Devotees looking to visit Laguna’s historical churches this Holy Week can do so from the safety of their homes thanks to the Virtual Visita Iglesia.
“We first learned about the project from the Parish Pastoral Council, which I am a part of. We knew that the usual Visita Iglesia would not be possible because of the pandemic, so we’re happy that this platform exists. In fact, our family will be doing this together — including family members from abroad. It’s a good way to spend the Holy Week. We can still fulfill our Catholic obligation while in the safety of our homes,” said Josefina Concepcion Lector, a teacher in Miriam College Nuvali in Calamba.
Virtual reality experience
The Virtual Visita Iglesia in Laguna 2021 includes 30 diocesan churches from San Pedro to Santa Maria. A project of the provincial government of Laguna, the Laguna Tourism Culture Arts and Trade Office (LTCATO), the Diocese of San Pablo, Laguna-based startup Virtual Reality Travel, and leading mobile services provider Smart Communications, this allows tourists to listen to prayers while virtually walking through the entire expanse of churches and viewing the retablos, images of saints, mural paintings, and other religious artifacts.
Smart and TNT customers can access the Virtual Visita Iglesia for free until Easter Sunday, April 4 by visiting this site.
“Especially in this pandemic, every peso counts. Because Smart has enabled us to access this platform for free, more people can join the Virtual Visita Iglesia, not just from Laguna, but from other parts of the country, too,” Lector said.
Enabling this virtual reality experience is Smart’s LTE network, present from Batanes to Sulu, and across all of Laguna’s 30 municipalities. As part of the company’s continuous network expansion and upgrade efforts, it has also fired up Smart 5G sites in Laguna, especially in San Pedro, Biñan and Santa Rosa.
“We are proud to partner with the provincial government of Laguna, LTCATO and Virtual Reality Travel in powering this Virtual Visita Iglesia and making this tradition more accessible to our customers, even amid the restrictions of the pandemic,” said John Y. Palanca, Smart FVP and Regional Head – Consumer Sales Group.
“Visita Iglesia is something very close to the heart of Catholics, especially during Holy Week. With this project, they will be able to fulfill their devotion while staying safe amid the pandemic. Laguna has a lot of beautiful, historical churches, and we are happy that this platform makes it possible for people to still visit these churches,” said Msgr. Jerry Bitoon of the Diocese of San Pablo.
To inform parishioners, churches are putting up tarpaulins of the Visita Iglesia map featuring QR codes that can be scanned to access the virtual tour for corresponding churches.