Monday, September 7, 2009

Discoveries at the Ozamiz City Cathedral

Due to its proximity to the hotel, front staff told me to start roaming there. That’s the ‘Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral’ more easily referred to as Ozamiz Cathedral. Hotel staff told me it was just at the left end of the street fronting the hotel but a bit far so they advised that I ride a trike going there. When I went out to the street and looked left, I saw the end of it that intersects with a highway. I thought the whole distance would not even be longer than SM Megamall’s ‘Building A’ haha! I looked at front desk, they were still smiling, then I started to walk. Looking back at the hotel from front of BPI, I saw the hotel guard raising his thumb up at me, so I walked on!

Its new!
Oh so that is the cathedral, I mused. It has a different feel even by just looking at it from across the highway. It feels like one of the new buildings in a commercial district! Because of the word “cathedral” I was thinking I would see something like Cebu’s Sto Nino or anything like that. I also expected a big front yard or garden. This one is modern from material to paint to need for space. Well, not really that “new”, I sensed that the structure must have been circa the 60s or thereabouts but spruced up from time to time. Hmm, those big, twice than life-size statues of San Agustin and San Ignacio by the entrance are really huge pieces of art. They’re like guarding the cathedral entrance while a tiny image of Sto Nino perches above the entrance foyer. Then Mama Mary, slightly bigger than Sto Nino is over near the top of the church’s arcing façade.

I ogled at this façade for a while a bit unhappy that it did not quite match the rest of the church structure. Ah, and then I discovered that the concrete arc that is now the face of the cathedral has just been super-imposed on the original church frontage. I actually can’t decide if it looks good or otherwise. I am sure of something though, it never looks ancient… and probably, it does not want to be! Maybe it wants to attract more kids, cuz with a quick glance, the colors would remind them of their favourite fastfood!

Inside, there is an airy and bright feel in this wide church. Yeah wide or widened. The decorative hollow-blocks on the walls tell me that the ‘original’ of this building must have come from somewhere in the American era to the 1970s hehe. When have we started seeing those “decorative hollow-blocks” anyway? You know, those that have floral or geometric designs so that wind, air or light can pass-through?! The walls of this church is awash with those. Thus, the notably bright and cool interiors. Up near the ceiling, I was not sure if those are still hollow-blocks, wood or iron, but they emulate the design of the “decorative hollow-blocks” down at the walls. There are red and blue transparent materials up there making it look like stained glass. Not sure if the reds and the blues are glass or plastic but the total effect is obviously a product of cash-strapped construction. Makes the church look way different in its own class!

The confessional is weirdly special. Why? Because I can’t seem to make out how the activity would be done. There is a door with dark glass and there’s a red incandescent bulb atop it. Parang laboratory hehe! Then to the right in the same wall the door is fitted, I see a small rectangular window covered with rattan mesh. Nothing else. How do you do confessions in that set-up? The priest goes inside that glassed door? Then you stand by that rattan mesh? Because if you knelt, how tall ever you are, not even your forehead would reach the mesh – where the priest is probably seated inside. What about the red light? Probably to indicate that there’s a priest inside ready to take your confessions.

Ah there was no one in the area who could tell me. So I continued to imagine, while I kept walking to-and-fro near the door with glass and red bulb! OMG, if any person was observing me, I would have looked like a thief trying to muster how I could steal the whole confessional hehehe! Another train of thought… probably, he who would go to confession would enter that glass door. Then the red light is turned on to indicate somebody is inside and a confession is in progress. But if so, what’s with the rattan-covered window? Ah, probably just for the priest to see how long is the queue of folks going to do confessions, or probably to let his fart out hahaha!

My badness! I confess, this whole contraption really twisted my twisted brain!

Oh there was some kind of a meeting amongst the faithful being presided by a man who looked to me like a lay member of the church. I saw nuns were part of the meeting and one of them noticed me, stood up and walked towards me. I swear, at that instant, I was like a child quickly deciding if I should run away to avoid some scolding or stay put. The more confident adult in me stood still, ready to face what the nun might have to say. I was anticipating I’d be shooed, but I waited for her so I would hear the reason.

Gosh! When she came at speaking distance, she was all smiles and greeted me “good afternoon”. Then she told me that if I wanted to take photos of the altar, I could just go and walk towards it saying “don’t mind the people up front, we’re just having a lay leaders’ meeting”. Whew! I actually thought I would be scolded for having seemed to be planning to cart their confessional away! Oh my brain! But I told the kind sister, I was happy with my pictures of the altar from afar. LIE, LIAR hehe, and to think I was inside a church!!! But what can I do, I was so ashamed to storm right through all of them people having a meeting?!

Ah since the dear sister was already there, I asked a few questions that she gladly answered. And yes, true to my “suspicions” this was/is no ancient cathedral. It was erected American-style by the American Jesuits. See?! And that Ozamiz never really had a church during the Spanish era and that priests from Iligan would only visit them from time-to-time. See? And as we conversed, (pointing upwards) she said “we are very proud to have the only pipe-organ in Mindanao and it is the second biggest in the country. But sadly we cannot allow visitors up there now as the entrance is locked”. O… M... G…!!! So I walked a bit to the center of the church aisle for a clearer view. Yes OMG! And I never even heard about it! See?

After marveling at the pipe organ, I thanked the sister and told her, I would be gone to roam more of the city. Oh ha?! She said “God bless you”! Oh ha?!

During the night, I cruised the web for more of this church and pipe-organ. Wow!!! Yeah, those infos are still lingering along the www superhighway so I don’t have to tell you. But wow! What a discovery for me! Wow talaga!

See?! There were great fantabulous things to discover in Ozamiz, after all! And I was just starting!


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