Lahar-Sunken Church

Going to Subic or Bataan, a curious pair of eyes will surely not miss a massive structure 500 meters away from the road on the southbound area of the Manila-San Fernando-Subic Bay Freeport Pathway or Jose Abad Santos Ave. just right after the City Proper of San Fernando.

This is the San Guillermo Parish Church of Bacolor, Pampanga also known as Bacolor Church. It was built in 1576 by Augustinian Friars on a lot given by Don Guillermo Manabat, a rich local landlord believed to be the founder of Bacolor. The original structure was destroyed by an earthquake in 1880 and was rebuilt on 1886 and boast of having a main retablo, side retablos and pulpit that are heavily gilded with gold leaves and the rich decorations depict an advanced Baroque style.

Church Exterior

Considered as one of the the oldest and biggest churches in the country, San Guillermo Church was a tourist destination even before the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991. Despite the terrible eruption the Church didn't obtain any damage. However, on October 1, 1995 due to heavy rains brought by Typhoon Mameng, volcanic mud flow or lahar from the slopes of the volcano devoured almost the whole town of Bacolor and buried half of the church's 12 meter altitude.

the former choir loft window that is now used as the church's main door.

this article was published in Singsing Vol.2 No.2 ISSN 1655-6305
After the Lahar hardened and the danger subsided, most of the 50,000 residents of Bacolor that was left homeless came back and begun rebuilding their town and their life.
The townsmen painstakingly excavated, salvaged and recovered the Church's religious and historical items including the main retablo which they relocated under the Church dome in order for it to fit in vertically.

Main Retablo
Church Interior
A former stained glass window
Inside the Belfry

But perhaps the most noted reason why this Church's popularity skyrocketed this decade is because it served as the location shoot for a series of ABS-CBN called May Bukas Pa. A high rating drama/religious series revolving around a life of a boy protagonist named Santino and his relationship with Jesus Christ popularly known as Bro.
The people of Bacolor take much pride in their rich heritage and deep faith which is evident today. Almost 19 years after the catastrophe, you can see that the town's people with the help of the National Government, Private Sectors and NGO's are rebuilding, reconstructing and restoring what once a glorious town called Villa de Bacolor.
Church facade
Church well
me and my travel buddies
"Rex Regum et Dominus Dominorum"
True to what May Bukas Pa showed us, Bro never abandoned His children.


  1. So wala ka din gala no? Tsk. Maganda dito BJ. Pasyal tayo next time pls. Mwah! ktnxbye

    1. compare sayo.. considered homebud ako. lels.
      PAM muna tayo then plan natin next adventure :)