I kept waiting for a guard to approach me, ask me what I was doing, tell me that photography inside the church is not allowed and escort me outside.
I was attending a photowalk at Cavite and decided to pass by the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran before proceeding to the rendezvous point at the Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine. I used to pass this church a lot when I come home from the south end of the Metro and I’m always intrigued by its seemingly unconventional church facade.
The Modern Romanesque design is actually the third reincarnation of the church since 1906. The façade reminds me so much of a pipe organ, with columns rising and falling in different planes. The placement of windows actually heightened the similarities even more.
The cream-colored structure has colonnades on both of its sides composed of arched openings echoed in the interior doorways that access the church.
The official name of the church is National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, most however refer to it as the Redemptorist Church, being the headquarters of the Redemptorist priests in the country. But for the common people, the church is referred to as simply the Baclaran Church.
The cathedral is named after the icon venerated above the church altar, a rather small image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The icon came from Germany, passed through Ireland before landing in the Philippines in 1906. It holds a papal seal at the back which I assume came from Pope John Paul II’s visit here in 1981.
Marian devotees flock the 2,000-seater church every Wednesday for the Perpetual Novena. And like its counterpart in Quiapo, ready yourselves for heavy traffic during this day of the week.
Its interior is very airy. Being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I guess there really is no need to close those massive doors. Yellow concrete columns rise like stalks from the interestingly intersecting tile floors and bloom upwards into the unpainted sculpture-like ceiling.
It’s refreshing for a church to have so little ornaments. Baclaran Church makes up for the lack of décor in terms of grand massiveness. From the outside the church doesn’t really appear that big, but once you step inside its hall, prepare for your jaw to drop. It is simply colossal.
So there I was, an hour of shooting, looking for angles and still no guards. I didn’t know if I was just lucky, I had been turned away from churches in Manila quite a number of times for taking photos.
I’m almost done with my documentary but there was one more thing I would like to photograph, the rose window located at the church’s choir loft; and the entrance was locked. I tried my luck asking for permission to shoot inside from their office, expecting to be turned down; I was shocked when they easily said yes and even asked a guard to accompany to the loft. Wow.
I applaud the admin of Baclaran’s Redemptorist Church for its generosity in allowing photographers to document the beauty of their house of worship. Unlike the guards which chased me out from other churches, theirs actually helped me out, even suggesting other parts of the church I may find interesting to photograph.
So I went up, the sun shining through the rose window. I framed the circular opening, took a couple of photos, thanked the guard, said a little prayer and walked out of the church.
National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help
Address: Baclaran, Paranaque City, Metro Manila
Telephone: (02) 832-1150 | 832-1151 | 833-5016
Open Hours: Open 24 hours everyday
Mass Schedule: Click Here
GPS Coordinates: 14.531713,120.994683
Click to view location on Google Maps