Rivaling Quiapo Church in the number of devotees is the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, said to be the most attended church in Asia. The church draws up to 100,000 worshippers, including politicians and celebrities, even on a regular day, and up to hundreds of thousands more during Ash Wednesday, summoning what is locally coined the “Baclaran Phenomenon.”
If the local Christian faithful devote Fridays for the Black Nazarene novena in Quiapo, they save Wednesdays for Baclaran Day, a day of novena for the Our Lady of Perpetual Help, one of the most venerated Marian icons in the Philippines. Tradition has it that the devotion to the statue started in 1906 through the Redemptorist brothers and priests preaching in the area.
After saying their prayers, locals can be seen doing their other passion: shopping. That is because apart from the church, Baclaran is flanked with novelty shops at every turn. Vendors sell cheap clothes, simple gadgets, and almost anything under the sun.
Although it is one of the largest churches in the country, the modern Romanesque-style Baclaran Church would mean nothing to tourists, except for those who share in the belief that the church’s main icon, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, dispenses miracles and graces to those who religiously take part in the weekly novena. The church, however, provides a good spot for people-watching and for taking photographs of subjects that may be high in oddity or human interest.
Fees and opening hours
It is free to go inside the church and to take photos of it and its statues, provided that there is no mass being held. The church is open 24/7, but the best time to go here is on Ash Wednesday or any time between 5:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. of any Wednesday, during the novena mass for Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Be wary, though, that these days are when the crowd is at its thickest.
How to get there
The Baclaran Church (officially called the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Redemptorist) is in Baclaran, Parañaque City 1700. It is right below the southernmost station of LRT-Line 1 (Baclaran station). You can also get there via taxi from anywhere in Manila. Tel. Nos.: +63 (02) 832.1150 | 832.1151 | 833.5016, fax: +63 (02) 551.175, website: http://www.baclaranovena.org/.
Baclaran is a hotspot for petty crimes. Be careful of snatchers and robbers.