Betis Church St. James the Apostle Parish Church commonly known as Betis Church. (Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons) The St. James the Apostle Parish Church (Spanish: Iglesia Parroquial de Santiago Apóstol) commonly known as Betis Church is a Baroque church located in the Betis, Guagua in Pampanga, Philippines under the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Fernando. The church was established in 1607 and dedicated to Saint James, the Apostle.
Recently, I came upon the best place where the Lord surely dwells. If every heart is the home of the Lord, then, the Monasterio de Tarlac, a 40-minute drive away through hills and plains from the capital town of Tarlac, is the Lord’s mansion. Here, He dwells in His utmost glory. Here, a part of the cross on which He died is kept and it is here that you and I, in search of a place to be in one with Him, should come, after having visited all 14 churches, all in a day’s journey, of course, on a week as sacred as this.
It takes about forty minutes from Plaza Luisita in downtown Tarlac City to reach the Relic of the True Cross monastery (also known as the Monasterio de Tarlac) which sits on the mountain top called The Resurrection by the Servants of the Risen Christ monks. Up a concreted road where haystacks are piled on both sides, amid the rolling hills of bucolic San Jose, the hilltop residence of the Relic is the ideal escape to which we can journey to the heart of spiritual universe.
After having survived a most trying summer semester as a Biology major at the University of the Philippines, Manila, I jumped the chance when my mom asked if I wanted to join the pilgrimage she was helping organize to the Relic of the Holy Cross in Tarlac, which also included visits to several churches in the province. And with that, I declared a temporary retreat.
Tarlac is fervently Catholic, its old churches unforgotten. The province is steeped with a rich history and new attractions for the mind, body and soul. The quiet barangay (village) of Lubigan as the most revered pilgrimage site in the country. It’s high time to rediscover Tarlac’s charms not through the eyes of an inquisitive tourist, but that of a pilgrim.