to just visit the nearby churches. We originally intended to visit the Manila Cathedral and nearby San Agustin Church, Binondo Church, Santa Cruz Church, Adamson Church, Paco, and then end up at the church a block away from our house, the San Martin de Porres Church on Leon Guinto.
From there, we went to the Pope Pius Center, the Paco Park (which was surprisingly open, although the church was closed), the Paco Church, and finally, St. Anthony's Church at Singalong. The last picture I took was that of the vigil altar of St. Anthony's church which was located inside the audio visual hall of the St. Anthony's Catholic School.
And that ended our visita iglesia 2007. Tomorrow, I will write about the food stalls that sprouted in the vicinity of the churches and the enterprising parking attendants in practically all the churches.