I’ve always loved visiting churches, temples, shrines and other places where people worship. When you’re traveling, it can give you a glimpse into the place’s history or culture. You see what people hold dear, what they believe in, what customs and traditions they have upheld through the centuries.
In the Philippines, Catholicism is the predominant religion. Three centuries of being a Spanish colony can do that to a country. Based on historical accounts, the province of Cebu is where one of the rulers of the country first converted to Christianity together with his subjects. It’s also where the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño is located, believed to have been the oldest church in the country (until the original structure was destroyed in a fire in the 16th century) and its site is where the oldest Catholic image of the Santo Niño (Holy Child Jesus) was found from the 1521 Magellan expedition. That’s a lot of Catholic history. So when we went to Cebu, P and I visited the Basilica.
The atmosphere outside the church is just like any other large Catholic church in the country, bustling with activity outside and quiet and somber inside the church. A devotee praying on her knees was moving towards the altar. People were lighting candles. There was a room filled with statues of different saints and a few stood in front of them, whispering their prayers, dropping donations in boxes. All familiar rituals.
In Japan, visits to its Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples revealed rituals I was curious to understand. With majority of Japanese subscribing to Buddhism and Shinto, temples and shrines are their places of worship.