After visiting the Pilar Church in Pilar, Bataan, our group headed to our third destination, the Diocesan Shrine and Cathedral Parish of Saint Joseph or better known as the Balanga Cathedral. The Cathedral is located just in front of the town plaza. Much like the first two churches in Bataan that we visited (Check : Orion Church and Pilar Church), Balanga Cathedral is not just equally stunning but also has huge historical significant. They said that the church was used as an artillery emplacement to bombard Mt. Samat, where the Filipino-American troops made their last stand.
The ministration of Balanga was formerly belonged with Abucay until the town became an independent missionary center in 1739. The church was established in April 1, 1714, making it the fifth oldest church in the province of Bataan with the Church of Abucay being the oldest (428 years old) followed by the Church of Samal (420 years old), Orion Church (349 years) and Orani Church (306 years). The church is made under the patronage of Saint Joseph. Much like the rest of the churches in the province, the Cathedral was utterly damaged by the second world war but underwent major renovation through the guidance and ordinance of the first bishop of the Diocese, Celso Guevarra DD.
The image of Saint Joseph at the center facade covered in Glass.
The church’s belfry. As far as the architectural design was concerned. They said that the early designs were quite different. The church was painted with white and there were number of chandeliers hung from the ceiling. It was when CBCP President Socrates Villegas was appointed and noticed that the church’s decoration were in bad shape. The church was once again renovated and is now adorned with new designs. The white walls were turned to brick walls and the chandeliers were replaced by ceiling lights.
The church’s altar and those intricately designed arches and dome
The image of Pantocrator can be found on the dome. This actually reminds me of the Pantocrator image found on the apse of San Sebastian Church in San Narciso, Zambales (Check : San Sebastian Church of San Narciso, Zambales)
The main altar. The image of Saint Joseph on the center with the sacred heart of Jesus and Mary on both sides.
This particular design really caught my attention because I spotted the same decoration in Saint Peter of Verona Parish in Hermosa, Bataan
Just in front of the church is another interesting site. The Spanish-inspired Plaza is indeed a a beauty to behold. It feels like you will be taken to a new place once you hit the plaza. The Galeria Victoria Mall can be found on the right side of the plaza
The statue of Rizal can be found just in front of the mall
On the other side is the Balanga City Hall which has the same structural design
The functional clock on top of the Plaza Hotel.
How to get to Balanga Cathedral
►Transit buses like Bataan Transit and Genesis Buses in Cubao has routes that will take you directly to the town proper of Balanga (you can check the schedules here http://www.bataantransit.com/schedule/). You can also have a cutting trip by taking buses bound to Dau Pampanga. From there, you can ride UV Express that takes you directly to Balanga.
Where To Stay in Bataan?
There are many cheap and affordable hotels to stay in Bataan which are near to Mt Samat Shrine or other nearby tourist Destination. The Plaza Hotel in Balanga is a perfect choice or if you are looking for a luxurious staycation, you might consider booking rooms in Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar in Bagac. You can check out list of affordable and cheap hotels in Bataan in TravelBook and see which rooms suits your budget and taste!
After the Balanga Cathedral, we all headed to our next destination, the fourth church on our list ~ the Saint Dominic Parish Church in Abucay or simply Abucay Church. Will post more about the oldest church in Bataan in my next #BataanPilgrimageTour entry.
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In case You missed, here are the rest of my Bataan Pilgrimage Tour series
► San Miguel Arcangel Parish / Orion Church – Orion, Bataan
► Our Lady of the Pillar Church / Pilar Church – Pilar, Bataan
► Diocesan Shrine and Cathedral of Saint Joseph / Balanga Cathedral – Balanga, Bataan
► Santo Domingo De Guzman Church / Abucay Church – Abucay Bataan
► Saint Peter of Verona Parish – Hermosa, Bataan
► Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish / Orani Church – Orani, Bataan
► Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes – Bacolor, Pampanga