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Sariaya Church
Town/City:  Sariaya
Province:  Quezon
13° 57.804N   121° 31.435E
Listed in Gallery:   Old Church
Pilgrimage Site

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Click on any of the images to see the enlarged copy and narratives of the photo.

The town of Sariaya located approximately 90 aerial kilometers (straight distance) southeast of Manila, is traversed by the southbound National Highway about 125 kilometers road distance from Manila. This is the third town in Quezon Province after Tiaong and Candelaria and located just before Tayabas straight ahead and Lucena City at the right turn of the Calumpang junction.

One of the historical landmarks of the town is the St. Francis of Assisi Church, which was built in 1748 (Find out more about this in the narratives of the historical marker photo).

The highway slices thru the town proper and the church is not easy to miss on the left side. There are times of the day though that traffic is rerouted in front of the church. When you are facing Lucena-bound, you may be directed to take a side road to the right. In that case, find your way back to the highway after a few corners and you may enter the churchyard's gate when you are facing Manila-bound.

The church houses the Sto. Cristo de Burgos image which is more popular than the acknowledged patron saint St. Francis of Assisi, as the former was believed to be miraculous and visited by pilgrims from far away places. If you are the kind who do not believe in miracles, then try the native delicacies peddled near the gate at unbelievably low prices.

The church's historical marker states that the earthquakes and floods of 1743 destroyed the church and caused the transfer to the present site. However, an article by Bambi L.Harper (Sense & Sensibility, Phil Daily Inquirer 08/13/02) quoting a letter from Eric Dedace (of Sariaya Quadri-Centennial Fdtn) narrates that "...folk legend handed over for more than 259 years now had it that after the 1743 earthquake, the pillaging Moros [native Muslims] came and once again burned the church and the town and the people fled to Mount Banahaw's slopes. Returning... the survivors found the Cristo de Burgos still intact amid the charred ruins, which they regarded as a miracle... it was wrapped in white cloth and carried by able-bodied men northwards to higher ground. After resting for a while, the men folk tried to lift the icon to resume their journey but it became too heavy to carry so the people took it as a sign that the new church should be built at that very spot and so Sariaya came to being amidst another 'miracle' which they say continues to this day.".

The prior part of the same letter mentions about the lake in Mt. Banahaw that collapsed due to the earthquake, causing the flood and the destruction of the church and the town.

These accounts could be consolidated if we would say that after the earthquake with accompanying flood, pirates attacked and burned the church (which survived the earthquake and flood, otherwise there is nothing to burn). This prompted the townsfolk to build a new church at the present site, in effect transferring the town. Hence, the former location is now called Lumangbayan (Oldtown).

Waypoint narrative by: GBLontok 2003     follow GBLontok on Facebook

Additional narratives or blogs:
I am Eric J. Dedace from the Sariaya Tourism Council and I would like to update you about our church. There has been some renovations done largely through the efforts of our parish priest Msgr. melecio Verastigue with the help of the parishioners and some donors. The convent has been beautified and is now called the Residential Museum, while the area behind it, an enclosure that has been vacated by a Catholic High school is now being developed as a Devotional Park. Aside from the putting up of the likenesses of saints, a Last Supper set up, a Resurrecion, conference rooms, two mortuaries, a fountain, a Lady of lourdes Grotto and a frieze on the fouteen Stations of the Cross, a reception area for weddings and gatherings is being constructed, so the area will become very functional.

Likewise, the area below the convent was converted into a Franciscan Museum with the help of the Touirism Council in honor of the town's patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi. The permanent exhibits include church relics like a big broken bell, an incense burner, old candelabras, and the like together with photos in tarpaulin form depicting the old and new look of the church, that used to be brick roofed prior to 1947.There are also exhibits on St. Francis three devotions namely the Belen, the Eucharist and the crucified Christ, with a life size nativity scene plus tarpaulin photos of the Belen Festival held from December 15-23 since 2005, aside from an altar scene with a mannequin dressed up as a priest. The Cross portion is devoted to Sariaya's 18th century icon, the Santo Cristo de Burgos, with tarpaulin photos of its medieval Burgos original in Spain, Sariaya lenten rituals and scenes from the Holy Wednesday street play Santo Kristo: Isang Senakulo now on its second year, with townspeople dressed up in 1st century AD Rome and jerusalem costumes. Also on display is an old Santo Cristo once used for Good friday rituals now bald - headed presumably from the plucking of its hair by devotees, together with a wooden Santo Cristo de burgos carved from the fallen half of the once massive Acacia tree at the church patio that fell on October 2001, plus old santo Cristo tapis, some of which were arranged to form the Franciscan tau sign. An area is also devoted to the Sariaya's thirs patron, San Isidro de Labrador, whose feast day of may 15th is a centuries old tradition, now called the Agawan Festival that showcases the town's legendary hospitality and religious heritage. The Franciscan corner includes wooden likenesses of St. Francis, and his relic, part of his skeleton glass encased in a small metal cross said to be traditionally kissed by devotees every Monday, ands tarpaulin photos of Assisi, Italy.The church patio is likewise renovated, with the area beneath the treated Acacia Tree now serving as a parking area for vehicles.

Waypoints photographers can return and update their artistry throughout the Sariaya Church complex, including the belfry where one can take in bluish Mount Banahaw scenery with the red roofed church dome as appropriate backdrop. My e mail address is sinangag@gmail.com should interested photographers need assistance and backgrounders for a better appreciation of this waypoint venue. Much thanks for featuring the Sariaya Church.

By: Eric_J_Dedace 2007



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