Church of the Holy Trinity (Loay, Bohol)

Church of the Holy Trinity

Upon arrival in Loay, our van entered the  church complex via the short bend from the road to Loboc. This old and charming church, built on top of a plateau overlooking the sea, near the mouth of the Loboc River, is also reached by short flight of stairs from the main highway.

The church after the October 15, 2013 earthquake (photo: Wikipedia)

Built with cut coral stone, it is cruciform in plan, with a low quadrangular pyramid atop the crossing, and was probably finished in 1822. The church was recently declared as a National Cultural Treasure and National Historical Landmark in 2003.

The restored portico facade

The church has two facades: an inner (1822), decorated with low relief (atop the inner doorway is inscribed the year 1822, indicating its presumed date of completion), and an outer three-level Neo-Classical portico-façade (apparently completed in the 20th century as its upper register is in reinforced concrete).

NHI Plaque.  It states that a certain Fr. Leon Inchausti was once assigned to this parish, that he was subsequently martyred during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and that he was canonized in 1999 and is now a saint

It has a semicircular arched main entrance (which formerly had a Latin inscription “Deus Trinus et Unus” above it, alluding to the parish’s dedication to the Holy Trinity) at the first level, rectangular windows on the second level and a low triangular pediment topped by allegorical figures of Faith, Hope and Charity. The sides of the church are reinforced by huge buttresses.

The ceiling murals obscured by a maze of scaffolding

During the October 15, 2013 earthquake, the church’s portico-facade fell down but, during our visit, it had already been restored. Inside, there were still a lot of scaffolding with repair work still ongoing.  The painted trompe o’eil ceiling is filled with murals of Biblical scenes finished by Ray Francia on June 15, 1927.

The colonnaded main altar has a Neo-Classic retablo with images of the Holy Trinity (with God the Father seated on the right, God the Son on the left, and God the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove above them) topped by a baldaquin.

There’s also a massive pipe organ installed in 1841 and a pulpit topped by a torravoz with Neo-Gothic dome and fringed by a “lacework” of metal and wood.

Stairs leading to the choir loft

The separate, three-storey octagonal bell tower, topped by a domed roof, was built by Fr. Carlos Ubeda (1859 to 1865).  The stone and wood convent now houses the Holy Trinity Academy, founded in 1947.

The separate, 3-storey bell tower

Church of the Holy Trinity: Tel: (038) 538-9158 and (038) 501-1145. Feast of the Holy Trinity: Trinity Sunday (May).

How to Get There: Loay is located 22.1 kms. (a 30-min. drive) east of Tagbilaran City.

Bohol Tourism Office: Governor’s Mansion Compound, C.P.G. Ave. North, Tagbilaran City, 6300 Bohol.  Tel: +63 38 501-9186.  E-mail: inquire@boholtourismph.com.

Panglao Bluewater Resort: Bluewater Rd., Sitio Daurong, Brgy. Danao, Panglao, 6340 Bohol.  Tel: (038) 416-0702 and (038) 416-0695 to 96. Fax: (038) 416-0697.  Email: panglao@bluewater.com.ph. Website: www.bluewaterpanglao.com.ph.  Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, Rufino cor. Valera Sts., Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City, Metro Manila.  Tel: (632) 817-5751 and (632) 887-1348.  Fax: (632) 893-5391.

Church of the Assumption of Our Lady (Maragondon, Cavite)

Church of the Assumption of Our Lady

The best preserved church complex in the province, the Church of the Assumption of our Lady was first built in 1618 by the Jesuits, established as a parish church in 1627 and enlarged from 1630-1633. In 1649, during the Spanish-Dutch War, the church was destroyed for fear of becoming a Dutch fort.

Massive buttresses at the side of the church

In 1650, the church was rebuilt by the Jesuits using wood. The renovation of the church, from wood to stone, was completed in 1714. On June 30, 2001, the church was listed by the National Museum as a National Cultural Treasure.

NHI Plaque

Much of the church’s unique, narrow but tall and not squatty façade (chastely ornamented with the pilasters tapering upwards), the lower portion of large convent and the old watchtower were built with irregular river stones from the Maragondon River (Pinagsanhan area), an indication of the early level of technology at that time, and layered with stucco.

The church’s facade

The ornate interior

The church’s ornate interior has intricately-carved, brightly polychromed retablos.  The main retablo is decorated with salomonica columns, foliage and angels with trumpets.

The main (at center) an two side retablos

It has an image of the Assumption of Mary in the main niche flanked by images of San Luis Gonzaga (Saint Aloysius Gonzaga) and a balding and somewhat rotund San Ignacio. The side retablos have lost their original statuary, with newer ones replacing those that had been lost.

