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Seven stops for Visita Iglesia in Intramuros open for the first time since WWII

The Department of Tourism on Thursday along with the Intramuros Administration launched the first major project of the newly created Faith Sector that focuses on the wealth of religious cultural history in the famed Walled City.

Seven chapels will be open in Intramuros on Maundy Thursday (March 29), allowing visitors to perform a Visita Iglesia in some of the country's grandest religious halls like the Manila Cathedral and the San Agustin Church.

Completing the list are San Ignacio Church, Guadalupe Shrine in Fort Santiago, Knights of Columbus Fr. Willman Chapel, Lyceum of the Philippines University Chapel, and the Mapua University Chapel.

This is the first time since World War II that a Visita Iglesia in Intramuros is possible, making the event doubly historic as it pays homage to the original seven churches in Intramuros during the Spanish era.

Intramuros will also be housing Via Crucis stations at General Luna Street (from Beatrio to Muralla) from Maundy Thursday to Black Saturday (March 29 to 31).

The area will be closed off to traffic, but representatives from the Intramuros Administration assured the press during the launch that they are preparing for the influx of people and vehicles.

Crowd estimates provided by San Agustin Church that as many as 500,000 devotees visit in two days alone.

In addition to the simulation of Visita Iglesia and the Via Crucis, a Cenaculo-inspired staging of "Martir Sa Golgota" endorsed by the Cultural Center of the Philippines will be held at Tanghalang Santa Ana, also along General Luna Street, on Maundy Thursday.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo that this marks the beginning of the push for "faith-based" tourism that feature "Pilgrimage Tours" — something she was frequently asked in the countries she has traveled to like Russia and Thailand.

"They were all willing to come and bring groups for a Pilgrimage Tour," Teo said.

Faith Sector Director Rebecca Villanueva-Labit and Faith and Farm Tourism Undersecretary Marco Bautista in an interview with GMA News Online said that the partnership with Intramuros for the 2018 Lenten Activities — and the scheduled activities across the country for Holy Week — is just the start.

The promotion of Buddhist temples, Moro culture, and more are in the works. — GMA, News