Turumba or Tarumba? When you get to Pakil, Laguna either in search of Lanzones or woodcraft or Jose Luciano Dans’ century-old paintings, you can’t miss Pakil Church — official residence of the Virgen de Turumba. But what is Turumba? That was the first question we asked Brother Erning, the Church Marshall.




Nuestra Senora de los Dolores or Virgen de Turumba


Interior Shot. Altar with 14 icons behind in separate niches, veiled in purple satin this Lenten Season.



It was Lent that Friday we visited. All 14 icons in separate intricately carved niches behind the main altar, veiled in purple satin. Brother Erning drilled us on the Turumba or Tarumba Legend and toured us around the majestic San Pedro de Alcantara Church, sometimes referred to as the Church of the Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores or Virgen de Turumba. Built in 1767, the Virgen has been enshrined here since 1788 when it was fished out of Laguna de Bay. The legend goes that no one could lift the image till the parish priest came to bring it to this Church followed by locals singing and dancing in glee. The trance-like dance was called Turumba. Or Tarumba — literally meaning “natumba sa laki ng tuwa” or “tremble in great joy”. It is also the sound of drumbeats during the processions marking the feast of Turumba culminating sometime in September of each year.





Chapel of the Virgen de Turumba



I’ve done my research before coming here. But Brother Erning’s version is soooo much better. He regaled us with stories about the Virgin and brought us to this tiny, lovely Chapel where the image is enshrined. He reminded us to ask permission from the Virgin before taking any photos. Then he proceeded to tell us how a magical cloud floated over the 18th century church as US bombing squads hovered above during the Second World War. How many believed the Virgin saved the town with this miracle which inspired many to dress the Virgin’s image in intricately beaded gowns. The count to date per Brother Erning is 50,000 gowns donated by the faithful! (My earlier research pegged it at only 700) The Virgin changes gowns every 2 weeks, and each worn gown is cut up in small patches and distributed to the faithful. We were fortunate to go home with patches of these embroidered and beaded gowns.




The Corridor Leading to the Collection of Gowns Donated By the Faithful


50,000 Gowns! Only to be cut up in small patches after they’re worn.



Brother Erning is a legend himself. His love for the Virgin, this Church and his hometown is legendary. But he’s got a couple of stories which floored me. The first was how Pakil was spared from Japanese invaders who occupied neighboring towns. His story goes that the Japanese Army was not drawn to this town because of fear of being attacked by ants. Say that again? A.N.T.S. as in Lanzones ants! The other story has to do with Jose Luciano Dans’ 200 year-old painting of “Langit, Purgatoryo (or Lupa?) at Impyerno“. Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. When I asked Brother Erning why the painting depicted ONLY WOMEN in hell, his candid answer was to point out that the figures included both men and women except ……. that Dans didn’t want to be irreverent by painting men with their “hanging ornaments”. How’s that? Plausible, yes, but nevertheless a rib tickler. 🙂




Inspired by Dante’s Inferno? This is Luciano Dans’ Langit, Lupa (or Purgatoryo) at Impyerno. Read below for a most interesting story. 🙂


Brother Erning, the Church Marshall.



Before we left, Brother Erning brought us up the choir loft and bell tower. This time, he got us listening to some recent happenings in this church. The hit and ongoing TV series or teleserye “Juan Dela Cruz” shoots all its church and plaza scenes here. In fact, Brother Erning stars in some episodes! He reminded us to watch the next few episodes where he’s featured before we climbed down and marched out of the Church. In particular, he mentioned the scene where Juan dela Cruz battles the vampires! Really, we just love these stories and we love Brother Erning even more!




Check out that Pieta painting. Looks so much like the famous and treasured Michelangelo’s sculpture, right?


One last look at Pakil Church. Location shoot for the hit teleserye “Juan de la Cruz”.


The rural town of Pakil, Laguna. 4th stop after Calamba, Pila and Paete in a roadtrip around Laguna de Bay. Try it! Very doable for a day trip south of Manila.