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Twilight at Nagcarlan Laguna

Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery, Laguna

As we ended our Laguna Lake Loop tour, we reached the rustic yet remarkable town of Nagcarlan. Much busier than Liliw perhaps, because it was 5PM and people are flocking the church for the afternoon mass. The air was cool and we had some sprinkles of mountain drizzle while the sun sets. The town of Nagcarlan is about 30 minutes away from San Pablo City in Laguna, the famed “City of Seven Lakes.” We visit two of its famed sites, the church and its underground cemetery.

Iglesia de San Bartolome

Now, this church certainly looks familiar. If you are a Vilmanian and perhaps a kapamilya fan, most likely you saw this church in Pablo S. Gomez’s “Kampanerang Kuba,” our country’s very own “Hunchback of Notre Dame.” The only difference was, its either Ate Vi or Anne Curtis who played a role…definitely female!

San Bartolome Church, Nagcarlan, Laguna

The church itself was established by the Franciscan friar Tomas de Miranda made of light materials in the 16th century. In 1752, a church of brick and stone was built yet it was partially damaged by fire in almost thirty years later. It was reconstructed and added its distinctive choirloft by Father Vicente Velloc. It was declared a historical site by the Philippine government (well, before it was a Commonwealth under Uncle Sam) in 1938.

Historical Marker of Nagcarlan Church

Baroque and grey is its main feature with hints of red bricks, unlike its Liliw counterpart which is covered by all bricks. The church convent is attached on its northern flanks and the belfry itself…which is a landmark in my opinion…with its ummm…peculiar red roof.

Nagcarlan Church Convent

While my companions were spread out taking photos of the church, I myself was satisfied with the facade and the ongoing mass. Oh by the way, did I mentioned Velloc earlier?

The Underground Cemetery of Nagcarlan

I know Todos Los Santos was several days ago but hey, this cemetery is one true blue heritage landmark of the Tagalogs…and something unique.

Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery Camposanto

The Underground Cemetery of Nagcarlan was built under the supervision of none other than the Franciscan missionary Vicente Velloc in 1851. The same priest who expanded San Bartolome de Nagcarlan Church and convent. And during the Philippine Revolution, the leaders of the Laguna revolt secretly held meetings here…I mean below, not six feet under though.

Twilight is fast approaching and we were just in time to see Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery before going home. Unfortunately it wasn’t open. Hanggang gate lang kami but again, the sky gave us a beautiful painting with the old camposanto made of brick, stone and lime from the distance. The red brick aisle towards the camposanto (chapel) is surrounded by verdant grass not meant to be stepped upon. And the walls where the dead rests exudes creepiness…but again, mas marami daw multo sa simbahan kaysa sa sementeryo.

Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery Gate

The cemetery itself sits beside the uphill climb of the national road going to San Pablo City, you wouldn’t miss it. Just take a jeepney ride from San Pablo City and you’ll surely pass by. For people bringing their cars, good luck because there are no parking spaces available except the road sides itself. And basically the underground cemetery is taken care of by the National Historical Institute and is open everyday…8am to 5pm, the usual government office work plus weekends.

Condo for the dead?, Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery | Photo by Christian Bederico

And a tip…here’s another peculiar rule: “Professional photography for commercial purposes is not allowed (people sometimes discriminate pro-photographers and dSLR camera users) BUT personal photos can be taken (and yes, the handy dandy point and shoot cameras are most welcome).” - Sounds familiar Angono?

Twilight in Nagcarlan | Photo by Christian Bederico

Anyway, our visita iglesia for that summer was over. And as we bid our paalam to Nagcarlan, the Santacruzan frenzy was over the air as we passed by the town of Rizal and its barangays full of marching ladies and gentlemen with lights on their hands…truly, the feast and the tradition still lingers in the Tagalog Republic of Laguna and Rizal…just a few miles away from cosmopolitan Manila. Again, I’ll come back…with a better camera in handy.

Thats us last summer. Me and my barkada in Nagcarlan Laguna!

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