The Church of Nagcarlan is also known as St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church. It’s one of the beautiful churches along the Laguna Loop, a series of churches along the Laguna Lake frequented in pilgrimage and visita iglesia by the faithful.
We arrived in the Nagcarlan Church halfway in the morning, after passing through the other major historical landmark in Nagcarlan — the other is the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery, a few blocks up the national highway.
Nagcarlan Church is not beside the road, but it’s readily accessible. It’s not in the middle of downtown, unlike the Paete Church, and it’s just two turns from the national highway. On the second turn we were greeted by the statue of St. Bartholomew, just before the entrance to the parking area. The sufficient parking area and the purposeful landscaping enhanced the beauty of the church.
A number of tourist buses and a whole lot of tourist vans were already in the parking lot when we reached the church. A lot of vehicles but no traffic jam. More vehicles were pouring in as we were leaving. It’s not hard to see that this is a favorite destination.
A mass was ongoing and it became apparent that it was dedicated to the pilgrims attending the mass, consisting practically all of the attendees at that time.
We made a surprising discovery while leaving the Nagcarlan Church — we encountered the best-tasting cheese-flavored dirty ice cream in our entire lives. “Dirty ice cream” refers to home-produced ice cream, without using sophisticated equipment as compared to big ice cream companies. The vendor is a man in his late 50s. The thought of asking for his name, and possibly contact details, dawned on us only when we were nearing the next destination on the way to Pagsanjan Falls, the town of Liliw.
The marker placed in 1938 by the Historical Research and Markers Committee designates this as the Church of Nagcarlang. The marker reads: The first church, which was of light materials, was built by Rev. Tomas De Miranda. O.F.M., who was assigned to this town in 1583 as resident priest. The second church, of brick and stone, was built in 1752, but was partly destroyed by fire in 1781. A choirloft was added to the reconstructed church in 1845 by Rev. Vicente Velloc, who built the Nagcarlang Cemetery and its underground crypt. Rev. Tomas De Miranda was pioneer in the successful cultivation of wheat in the uplands of Nagcarlang.
The Nagcarlan Church is accessible and only a few kilometers from San Pablo City. It’s a piece of historical landmark and an architectural marvel, and together with the nearby Underground Cemetery, enough reasons for those who are not religiously inclined to visit this impressive structure.