Peaceful places for rest and reflection this Holy Week (and beyond)

Part 1 of 2

Holy Week is traditionally a time for reflection and prayer. But for many Filipinos, the non-working holiday is also a good time to take a break from work and spend quality time with friends and family. As such, Filipino families often combine the practice of visiting churches, prayer parks, and pilgrimage destinations with traditional leisure activities, such as enjoying hotel staycations. 

Here are some top pilgrimage sites, as well as relaxing hotels you can consider staying in, for your Holy Week break and quick vacations from city life.


A peaceful and quiet destination all year around, the island of Marinduque comes alive during Holy Week, with the celebration of the Moriones Festival. The “Moriones” are men and women in costumes and masks replicating the garb of biblical Imperial Roman soldiers as interpreted by locals. Aside from taking part in religious festivities, you can also visit historic churches such as the Boac Cathedral, a Filipino-Hispanic Baroque, and the St. Joseph Parish Church in Gasan, which pays tribute to the craft of St. Joseph as a carpenter with its uniquely crafted interiors and fan-like ceilings.

St. Joseph Parish Church in Gasan, Marinduque. Photos by Kara Santos

Enjoy a relaxing stay in Marinduque at Balar Hotel and Spa, a well-appointed hotel located in the middle of lush greens fronting the beach of Balaring in Boac. The hotel’s cozy atmosphere paired with local hospitality and warm service, promises a relaxing retreat for tourists.

Balar Hotel Resort and Spa Marinduque. Photo by Kara Santos


The province of Quezon is known for its historic churches. There’s the key-shaped St. Michael Archangel Basilica in Tayabas City and the picturesque San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish Church with its facade covered in greenery. But it’s the Kamay ni Hesus Shrine in Lucban, one of the tallest statues of Christ in the country, that’s a top draw for pilgrims during Holy Week. Devotees climb up almost 300 steps of stairs on a hill located on the slopes of Mt. Banahaw to say prayers at the 50-foot-high statue of Jesus Christ with outstretched hands.

Kamay ni Hesus Lucban Quezon. Photo by Kara Santos

If you’re planning a road trip to Quezon, you can stay at Batis Aramin Resort and Hotel right across the pilgrimage site. This resort offers various room types for couples, families, and stand-alone villas ideal for larger groups. They also have several swimming pools, lush gardens, nature trails, and an adventure park, with flower fields on the premises so the whole family can enjoy serene surroundings to recharge from city life.

Batis Aramin Resort and Hotel, Lucban Quezon. Photo by Kara Santos


Batangas, home to historic churches and prayer parks, is another popular pilgrimage destination to visit during the Lenten Season. Tourists can take part in religious activities, processions, and reenactments of the Passion of Christ in small town festivities.

Padre Pio Church Batangas. Photo by Kara Santos

One notable church here is the Lipa Cathedral, which features a grand baroque-designed pipe organ, Roman-inspired paintings on walls and ceilings, and a bell tower. The National Shrine of Saint Padre de Pio in Sto. Tomas is another unique church that features a Filipino tropical design with its roof shaped like a giant salakot. You can also stop by the Marian Orchard Chapel, a serene prayer park set among blooming gardens and European-inspired architecture in the town of Balete.

Lima Park Hotel Batangas. Photo by Kara Santos

Lima Park Hotel on the boundary of Lipa and Malvar is a good place to base while going exploring sites in the nearby towns like Balete and Talisay. The first and only 4-star hotel in Batangas sits on a sprawling prime property in the middle of the Lima Technology Center, a special economic zone. 


Tarlac is another popular Holy Week Destination, with pilgrimage sites such as Monasterio de Tarlac in San Jose town with the 30-foot giant statue of the Risen Christ symbolically blessing the province and its pilgrims. In the town of Bamban, you can find a “Holy Land” with life-size depictions of the Holy Rosary’s mysteries. There’s also Goshen Resort in Bamban, with grounds inspired by ancient Roman culture, so you can imagine yourself in Biblical times.

Goshen Resort, Tarlac. Photo by Kara Santos

The religious sites in Bamban are located relatively near Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, making this a good place to stay for leisure and sightseeing afterward. There are many quality hotels in Clark you can choose from, including Xenia Hotel Clark, which offers a mix of comfort and luxury for business and leisure travelers. The hotel offers cozy and comfortable accommodations with free WiFi access throughout the property. It also features an outdoor pool, a large Korean-style restaurant that serves a complimentary buffet breakfast, and free parking on-site.

Xenia Hotel, Clark. Photo by Kara Santos

La Union

If you’re in the mood for a longer road trip with easy access to the beach, La Union has a few sacred sites and churches for Holy Week pilgrims. There are three Marian Shrines in La Union, namely the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Charity in Agoo (which has an underground crypt), Our Lady of Namacpacan in Luna, and Nuestra Senora Virgen del Mar Cautiva in Santo Tomas. Pindangan Ruins, an old catholic church in San Fernando City, also offers an interesting pilgrimage site for nature lovers.

Namacpacan Church in Luna, La Union. Photo by Kara Santos

After visiting churches, you can enjoy a staycation in one of the many hotels in the surf town of San Juan. One option is Patio by Balai Norte, a modern tropical boutique hotel that offers guests some peace away from the usual beach crowds. You can enjoy quality time with the family in the hotel’s cozy rooms, and relax with refreshing views at their roof deck bar and lounge. 

Patio by Balai Norte La Union. Photo by Kara Santos

These properties offer peaceful retreats beyond the Lenten Season. If you want to avoid traveling during the Holy Week break, you can still plan for summer getaways, long weekends, and quick breaks anytime you need to rest and recharge from city life.

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