Friday, July 25, 2008

Roaming Ilocos: Paoay Church

So, let’s do the church? No am not repeating what you already know or what you may already see via a google search on descriptions, architectural styles and dates about this church. What you are about to uncover are my thoughts, things that came to my mind while visiting this church again! First, I thought this must have been one of the most photographed edifices in the Ilocos. Just a hunch, but when I txtd a web-savvy friend, he confirmed that, with an added bonus that Vigan’s church comes second! Wow. And look at what visitors would do for a good shot of this mesmerizing structure! I didn’t/don’t know him/them and sorry folks If I had to use this pic. I just find it too interesting! And yes, whoever you were/are, I salivated at the gadgets you carry. Then again, I think I don’t envy the part that you had to lug those cumbersome things hehe!

Curious as to how good a view/shot would it have been that the handsome dude had to click in that prone position… when they moved forward, I did an approximation of his shot hehe. No I did not hug the ground as he did, but I placed my camera low to about the level of that hunk when he took shots. Well, here is the pic I took. Not bad eh?! Now that’s what I call photography lesson 101.101 hehe. And I don’t feel ashamed redoing things that I think others did good. Am a good ‘follower’ and I can make just about anyone be my role model. Now am thinking… kelangan ko ba talaga dumapa to achieve good shots? Maybe so hehe! Hey that massive bell tower is a fine subject in itself, even without the church. I like the bricks and how they seem to have been patched here and there through time. At least… (other priests in many churches listen to this)… AT LEAST in this church marked a heritage site by the United Nations, they have not attempted to 100% cement the externals to make it look like a building made just last week! Well, I could see the “palitada” here and there esp at the church main structure. Still, I like how this bell tower exudes history by showing as much of what it was. You could really discern the painstaking labours that our forebears must have done to construct it.

Let’s go inside the church?

Ah well, am not sure I even took a pic of this church on my last visit, but now that I was meaning to savor how its insides looked and felt, I was very surprised at what I saw. It is so simple and fragile looking inside compared to the outside view of this church that looks so massive and sturdy! Maybe this is why the church is declared a heritage site? Ah, the “palitada” has after all prevailed, at least on the insides of this church. Like most everywhere, you won’t see a hint of those blocks of rocks or stones inside the church. And I am sure this is a more recent “improvement”. The walls, everywhere inside, have that smooth cement finish or whatever material they might have used. Then painted, of course!

The floors all over are of rust-colored ceramic tiles while the aisles sport a flowery design. Ahm, well, its good enough, I think, if only to distract me from the literal bareness of anything overhead. What’s unique up there, anyway? …There is no ceiling! There are the criss-crossing wooden trusses and beams and you see the tin roof. Yes the corrugated tin roof! I am confused now if this church roof design is just so or they really have no funds to put in a ceiling. Why? Because it has been many years now, and that ‘ceiling’ is still the way it is! I am more inclined to think it is a design element though. Of a frugal parish, that is. This is Ilocos in the first place, remember? But not to be outdone by other edifices hehe, this church too have chandeliers and even “drop-lights”. And yes, interestingly, they drop from high up those wooden beams. O laban ka?!

The altar is admirably simple. Yes, I like it without so many colors and glitters and ornate ek ek that people at prayer gets entertained therefore distracted from otherwise their solemn desire to communicate with The Creator. Oh, this altar btw, does have some kind of ceiling. I mean the dome that hovers above it. And its painted sky-blue! That matches with the color tone in the enclosure where the crucified Jesus is - also in sky-blue and illuminated by hidden flood lights. Nice set-up! Well, I wish they'd push and pull that white board away when no service is in progress. I know how it is used - as a projection screen for prayers, songs, responsorial psalms, etc. But it should disappear when there's no mass, cuz its strikingly ugle hehe!

Interesting too is how they have been able to preserve that elevated terrace-like podium where priests in the past would go to preach or perform their ‘homily’. I think its called “pulpit”. Yep, still in place. And I even went up to it just to try how it feels standing up there. Whooowow, you’ll feel like a mayor standing up there hehehe! Not my cup of tea! there are inscriptions in that ornate grill design, though hard for my eyes and my lowly brain to recognize. I think one says "PAOAY", another is a date am not sure if its "1890" and yet another one is some kind of a name or royal office that says "P.B. REAL" or something like that. Those are at least historical marks inside the church worth thinking about for the visitors.

Ah, due to the massively thick walls as clearly seen on the outside, the church is relatively dark, even if the big windows and doors are all open. So it feels a bit eerie walking the insides of this church when there are no other people around. Duuu!! And one last observation… I think this is where I saw the tiniest of confessionals ever. It’s an open wooden structure where there is just a kneeling pad on both sides for people who will do their confessions. But the priests seat seem too wide with very thin armrest. I silently laughed that maybe it was made so with the common notion that most priests are fatty wide, especially when seated!

We better stop this and quickly move out of the church, lest I start saying anything more ‘incriminating’!

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