Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bais City Church

My Negros Oriental Tour: Bais City
The San Nicolas De Tolentino parish of Bais City. It’s a squat fat church if you see it from front and am not sure I have seen anything like it. Ah am not familiar with era architectural styles, but this one old church does not seem to belong to any one of the more commonly described Philippine churches on the web. I can almost declare it is ugly hehe. But who said there’s a standard on building churches? Remember the church in Oroquieta? Or the church in San Jose of this province? To each his own really! If anything, this church did command my attention, mainly because it looks ancient too.

If many churches I have seen and described lately have big big lawns or fields for frontages, the Bais church is different. It has nothing but a street right at its very door. There is even no sidewalk nor road gutter. It’s the very street that the front walls and entrance of the church hug! No need to fret though. The san Nicolas De Tolentino Church of Bais is not alone in this category. There is the San Jose De Placer of Iloilo city, the Bantayan Church, the Borongan Church, and some others. Hey, even that of Valencia NegOr that we covered a few blogs ago fits the case! I do have an observation that these city/town streets were not there in the original versions. As I look at them all, the streets are recent developments as they were previously pathways between the churches and parks or gardens which recent urbanizing civilizations have converted to real busy streets. In the case of Bais, their church faces the back of the city’s health center – and that is where I took most of my pictures from! Anyway…

Those two maroon-colored bell-towers are part of the church building. Their relatively low heights and shapes make this church look a bit more Moorish. Frankly, it looks to me like a morph between a catholic church, a city hall and a mosque. What could that ‘terrace’ be for on both flanks of the main entrance?! I think those are new additions and all the more makes the church look fat and squat hehe. By the way, am not sure if I saw bells hung on any of the two bell towers. Probably because it was a gloomy day so them bells hid under the shadows. But I did see one real ancient bell (picture) which I will describe later. Let’s go inside…

Oh the insides of this church is even simpler than that of Pamplona! The altar says everything foremost. It has not so many bling blings, gigantic anythings nor ornate whatevers. But mind you, since its fairly new (refurbished) those altar walls are made of marble. Wow! There is no scattering or troops of saints pedestalled anywhere at the altar. Just the crucified Jesus, and that’s it. So you don’t get confused who are you praying to hehe. I like that! Even the priest’s seat and those for the ‘sacristans’ are nothing fantastic. Very simple indeed that the whole setup is real calm and serene. Hey even the flowers and their arrangements are not OA. Back of my mind though, I know someone who would have been protesting at everything I said in this paragraph. Yeah, she would have disagreed and labeled that altar ugly, if she were still alive. My mom hehe, who was fond of those flowery carvings, fantastic drapes and so on and so on, sus hehe!

Almost all catholic churches have the stations of the cross lining their walls, right?! And this one in Bais is for me one of the most appealing. They are nothing but crosses but the portrayal of each station is via small wood carvings. Collectively, and viewed from the entrance to the church, they add to the unique simple serene appeal of this church. Okay, I admit, I have seen others that I would consider ‘better’ but just the same, I like the simplicity of those ‘stations’. They don’t grab my attention which should be at the altar.

Hmm, if I thought this church was clean and simple, by looking towards the altar… all priests who have been assigned in that parish would probably disagree hehe! Why? The ‘priests view’ is different! In this church, contrary to many churches we have seen in this country, the cluttered area is down near the main entrance! Yeah yeah, main entrance. But as a visitor or devotee, you look straight towards the other end, right? That is why I said its such a simple clean and uncluttered church. But what about the view of the priests? When they are up there at the altar, looking towards the entrance, their view is like in the picture. Aside from the two angels flanking both sides of the big door, there is a low ceiling care of the choir loft. And there are the confessionals also on both sides. Plus, that end of the church, yep near the entrance, is also a parking area for those ‘carros’ where the images of saints are installed during processions.

Choir loft, I said? Well, that is one of the other interesting things I saw in this church. That loft is of course just above main entrance. But look again, the terrace-like area actually extends way up front lining the whole side of the church. I asked an old lady if people can go up there and stay there while attending mass. She shook her head and told me she has not seen anything like it. That’s what I also thought of since they’re so narrow and would probably be awkward to contain people attending mass. Why the ‘grills’ or ‘fence’ up there? That’s what grabbed my attention. It does look nifty if anything, but yes, not so attention-grabbing. I just decided to assume that it is where angels would be perching during mass services hehe! Nice, di ba?!

Outside the church, there is a garden with many concrete seats arranged like a chapel and I really wondered why. There was no one to ask, so I just looked at it and assumed things. Probably it is an area for the devotees of ‘mama mary’ to converge and pray to her – since there is a mama mary altar at front. Also in the same garden is an olden bell enshrined like it was a monument (3rd picture above). Not able to look at it closely but I think that bell had already been torn on some parts (probably after being banged daily for so many years). It has inscriptions that say Don Hermenegildo Villanueva, El Dulce Nombre De Maria Ano 1860. And its more than 2,000 pounds. Whoa!

Okay, enough of Bais, and I head out next to Mabinay!

If you want to read the chronology of all stories on this tour, click the following:
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35
36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65


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