Monday, March 30, 2015

Old Cavite Churhes:
Maragondon Church

   The 7th church we visited is the Church of Maragondon. Sounds like a place in Middle Earth hehe.
It is also known as the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish Church and it  is actually a National Cultural Treasure. Its rural simplicity really charmed me the most.

      The first structure made of light materials was built in 1618. Then the first stone structure was built from 1630 to 1633, only to be later demolished by the government to prevent invading Dutchmen (Olandes) from using it for fortification. (Netherlands at that time was fighting for independence from Spain).
After 1650 another wooden church was built. The construction of a new stone church, which probably is what we see standing there today,  was completed in 1714.

    Check out this awesome main door. Beautifully weathered by 3 centuries! Our revolutionaries walked in and out of this door when they made this church one of their bases in May 1897.

      The church interior with its white walls and ceiling creates a bright and roomy atmosphere that is grand and simple at the same time.

       The plain white backdrop provided by the walls and ceiling gave emphasis to the main retablo (as well as the other two at the transepts) to which all ornamentation is concentrated.

    Well there's also the elevated pulpit, which certainly was not deprived of attention ^_^

Old Churches of Cavite:
Naic Church

    The 6th church that we visited is the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Naic, Cavite. Looks like it was just recently repainted because I've seen  a  photo of a more weathered Naic Church. Anyway, the parish was founded in 1796, the present structure was completed in 1896. Of all the old churches that we visited in Cavite, this is the only one with a Gothic architectural style. 

       Plain white ceilings. Not only do they emphasize the beauty of the natural stone walls but they also make the interior look larger than it really is.

    No main retablo in Cavite could be more 3D than this. Why, it looks like a church inside a church!

    The retablo of the tabernacle, located at the left wing,  is equally as impressive. Love the angels!

   Across the Baptistery near the entrance of the church is this large contemporary statue of Mary. The Immaculate Conception, according to Catholic teachings, is the conception of Mary in her mothers womb. Free from original sin by virtue of the foreseen merits of her son Jesus Christ. The Immaculate Conception is often confused with the virginal conception of Jesus in Mary's womb.

       While we are taking photos inside the church, a young man who is probably an altar boy approached us and told us about something that might interest us about the church. So he led us to the yard at the left side of the church to show us this damaged part of the bell tower that was caused by bombing during World War 2.

     He also showed us to the church's little museum where the old church paraphernalia are kept, such as antique candelabras, crowns and halos used on rebultos, and a lot of other interesting stuff. Do check out the other photos!

Old Churches of Cavite:
Tanza Church

       Our 5th destination of my Cavite church tour, together with blogger friends Don and Fitz that took place 11th of March this year, is the Church of Tanza also known as Santa Cruz Church, and also San Agustin Church. Again it's another old church with walls that speak less of the details of its history. 

      But thanks to an awesome article I found by Alain Austria entitled The Hardwood Patriarch (pertaining to the statue of San Agustin de Tanza), I learned that the construction of the present church began sometime in 1860 and was completed a decade after. The founding of the parish, however, dates back to 1780.

     Stepping into this small but sturdy church in the daytime makes you think you're witnessing an apparition because of a bright light coming from the altar, which actually is just a stained glass window above the main retablo.

        I think this is the fist time ever I saw a retablo that's colored  black, silver and gold and I'm really loving it.

      The retablo at the left wing houses the antique statue of San Agustin de Tanza whom the locals call "Tata Usteng". Because there isn't any written proof of where the image came from, the story that was passed down by oral tradition might as well be the official history. They say it was found lying in a burnt field called BaƱadero near the banks of Obispo River, by a farmer sometime in 1795. The farmer brought it to the governor of the town, who thought of it as just an ordinary wooden rebulto, decided to use it as a tying post for horses under the staircase of the town hall. The parish priest of that time, Fr Narciso Manas, took the statue out from it's sorry state and enshrined it inside the church, after he had dreamt of San Agustin instructing him to do so. And since then reports of miracles and granted favors were associated with the image which started a popular devotion to Tata Usteng. 

      Had I known this story, I would have taken an even closer look at the statue and maybe even whispered a request!

    Right next to retablo at the left wing is this large statue of Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustin.

       A series of these stained glass windows envelop the church interior. Each of an Apostle and other saints. Very impressive work!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Old Churches of Cavite:
General Trias Church

      The 4th destination of our Cavite church tour brought us to the town of General Trias, named after the 1st Vice President of the Philippine Republic, Mariano Trias. Their church is also known as The Parish of Saint Francis of Assisi.