The octagonal pulpit

At the right side of the nave  is a octagonal pulpit, also polychromed in red, blue, gold and green, with monograms of the names of Jesus and Mary decorating the panels whose borders are flanked by Salomonica columns. The bottom of the pulpit is decorated with swirling foliage that ends up in an inverted pineapple. Augustinian Recollects installed the unusual horseshoe-shaped communion rail with inlaid wood flooring of various colors.

Carved galleon at door

The ornate, antique door, leading from sanctuary to sacristy, is divided into boxes and has intricately carved galleons, castle turrets and sinuous flora of different shapes.

Carved sinuous flora

The huge, exposed main roof beams that crosses the nave, added by Secular priests,  are emblazoned with Biblical and commemorative captions. Over the nave are phrases in praise of Mary while those above the choir refer to singing as praise.

Exposed wooden roof beams

The quadrilateral, 5-storey bell tower, on the church’s left, has no clear divisions between the stories. It tapers upwards, ending with finials at the four corners, and is topped by a rounded roof.

The 5-storey bell tower

Near the church’s main entrance is a cross, dated 1712. The convent, built from 1666-1672, was where Bonifacio and his brother were imprisoned prior to their execution.  Bonifacio’s cell is now a pre-school classroom.  The older part of the convent, with its elegant staircase of stone and tile, is made of rubble while the newer part is cut stone brick.  A newer sacristy was added. The quadrangle formed by the church and convent is surrounded by the remains of an old defensive wall and a blockhouse.

The convent where the Bonifacio brothers were imprisoned

Church of the Assumption of Our Lady: Brgy. Poblacion 1-A, Maragonon, Cavite.  Tel: (046) 412-0784. Feast o the Assumption of Our Lady: August 14-15.

How to Get There: Maragondon is located 54 kms. from Manila and 25 kms. (a 40-min. drive) from Trece Martires City

Church of St. Ildephonsus of Toledo (Tanay, Rizal)

Church of St. Ildephonsus of Toledo

Church of St. Ildephonsus of Toledo

The best-preserved church complex in the province, this church was first built in nipa and bamboo in 1606.  In 1678, a church built with stone was started by Fr. Pedro de Espallargas, completed in 1680 (the first mass was celebrated on April 20, 1680) but was demolished due to its deteriorating condition as a result of natural calamities.

The side entrance

The side entrance

The present church was started in 1773 and completed in 1783 by Franciscan Fr. Alfonso de Fentañes with good local stone from the Tanay quarry. The six retablos were installed in 1786.

Philippine Historical Committee plaque

Philippine Historical Committee plaque

On July 31, 2001, it was declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and, near the end of 1999, was declared as one of the five Jubilee churches of the Diocese of Antipolo.

The church's Baroque-style facade

The church’s Early Renaissance-style facade

The church’s massive Early Renaissance, adobe-faced, three-level facade features superpositioned columns topped by carved pineapples, semicircular arched main entrance and windows and a triangular pediment with a statued niche framed by an order.

The octagonal bell tower

The octagonal bell tower

On its left is its four-storey octagonal bell tower with semicircular arched windows and, on its right, is the two-storey convent and courtyard. The convent, now housing the rectory, multi-purpose hall and San Ildefonso College, was started in 1640, repaired in 1773, finished in 1783 by Fr. Fentañes and was repaired and improved in 1851.

The convent

The convent

The convent interior

The convent interior

The courtyard

The courtyard

In front of the church is the “Pamana sa Tanay, Hane!!” a 16 ft. high sculpted from an old acacia tree. Designed by Yvette Beatrice Y Co, it was sculpted by Roel Lazarro, Frank B Gajo and sculptors from both Kalayaan and Paete, Laguna. It depicts the Virgin Mary appearing before St. Ildephonsus.

Pamana sa Tanay, Hane!!

Pamana sa Tanay, Hane!!

Inside is a long nave, an intricately decorated wooden pulpit and a silver-plated main altar.    A relic of a piece of bone of St. Ildephonsus, from Zamora, Spain (where the body of the patron saint lies), is housed in a monstrance.  It, was given by Rev. Fr. Felipe Pedraja on October 2006.

The church's interior

The church’s interior

The intricately decorated wooden pulpit

The intricately decorated wooden pulpit

The celebrated 200-year old bas-reliefs of the 14 Stations of the Cross (Via Crucis), encased in large glass windows across each side of the the nave’s walls, are considered as one of the most beautiful in Asia. Indigenized from Western styles, they are believed to have been created by native Tanay artists.

