|Church of St. William of Aquitania|
We were now on our fifth and last day of our Lakbay Norte 2 media tour and come morning, after a hearty breakfast at Sands Resto Grille in Lighthouse Marina Resort, we were on the road again in our special Victory Liner media bus, this time to return to Pampanga and visit two of the province’s famous churches—one noted for its resiliency in the face of calamity, and the other for its artistic beauty. In Bacolor, we were met at the town’s Church of St. William the Hermit by Mr. Poch Jorolan of the Pampanga Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (PCVB). This church, one of the oldest and largest churches in the province, is a survivor. Probably built in the early 17th century, it has survived damage from the 1645 and 1880 earthquakes, a fire in 1672, as well as heavy damage during the British occupation, being restored each time. However, the Mt. Pinatubo eruption produced lahar flows on September 3, 1995, forcing its more than 50,000 residents to evacuate to safer ground and burying the church up to one-half its 12-m. height. Its 4.9-m.-high main entry disappeared. However, this bastion of faith refused to follow the footsteps of the half-buried Cagsawa Church (Albay) and Guiob Church (Camiguin), all victims of the violent eruptions of Mt. Mayon and Mt. Vulcan Daan, respectively. Bacolonians painstakingly dug up the ornately-carved main and side altars, century-old statues and the retablo (altar backdrop) of the Lady of La Naval from the mud and relocated the retablo under the dome in order for it to fit. They also built a new concrete floor almost at the level of the windows. The profusely and intricately ornamented window of the choir loft now serves as the new main entrance.
Pampanga.Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (PCVB): c/o Everybody’s Café, Nepo Mall, Brgy. Del Pilar, City of San Fernando, Pampanga. Mobile number: (0917) 245-4834. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.