     The first stone structure was built in 1769 and it underwent a series of  repairs, refurbishing, and expansion through the decades. It was only in 1989 to 1991 that the church was restored to it's original look.

    And as always, stepping inside an old church is like a journey back in a time way way long before you were born.

      A gilded retablo leads the eye to the dome ceiling that depict the Apostles when the Holy Spirit descended upon them as tongues of fire.

     The town's patron saint, Francis of Assisi, is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. He founded the religious order from which later came the missionaries that established many churches in the Philippines.

Off to the next church. But first, let me do a selfie :P

Old Churches of Cavite:
Rosario Church

       So the 3rd church we visited in Cavite on that gloomy 11th day of March is the  Church of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol. Please do excuse this horrible photo. It was difficult to find a good angle that will show more of the facade and less of that big tarp signage installed above the porch. The porch obviously isn't part of the original structure. The construction of the stone church began sometime in 1845. 

    Rosario, by area, is the smallest municipality in Cavite so we really didn't expect to see a church with the size of a basilica. Small as it may be, the interior of Rosario Church is charmingly rustic. No overwhelming retablos to distract an art aficionado from his prayers. The church, however keeps something that is of great value to the to the town...

     This is a replica of the antique painting that is kept at the altar of the church. The original icon is the very key to the foundation of the town and parish of Rosario. It is said that the Marian icon was given to the townsfolk  by the crewmen of a cargo boat from Mindoro, the morning after being caught in a hurricane at sea. During that frightful night the captain of the boat prayed to this image of the Virgin and promised to build a chapel in her honor if they survive.

       And so when the sailors finally made it to shore they had a chapel  built on the ground made of bamboo and even used some of the wood from their battered boat to build an altar.  After a thanksgiving feast, they left the framed painting, and the story of how it miraculously saved their lives, to the people of the coastal bario that was then called Mojon. After sometime, the people decided to relocate the chapel and give their precious gift a permanent home which is the old adobe church standing there today. Read about the beginnings of the town of Rosario, the financial struggle to build the church, and the story behind the Caracol Festival by following this link

    Another remarkable feature in Rosario church is this life-size statue of a sorrowful Virgin Mary. I'm not sure if it's antique but I simply love the sad and beautiful face that is realistically done. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Old Churches of Cavite:
Kawit Church

  You may have visited Kawit to see the Aguinaldo Shrine. But have you ever step foot inside the beautiful Church of St. Mary Magdalene? Well good for you if you have! I'm sure you will agree that this church is truly a jewel in the town of Kawit. 

      The construction of the present structure began in 1737. Yup it's really old. In fact our very first Philippine President, Emilio Aguinaldo, was baptized here. Americans bombarded this church in the war of 1898 when they learned that Filipino leaders were hiding here for protection. But the good old Kawitenyos repaired it soon after, keeping the original finish of brick and lime plaster.

       When we got here there was a mass. It was in celebration of the foundation day of St. Mary Magdalene School. I think the church was able to seat all the elementary and highschool students. Yeah it's that big!

The grand retablo, beatifuly baroque in gold and white.

     The parquet dome ceiling looks really elegant. As if it was woven together.

    The retablo at the left wing houses the antique life-size statue of St. Mary Magdalene. The statue is said to be miraculous. You'll also find in this part of the church the birth certificate of Emilio Aguinaldo.

Old Churches of Cavite:
Bacoor Church

      It is now the season of Lent. A couple of weeks ago, my long-time friends Don (above center) author of and Fitz (left) of again invited me to their yearly  dry-run trip to churches they plan to visit for their Visita Iglesia with their folks. So this year it was the old churches of the province of Cavite. Because it is known to be the Historical Capital of the Philippines, Cavite is sure to have lots of churches built during Spanish colonial times.

     The fist church we visited in that surprisingly gloomy day this Summer  is the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Bacoor. Looks really old with it's adobe walls. 

     Not as large as some churches in Cavite with a cruciform floor plan, though it is said that it used to be. Little is known about the history of this church. You will not find an official NHCP marker  here, to think that Bacoor is one of the towns that rose up against the Spaniards. The Katipunan might have held secret meetings in these old church grounds.

       But we do know that the parish was established in 1752. The first church structure is most likely to have been made of light materials, just as the beginnings of other old churches all over the country. The present adobe structure may have been built in the 1800's.  
       We really don't have the time to look for someone to chat with regarding the history of this church as we are targeting to visit 12 churches in Cavite in one day. It would have been awesome if there was at least a board in here that featured  some history. Nonetheless, kudos to the people of Bacoor for preserving the old charm of this beautiful church!