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross

The seventh station

The seventh station.  The soldier wearing sunglasses is fourth from left

The natives in the carvings have Malay features, with brown skin and squat figures. Native culture is distinctly depicted in the tambuli, made of carabao, and the bolo instead of the typical Roman sword. At the seventh station, one soldier even wears sunglasses.

The main retablo

The main retablo

The five ornate retablos, with Rococo design, honor of Our Lady of Anguish (Nuestra Señora de las Angustias), the Immaculate Conception (La Purísima Concepción), Saint Joseph, Saint Peter of Alcantara and the Baptism of Jesus Christ.

Retablo dedicated to Our Lady of Anguish

Retablo dedicated to Our Lady of Anguish

Retablo dedicated to St. Joseph

Retablo dedicated to St. Joseph

Retablo dedicated to St. Peter of Alcantara

Retablo dedicated to St. Peter of Alcantara

Retablo dedicated to the Immaculate Conception

Retablo dedicated to the Immaculate Conception

Retablo dedicated to the Baptism of Jesus Christ

Retablo dedicated to the Baptism of Jesus Christ

Church of St. Ildephonsus of Toledo: M.H. Del Pilar St,   Brgy. Plaza Aldea, Tanay 1980, Rizal. Tel:  (02) 654 1015. Feast of St. Idelfonsus of Toledo: January 23.

How to Get There: Taytay is located 55.37 kms. from Manila and 43.7 kms. (a 1 hour 10 min. drive) from Antipolo City.

Tanay Tourism Office: G/F, New Tanay Municipal Hall, M. H. del Pilar St., Tanay, Rizal 1980.  Tel: (02) 7361059 and (02) 6551773 loc 212-213.  Mobile number: (0998) 988-1590. E-mail: tanaytourism11@gmail.com. Website: www.tanay.gov.ph.

Church of St. William of Aquitaine (Magsingal, Ilocos Sur)

Church of St. William of Aquitaine

Church of St. William of Aquitaine

Magsingal‘s 3-storey, cream and white Church of St. William of Aquitaine, the town’s second, was built in 1827, restored in 1848 and again by Fr. Jose Vasquez.  Its Neo-Classical facade, built within a light wall frame and supported by steep and imposing buttresses (like other Ilocos churches), is divided into 3 levels.

The church complex

The church complex

The first level has a semicircular arched portal flanked by two statued niches and topped by triangular canopies between paired and single Tuscan columns.  A rectangular piece, atop the main entrance’s keystone, contains the Augustinian symbol.

The Neo-Classical facade

The Neo-Classical facade

The second level, a repeat of the first, has a large semicircular window at the center flanked by two windows with triangular pediments, with all 3 having baluster shafts. The third level has a single, semicircular niche (with the statue of St. William the Hermit) flanked by two occoli (small circular windows).  The elaborate curvilinear pediment ends up in finials.  Its tympanum also has a circular window

The adjoining convent

The adjoining convent

The church is linked to the 2-storey convent/school by a capiz window-lined upper corridor mounted over two arches.

The octagonal bell tower

The octagonal bell tower

The nearby 30-m. high, 4-level octagonal brick bell tower, with blind and real semicircular arched fenestration of various sizes, was allegedly built in 1692 and finished by Fr. Pedro Berger (parish priest from 1824 to 1829).

The church interior

The church interior

On July 31, 2001, it was one of the Philippine colonial churches declared by the National Museum as a National Cultural Treasure and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) had identified and selected it as one of 26 Spanish Colonial Era churches to be under its conservation program.

Side altar

Side altar

Inside are the most important examples of Baroque-influenced art in the Ilocos notably the ornate Baroque reredos made of molave (which contain no nails), a choir loft, molave columns, a well-preserved retablo (a total seascape) and an incomparable pulpit.

The altar retablo

The altar retablo. The statues of the mermaids are on the sides of the topmost niche 

Atop the topmost niche (housing the statue of St. William) of the retablo are two nude mermaids.  It is said that the sculptor, Nepomuceno Tolentino, a Magsingal native, used his pregnant wife as a model for the pregnant mermaids.The  whole retablo is topped by a clam shell and the ceiling of the niches are also in clam shell form. On the sides are Classically designed seahorses, above which are big waves (with moderate forms of starfishes on their hold) accented with smaller waves.

The altar

The altar

The richly-carved main altar features Salomonic columns adorned with plant motifs. The pulpit has a statue of a boy with a tambuli or native horn, both made by a certain Pablo Tamayo, a talented Magsingal fisherman. He also designed the choir loft.

