Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Old Churches of Pampanga:
Santa Rita Church

      So this is the 7th and the last church I visited in Pampanga with blogger friends Don Triviño of bonggaba.com and Fitz Villafuerte of readytoberich.com. Our church tour took place in February 27, 2014, starting at the municipality of Angeles, then San Fernando, Bacolor, Guagua, Lubao, and finally Santa Rita.


     You would think that this church is abandoned when you look at the facade with its weathered-off paint and ferns growing on the crevasses. Well I actually like it. Santa Rita de Casia Church looks even older than the other historical churches in Pampanga. This structure was completely built in 1868.


     The interior of the church look pretty rustic. 
The municipality of Santa Rita is after all a farming town.


          Of course a church in a rural town can still have their dome ceiling artistically painted.



      The main feature of this church is this reliquary with an affluent gothic style retablo located at the left wing, facing the altar.



       At the chest of this half-body statue of  St. Rita is a first-class relic. The relic is from the flesh of the Saint which was part of the last batch extracted from her incorrupt body in 1972. Saint Rita (1381-1457) was an  Italian Augustinian nun. She's often depicted with a stigmatic wound on her forehead. She is the patron saint of heartbroken women and widows.

         See more photos HERE.

        And so this concludes my coverage of the historical churches of Pampanga. I hope it inspired you to visit these beautiful edifices of worship. May you travel safe in your Visita Iglesia and have a Blessed Holy Week.

Old Churches of Pampanga:
Lubao Church

     I just love the adobe and terracota exterior of this church in Lubao. Also known as Saint Augustine Church, it is the oldest church in the province of Pampanga. 


     Lubao Church was built from 1614 to 1630. It was occupied by the Revolutionist in 1898 and was used as a military hospital by the U.S. Army in 1899.  Japanese shelling destroyed it in 1942. Repairs began in 1949 and was completed in 1952.


          The brick walls in the interior adds a rustic charm to this church just like Liliw Church in Laguna.



      Tiered retablos are very much the trademark of very old and well preserved churches in the Philippines.


See more photos HERE.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Old Churches of Pampanga:
Immaculate Conception Church

     With its painted white facade you wouldn't think that the Immaculate Conception Parish  was actually built in 1772. It stands serenely amidst the busy urban town of Guagua.


        The interior is quite simple. A clean classical look with a few baroque accents.



     I like the architecture of the retablo but I think another color needs to be added to make the columns stand out. Sorry, didn't mean to criticize.



       I have to admit they have fabulous windows. Nice cornice and draperies! Maybe this emerald green color is what I'm looking for at the retablo.


See all more photos HERE.

Old Churches of Pampanga:
Betis Church

     The fourth church that my friends and I visited is the church in Betis Area that is also known as the Parish Church of St. James the Apostle. It is my favorite church in Pampanga because of its marvelous interior. This church built in 1770 was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines and the NCCA in 2001.


     A Natural Treasure like this must be preserved and protected indeed. Iron gates safeguard this intricately carved door that is probably more than 200 years old.


      Paintings in the form of murals and trompe l'oeil cover the majority of the walls and ceilings. Simon Flores, one of the most celebrated Filipino painters of the 19th-Century, as well as Macario Ligon and his nephew-apprentice Victor Ramos, also Daning Henson and a Mr. Pangilinan, all contributed to the breath-taking beauty that emanates inside Betis Church.


       This is the ceiling painting above the nave. There's a museum at the left side of the church and there you'll find infographics about the artworks found inside the church.



        Betis is like the Paete of the North - home to many professional Pinoy woodcarvers. The intricate details of this Baroque retablo and the solid wood rebultos resonate the fine craftsmanship of Betis sculptors.


See more photos HERE.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Old Churches of Pampanga:
San Guillermo Church

     The third church in Pampanga that I visited, with a couple of friends,  is located in Bacolor.  When I first saw it, I thought that it is a rather low-rise church compared to the first two that we visited earlier.


      I didn't  know that this church is actually half-buried in volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. The volcano erupted in 1991 but typhoon waters in October 1995 created a mudslide and tragically buried the entire town with over 6 meters of volcanic ash.
   
      The original 1576 church was destroyed by earthquake in 1880 and was rebuilt in 1886. This is indeed a very old structure.



       Inside the church, the floor is now at the same level as the base of window arches. Because the windows are buried, dormers  on the roof provide light and ventilation.



     The altar, as well as the central and side retablos were painstakingly excavated and restored. They are after all  centuries-old heritage of  the town of Bacolor.



      The church also has a museum. Though also half-burried, it has a large floor area that dramatically exhibits the parish' memorabilia.


  See more photos HERE.