The rage of nature excuses no one. The blast of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 proved this true. Lives were lost and livelihoods were menaced. Homes were buried so as different establishments and sadly, places of worship.

With churches always designed to be imposing as if demanding attention from onlookers and worshippers through their architectural arrangement and size, height particularly, it brings so much interest when something, out of natural forces, is changed in a way completely opposite to this.  Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Cabetican, Bacolor, Pampanga or more commonly known as the Sunken Shrine, is one of them. It might not be as popular as other old churches in the province, but the shrine is truly a hidden gem for its unique story waiting to be unveiled. Literally speaking, it might just be the least noticeable in height, but figuratively as seen from its history, the church definitely stands out from the rest.

NorthPine Land got the opportunity to see this very interesting church in person, and what a treat it is. With the explosion of Mt. Pinatubo reaching and affecting Bacolor immensely in 1991 up to 1995, the town has been forever changed. The shrine, which once stood as one of the town’s important edifices, is now partly covered in lahar. Locals claim that the lower part of the church buried should still be about six meters under.

When visiting the Sunken Shrine, be sure to bring slippers or extra clothes if you also want to roam about. The lower floor of the building is usually submerged in water and it is not advisable to go there on a rainy day since the water level rises. Although a little creepy for some, there are also bats flying around that add to the mysteriousness of the place.

Notwithstanding the challenges, these situations add to the character of the place and gave us a very fulfilling experience. Inside the relatively spacious church, you will see a Christ figure which has stood the test of time. This symbol of faith, somehow remained indestructible, much like the entire church and the religious people of Cabetican.

Presently, a “replica” church lies beside the former shrine. It is now where people attend masses and other church activities. The new structure is smaller than the original one but it houses the 130-year old statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, its patron saint. Thanks to the efforts of the government and the local town of Bacolor, some parts of what remains from the church has been restored. Albeit not perfectly and still unused for its original purpose, the continued existence of the Sunken Shrine stands as an echoing reminder of the strength and resilience of the Pampangueños, who braved the devastating effects of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption and rose with so much hope.

If you think you already know many things about Pampanga, think again. There is so much more to see and experience in this very promising land in the North. Lean more amazing discoveries about Pampanga with NorthPine Land!