The richly carved pulpit

The richly carved pulpit

Commencing from the church and linking various streets are the 14 stone shrines of the Via Crusis (Way of the Cross).

Stairway leading up to the pulpit.

Stairway leading up to the pulpit. On top of the canopy is the statue of the boy with a tambuli (native horn) 

Address: Manila North Road, 2730 Magsingal, Ilocos Sur.  Tel: (077) 726-3565. Feast of St. William of Aquitaine: February 10.

How to Get There: Magsingal is located 419.2 kms. from Manila and 11.2 kms. north of Vigan City.

 

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse Museum (Burgos, Ilocos Norte)

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

After touring Bacarra Church, Melissa, Almira, Albert, Jandy and I again boarded our bus or the 33-km./40 min. drive to the century-old (first lit on March 30, 1892) Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, the most accessible of all the lighthouses in the island of Luzon and the highest elevated (the tower of the Cape Melville Lighthouse is the tallest at 90 ft/27 m.), still original and active Spanish era lighthouse in the country.

NHI Plaque

NHI Plaque

Last April 6, 2004, on our way to Bauang (La Union) from Pagudpud, my family and I dropped by to visit the lighthouse but wasn’t able to go in as it was then being rehabilitated. A few months after our visit, on August 13, 2004, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse was declared a National Historical Landmark and, on June 20, 2005, was also declared by the National Museum as a National Cultural Treasure. Recently, the lighthouse was used as the backdrop for the romantic scenes of Coco Martin and Julia Montes in ABS CBN’s  2012 teleserye “Walang Hanggan.”

View of Cape Bojeador and the West Philippine Sea

View of Cape Bojeador and the West Philippine Sea

In Brgy. Paayas in Burgos, a sign on the right side of the Maharlika Highway indicates the winding and narrow, two-lane concrete road that leads to the base of the lighthouse. From the base, we boarded two tricycles (PhP50/each way) that took us to the small parking lot where  there are stalls selling ice candy, canned soda, some finger foods and souvenirs (including a wooden craft replica of the lighthouse with a pen stand).

The courtyard

The courtyard with cistern in the middle

Service building

Service building

Upon arrival, we climbed a flight of concrete stairs to the perimeter wall.  Here, we had a good view of the rough and rocky Cape Bojeador coastline and the whitecaps of the West Philippine Sea. We then proceeded to the courtyard where the service buildings and the cistern are located.

T-shaped stairway

T-shaped stairway

The main pavilion

The main pavilion

An elegant T-shaped stairway then lead us up the verandah of the main pavilion, with its 3 apartments, 2 offices, capiz and louvered window panes and decorative iron grilles, where a hallway took us to the foot of the covered stairs that that lead to the entrance of the  20 m. (66-ft.) high octagonal stone tower.

Albert, Almira, Melissa an Jandy at the veranda of main pavilion

Albert, Almira, Melissa an Jandy at the veranda of main pavilion

This was as far as we could go as no visitors were allowed to go up, via a steep spiral metal staircase (not recommended or senior citizens), to the lantern room (now a modern electric lamp powered by solar panels) on top. Only a certain number of people are allowed in the tower at a time and access to the viewing gallery (surrounded with decorative iron grille work) depends on the outside wind condition.  As it was Holy Week, it was closed to visitors.

The lighthouse tower

The lighthouse tower

One place we had access to was the small, newly restored Cape Bojeador Lighthouse Museum.  Housed in the pavilion at the foot of the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, the rooms lining the hallway used to be shut but, since its inauguration last November 21, 2015, it is now open to the public. At the time of our visit, the rooms were sparsely decorated with low wooden furniture, including four-poster beds by the windows.

The author at one of the apartments

The author at one of the apartments

One room was filled with items that were once used to run the lighthouse (the original kerosene lamp, batteries, a part of the original first order Fresnel lens, etc.), perhaps the most striking in the area, plus samples of original brick work and old photos.

The lighthouse museum

The lighthouse museum

Original kerosene lamp

Original kerosene lamp

We also dropped by the Paru de Kabo Bojeador, the new tourist center which has stalls selling souvenirs and a safe resting area on what had previously been a construction road. The pavilion has also been transformed into lodging for people seeking basic accommodation (except for shared cooking facilities and water from the cistern, no other amenities are provided).

Original brick work

Original brick work

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse: Vigia de Nagpartian Hill, Burgos, Ilocos Norte. Admission: PhP40 for adults and PhP30 for children aged 7-12 years old.

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria (Luna, La Union)

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria

After a merienda of bibingka at Orang’s in the town proper, we walked to the nearby Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria.  Built by Fr. Mateo Bustillos (parish priest from 1695 to 1697) at its original site in Darigayos (a barrio of Namacpacan), it was transferred to its present site in 1741. In 1829, it was reinforced with masonry and covered with a galvanized iron roof.

