It was that another Sunday where I haven’t decided yet where to go. Feeling lucky that I’ll find one near from home, I searched through the provincial tourism site of Bulacan. Under religious sites category, I found Shrine of St. Andrew Kim interesting. Because the place and even the patron saint is personally unheard of, I continued researching. Few blogs mentioned it but all agreed to one – South Korea vibes. After some minutes and twenty-five pesos fare, I reached my latest weekender destination.
From the highway, I already saw the towering landmark that in turn guided me to the place. As I went in to the complex, this structure welcomed me. It was a surprise because the facade was no-way Korean and was never mentioned in previous blogs. Answers were later revealed.
St. Andrew Kim Taegon is believed to be the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is the patron saint of Korea. He tied his connections with Filipinos when he studied in Lolomboy, Bocaue where the shrine is currently located in his honor. Pictured here at the center is St. Andrew Kim among with a hundred Korean martyrs.
I spent the first hour wandering around the complex alone. There is a handful of structures that are still in construction. In fact, the place is still under development. After I’ve gotten some pictures of the finished structures and about to leave, Mr. Lee, which later I found out who manages the whole place, called my attention as well as the coordinators, Lizelle and Mr. Choi. They will tour me around the place again. #Blessed.
This iconic seven-floor pagoda tower, which served as my guide earlier within the village, symbolizes the Seven Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. I was allowed to get inside and to wander up to the top to see this view:
The convent for the sisters will be transferred to the farther building, the one seen in the previous image with Italian inspired facade. Meanwhile, the old convent will be used as a school for Korean-Filipino students soon.
This is one of the unique center ceiling or vault of a church that I’ve seen because of its narrow boxed dome with murals painted. One can see a lot of murals inside the complex and these murals are done by two Bulacan-based young painters.
The table altar is made out of an old tree struck by lightning. So instead of disposing the decaying tree, its parts were revived as table and the Jesus image in the crucifix.
At the background of the altar are mural paintings.
Another prominent mural inside the chapel is this image of Jesus in a garden. Mr. Lee wanted this to be positioned at the entrance so the churchgoers will have an instant connection with Jesus that one would most likely confess his or her sins.
The exterior of the second church built inside the St. Andrew Kim Shrine complex.
The first church in the complex was built 5 years ago and was then the only structure in the said land area. It is expected that devotees will flock the church during the upcoming Holy Week for their Visita Iglesia.
After seeing this pyramid meditation area, I realized that the entire place in this village of Lolomboy is actually a prayer complex. Like the Egyptian pyramids, it is believed to contain supernatural or paranormal properties due to its shape.
This is the pyramid roof of the meditation area with an evident touch of Korea.
Another adoration chapel within the complex displays a carrier of one of the relic bone of the patron saint.
Another artists’ interpretation of the Last Supper located inside the new convent shows the monumental event which took place outdoors. The trees seen here are patterned after the endemic trees of Korea.
Still under construction is this 12-sided pavillion with underground worship place. It will house the Chinese Zodiac Signs below but the structure above will have inspiration from Thailand. So as of now, take note that we have South Korea, Italy, Egypt, China and Thailand in this prayer complex. Mr. Lee’s idea and concepts of the worship areas are taken from his travels.
Each pillar will have the symbol of the astrological zodiac sign of the Chinese.
Almost everywhere one goes will have a chapel or at least an altar for prayer offerings.
Another perspective capturing the different worship structures built inside. Can you spot the Alpha and Omega?
I was fortunate enough to be accompanied around in every building, structures and features of the shrine complex. After my tour, Mr. Lee invited me for a Chinese tea drink together with Lizelle and Mr. Choi. He then disclosed the twist – he is a actually a Buddhist who even followed the Buddhism religion along with other monks in South Korea. He was later taken good care by the Catholic sisters. He learned that some beliefs and traditions in Christianity and Buddhism are common. One example of such is the soul of the dead will separate from its body only after some days. Because of his revelation, I got and understood his notion of fusing different religion themes in the worship areas within the complex. After all, we believe that there’s a supreme being or force above us humans.
Interesting to note that he collects and auctions Chinese jars and porcelain wares. He has published a book about his collection in 2012. He also has tons of decades old Chinese tea leaves. We took in a 60-year-old tea leaves and I enjoyed every drop of it.
With all his visions in, the complex is expected to be completed 3 years from now. He is happy to see me on my next visits. Mr. Choi and Lizelle suggested to pay visit during the stunning sunset and at night as well because they install good lights that illuminate the structures.
Shrine of St. Andrew Kim Taegon is open to public. I’ve seen students coming in and out as well. To go here, you can take the Bocaue exit in NLEX or follow McArthur highway to reach Barangay Lolomboy, Bocaue, Bulacan.