The Baroque facade

The Baroque facade

The church was severely damaged during the 1854 earthquake, repaired in 1863 and restored by Fr.  Marcelino Ceballos.  The convent, also damaged during the 1854 earthquake, was also enlarged by Fr.  Ceballos in 1876.  The church is now listed as a National Cultural Treasure.

Side entrance

Side entrance

Just like other Philippine churches built in earthquake-prone areas, this Earthquake Baroque church has thick muros (walls) of brick and stone and buttresses connected to a brick exterior stairway of different designs and shapes.  At the church’s entrance is a capilla possa (ceremonial archway). Its 3-level Baroque-style façade, built in 1872, is painted in an eye-catching white, light blue and pale gray, the official colors of the Image of Our Lady of Namacpacan, the church and the town. Even tricycles are painted in light blue.

One of the church buttresses

One of the church buttresses

A unique step buttress that leads up to the roof

A unique step buttress that leads up to the roof

The first level has 3 sets of two pairs of engaged columns and 2 sets of single columns while the second level has two sets of Tuscan columns, all with double capitals, plus 6 sets of paired columns at the center.   The curved pediment, complemented by semicircular arched openings and blind niches, is reinforced by the heavy architrave.

Plaque

Plaque

The twin 3-storey, hexagonal bell towers, flanking the facade, have blind and real fenestrations and is crowned by a pointed Baroque-style, balustered dome. Part of the brick convent ruins is now used as a school (Sta. Catalina Academy).  Inside the church is a wooden altar, a Spanish-era stone pulpit and a wood relief of the Baptism of Christ, probably polychromed.

Convent ruins

Convent ruins

Sta. Catalina Academy

Sta. Catalina Academy

The church interior also enshrines the supposedly miraculous 6-foot 4-inch high (the tallest known image of the Virgin in the country) wooden image of Our Lady of Namacpacan (the original name of the town, it is an Ilocano term meaning “one who feeds), enshrined in the church in 1871.  The patroness of travelers and of the town, it is said by experts to be the image of Our Lady of the Cord.

Church interior

Church interior

Main altar

Main altar

Also called Apo Baket, the image has been credited with many miracles and devotees flock here every year to honor her.  On November 24, 1959, by a special decree of Pope John XXIII, Our Lady of Namacpacan was canonically crowned by the high-ranking officials led by Papal Nuncio Salvatore Siino.

Statue of Our Lady of Namacpacan

Statue of Our Lady of Namacpacan

In 1871, an Augustinian priest ordered an image of the Virgin Mary from Spain to be brought to the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Vigan, Ilocos Sur in a galleon. However, a typhoon forced the ship and its crew to seek refuge at Darigayos (a barrio then named Namacpacan). When the storm subsided, they tried to resume their voyage, but the high winds forced them to return to the port.

The captain of the ship then decided to bring the statue to the port and then have it carried overland to its original destination. While making preparations, the statue was brought to the convent.  The church at that time was undergoing repairs on the damaged portions brought about by a strong earthquake. The following morning, they commenced their trip to Vigan but the natives had some difficulties in carrying the box containing the figure of the Blessed Virgin. So, after several failed attempts, they presumed that the Blessed Virgin has chosen the town of Namacpacan as her haven.

Rev. Fr. Marcelino Ceballos, the parish priest of Namacpacan, negotiated with the Augustinian friar Camilo Naves to let the image stay in Namacpacan.  It was agreed upon that the Catholics from Namacpacan would reimburse all expenses incurred.  The parishioners contributed joyously and generously to the extent of selling portions of their fields to raise the amount. An altar at the northern portico side of the church was constructed to house the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, now Our Lady of Namacpacan.

Later on, many miracles happened. The lame, 13 year old Rosa Roldan, claimed that, one day, an old woman knocked on the door of their home and asked for drink and food. She let her in and gave her some leftover food.

The old woman drank some water and some of it fell on Rosa’s feet. Before she left, she told Rosa to meet her at the shrine and from there, Rosa began to walk. When she came to the shrine, she was surprised to see the figure of the Our Lady of Namacpacan and recognized her as her visitor. Since then, Rosa has become a devotee of the Our Blessed Lady and started healing the sick and offering charity service to those in need.

Left side altar

Left side altar

Right side altar

Right side altar

The stone pulpit

The stone pulpit

Today the church is flocked by devotees who are expected to fetch water from a well that is believed to cure diseases. The well was created because of a dream of a “balikbayan” woman, who said that Apo Baket appeared in her dream and told her to dig a well near the church. The woman then asked volunteers to dig a well and some people, after attending the mass, drank water from the well and many professed that they felt stronger.  A physically ill man also claimed that the water from the well cured him. Afterwards, the Department of Health (DOH) sent a delegate to investigate the water’s chemical substance and discovered that it is alkaline which is safe for drinking.

Well

Well

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria: Namacpacan Rd., Luna 2518, La Union.

How to Get There: Luna is located 267.48 kms.  from Manila and 34.8 kms. north of the City of San Fernando.  Air conditioned buses from Dominion Bus Lines, Philippine Rabbit, Partas, Fariñas, Maria de Leon, and Viron depart from terminals in Manila that is bound for Ilocos. Destinations can either be La Union, Narvacan, Vigan, Laoag or Abra. Just tell the bus attendant that you are going to Luna.

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Church of St. Vincent Ferrer (Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya)

After covering the Kalanguya Festival, Roel, Alex and I boarded our van for the 2-hour trip to the town of Dupax del Sur where we dropped by its Church of St. Vincent Ferrer,  one of the oldest and biggest churches in North Luzon and the best-preserved church complex in Nueva Vizcaya. Here, we met up with parish priest Fr. Ferdinand E. Lopez.

Church of St. Vincent Ferrer

Church of St. Vincent Ferrer – a National Cultural Treasure

Declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in July 2001, this 18th-century  church,  under the advocation of Saint Vincent Ferrer (though its original titular patron was  the Nuestra Señora del Socorro), is under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bayombong.

The 4-level, rectangular brick bell tower

The 4-level, rectangular brick bell tower

Made of brick, lime, coral or river rock and wood plastered over with stucco, the church covers an area of 7,200 sq. m. and its architectural design is similar to that of St. Peter Cathedral in Tuguegarao City, only less in ornamentation and lower in height with no spiral columns and pilasters to offer support to the structure.

The semicircular arched main portal, embellished with clay insets

The semicircular arched main portal, embellished with clay insets

The present structure (an earlier church structure of modest design might have been erected before 1773), built by Dominican Fr. Manuel Corripio, OP with brick in 1776, mimics the silhouette of the earlier Tuguegarao Cathedral and is reflected on the churches of Bayombong and Bambang. During its construction, Fr. Corripio had two kilns made near the church complex, one for firing bricks and the other for preparing lime.

Window framed by embossed carvings

Window framed by embossed carvings

The Baroque-style façade, divided by cornices into horizontal segments of plastered brick,  features a semicircular arched main portal, embellished with clay insets (representing symbols of the Dominican Order), and a main doorway flanked on both sides by two blind windows with an embossed image of the Holy Eucharist, all  at the first level.  The second level features a niche and two windows framed by embossed carvings.

Blind window with an embossed image of the Holy Eucharist

Blind window with an embossed image of the Holy Eucharist

The entire triangular pediment, divided into two horizontal sections, is capped by undulating cornices and 7 finials, with the central finial crowned with a cross.  The lower half is pierced by a deeply-recessed oculus  while the upper part features a small relief of a cross.

The triangular pediment

The triangular pediment

To the right of the façade is the unplastered, 4-level, rectangular bell tower whose base features a niche with the statue of St. Vincent Ferrer, similar to that found on the second level of the façade.  The tower’s second level features long, narrow windows framed with bracket columns. It is capped with a decorative parapet and a small cupola surmounted by a cross.

Niche with the statue of St. Vincent Ferrer at the bell tower

Niche with the statue of St. Vincent Ferrer at the bell tower

Long, narrow windows framed with bracket columns

Long, narrow windows framed with bracket columns

Each level bears inscription of the years when it must have been completed. We climbed all the way to the top of the tower via a very narrow, dark and steep stairway.  Two of the four bells were cast in 1858 and 1888. Up on the tower, we had a panoramic view of the whole town and the mountains of the Sierra Madre.

View of the town and mountains from the bell tower

View of the town and mountains from the bell tower

Inside the church are two, white-washed narthex pillars, supporting the choir loft, embellished with finely-carved stucco reliefs of cherubs, shells, florals and arabesques. Similar motifs can also be found on the baptistery. The original main retablo (altar backdrop) and pulpit are still intact but the heads of the statues in the retablo are believed to be just reproductions of the ivory ones stolen over the course of the church’s history.

The church interior

The church interior

White-washed narthex pillars embellished with finely-carved stucco reliefs

White-washed narthex pillars embellished with finely-carved stucco reliefs

The 2-storey church convent, connected to the church, still retains slits on the outer walls for archers to defend against attacks and target marauders. The church plaza is enclosed by a low perimeter wall and a replica of an earlier atrial cross.

The similarly ornate carvings in the baptistery

The similarly ornate carvings in the baptistery

Church of St. Vincent Ferrer: Aritao-Quirino Rd., Brgy. Dopaj, Dupax del Sur, 3707, Nueva Vizcaya.  Tel: (078) 808 1016.

The church pulpit

The church pulpit

How To Get There: Dupax del Norte is located 248.26 kms. from Manila and 26 kms. south of Bayombong.

Church of St. Peter the Apostle and the Alfonso L. Uy Promenade (Loboc, Bohol)

From the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary, we returned to our airconditioned coach and proceeded, via the Tagbilaran City-Corella-Sikatuna-Loboc Rd., on our 14.5-km./15- min. drive to Loboc where we were to have a late lunch while cruising the Loboc River.  We arrived at the Loboc Tourism Complex by 1:30 PM. Across the complex is the Church of St. Peter the Apostle, the second oldest church in Bohol and its first declared National Cultural Treasure. Built in 1602 by Fr. de Torres, it was destroyed by fire in 1638.  The present church was built in 1734.

The church facade 11 years ago

The church facade 11 years ago

The ruined facade

The ruined facade

The church I saw was just a broken shell of what I saw 11 years ago as the church sustained major damage during the devastating October 15, 2013, 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Its Early Renaissance façade was completely destroyed while major damage could be seen at the lateral walls and ceiling of the church as well as its conventThe whole church has been fenced in as its collapsed middle section cannot be entered at all. The pipe organ was said to among the elements of the church that were spared from damage.

View of the church from the side

View of the church from the side

The collapsed middle section

The collapsed middle section

Its separate 21-m. high, 4-storey octagonal stone bell tower, located about 30 m. (98 ft.) across the street from the church, also collapsed leaving less than half the tower standing. Years ago, the timely objection by the Lobocnons prevented the bell tower’s destruction when a huge concrete bridge, not justified by any traffic, was being built.

The bell tower prior to the earthquake

The bell tower prior to the earthquake

What remains of the collapsed bell tower

What remains of the collapsed bell tower

At that time, the townspeople had expressed their apprehension that driving the piles to support the ramp, from the superstructure to ground level, might destroy the church, the belfry or both.The project was thus discontinued and this unfinished white elephant of a bridge, that stuck out like a sore thumb in the town center, has somehow been put to good use, having been converted, in 2008, into the Alfonso L. Uy Promenade.  Sadly, what man failed to destroy, nature almost succeeded in doing.

The Alfonso L. Uy Promenade

The Alfonso L. Uy Promenade

The unfinished bridge today

The unfinished bridge today

To turn the bridge into a promenade,  Arch. German Torero,  a National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA)-accredited architect, was tasked to carefully design it so that it will blend with the design of the nearby church and bell tower. Some PhP4 million in corporate funds was also spent to install tiles, build a stairway on the Poblacion side and adding enhancements. Today, the promenade, now a tourist attraction, is used as a park as well as viewing platform to see the damaged (and, hopefully, soon to be repaired) church and bell tower

Church of Pope St. Gregory the Great (Majayjay, Laguna)

From Lucban, we finally crossed the Quezon-Laguna boundary, into Majayjay where we made a short stopover at the town’s Church of Pope St. Gregory the Great.  This would be my second visit to the town, having done so 12 years ago (October 13, 2002) with Jandy. This Augustinian-built church is now listed, by the National Museum, as a National Cultural Treasure.

Church of Pope St. Gregory the Great

Church of Pope St. Gregory the Great

Side of the church

The moss and vine-covered side of the church

I featured the town and its church in my article Hay Hay! Majayjay which appeared in TODAY (November 10, 2002) and a previous B.L.A.S.T. blog entry. Its unusually tall, stone and brick colonial Baroque facade, with its  6-m. thick adobe walls (though still covered with unsightly vines and moss), was still impressive even after all those years.

The church's long rectangular nave

The church’s long rectangular nave

The plaque installed by the National Historical Institute (NHI)

The plaque installed by the National Historical Institute (NHI)

During my first visit, I wasn’t able to explore the church interior in detail as a wedding was ongoing at that time.  This time there wasn’t any wedding as we walked the azulejo-tiled floor of the 60-m. long and 17-m. wide, rectangular nave, admiring  the antique relief statues of saints lining it, the wooden balconies above it on both sides, an elaborately decorated wooden pulpit accessed by a stair, a Sto. Entierro, and the 3 elaborate retablos (altar backdrops) with its pantheon of saints.

The 3 impressive retablos

The 3 impressive retablos

The wooden pulpit

The wooden pulpit

Violeta, Lanny and I were also able to go up the hexagonal bell tower, via the choir loft, just as we did in Pagbilao. Jandy and Maricar stayed behind.  Of equally huge proportions as the church, the  bell tower was supported by unusual 16.5-m. high solid buttresses. The catwalk above the ceiling (called langit-langitan), leading to the crossing above the transept, can no longer be accessed as it has deteriorated.

The dome above the altar

The dome above the altar

Violet and Lanny climbing the stairs going up to the bell tower

Violet and Lanny climbing the stairs going up to the bell tower

Unlike the bell tower of Pagbilao, the stairs going up was sturdy concrete with steel railings.  And just like in Pagbilao, we also had a commanding view, upon reaching the top, of the town as well as Laguna de Bay . The tower had 5 century-old bells. its main bell was said to weigh about 3,000 kgs. and its thunderous peal can be heard 3 kms. away.  

One of the church bells

One of the church bells

View of the town from the top of the bell tower

View of the town from the top of the bell tower

Church of Pope St. Gregory the Great: Poblacion, Majayjay, Laguna.  Tel: (049) 258-1012.

How To Get There: Majayjay is located 120 kms. from Manila and 18 kms. from Sta. Cruz.

Church of San Joaquin (Iloilo)

During the start of the Antique Heritage and Media Familiarization Tour, we passed by San Joaquin town on our way to Antique, making a short stopover at the town;s Spanish-era cemetery (Campo Santo) and its iconic mortuary chapel (capilla).

San Joaquin Church

San Joaquin Church

Too bad we didn’t make a stopover at its equally iconic, Spanish-era church, a listed National Cultural Treasure.  On our way back to Iloilo International Airport, I specifically requested our driver to make a slight detour to make a stopover there.

Statue of St. Francis of Assisi

Statue of St. Francis of Assisi

Statue of San Pedro Regalado, patron saint of bullfighters

Statue of San Pedro Regalado, patron saint of bullfighters

This church, the country’s most militaristic, was started in 1859 and completed in 1869 by Augustinian Fr. Tomas Santaren (parish priest from 1855-86) using gleaming white coral rock quarried from the shores of Punta Malagting, Brgy. Igcadlum in Igbaras town.

The Augustinian seal on top of the main entrance

The Augustinian seal on top of the main entrance

The church’s simple, three-level, old weathered stone facade has a central arched main entrance flanked by paired columns (which divide the rectangular sections into three segments) and the two statued niches of St. Francis of Assisi and San Pedro Regalado, the patron saint of bullfighters.

The single, tapering bell tower

The single, tapering bell tower

The choir loft level, decorated by two horizontally arranged niches and round central window, is set apart from the two levels by a simple architrave.  Ornamentation can be found in rosettes along the cornice and around the edges of the niches and capitals.

The triangular pediment

The triangular pediment

The church’s central attraction, however, is the fascinating high bas-relief sculpture of intricately carved (even the expression of agony by soldiers are visible) stonework spread on mosaic blocks (each carved and set in place) on its triangular pediment (with the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows on its top), entitled Rendicion de Tetuan. It was added halfway through construction by Fr. Santaren with the assistance of Spanish Engr. Felipe Diez and a Filipino (some say Chinese) carver.

The bas relief

The bas relief

Detail of bas relief

Detail of bas relief

Originally pigmented red, blue and yellow, it depicted the Battle of Tetuan (Morocco, 1859), part of the Spanish-Moroccan War of 1859-1860, in which Spanish troops under Prime Minister  Leopoldo O’Donnell, 1st Duke of Tetuan,  defeated the Moorish troops of Moroccan Crown Prince Muley Abbas and recaptured the Spanish city of Tetuan on February 6, 1860.

Plaque

Plaque

Black soot covers many areas of the facade, a result of the January 29, 1943 fire ordered by Col. Macario Peralta to prevent the church from being used by the Japanese. The church was also heavily damaged during the January 25, 1948 Lady Caycay earthquake.

The church's interior

The church’s interior

Spanish infantry and cavalry are shown breaking the Moorish defense against a backdrop of minarets and date palms.  It is a larger than life depiction of the struggle between Christians and the Moros of Mindanao and Sulu.  Inside are three carved limestone retablos.  The sprawling ruins of the convent have an oval well and a kiln for baking bread.

How To Get There: San Joaquin is located 53.5 kms. from Iloilo City and 12.2 kms. from Miag-ao.