Sunday, May 6, 2012

Calbayog’s Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral

Done with the City Hall, the Apology Monument and the Handumanan or Museo De Calbayog, the natural next place to see for me was this old cathedral. It is commonly referred to by locals as the Calbayog Cathedral or just cathedral, though its formal, complete name is such a long one as the title above. This is just across the road from the museum, so after that heavy but quick drizzle, I took the few steps towards it.

Mighty detailed exterior embellishments. Like that furnace-like or chimney-like thing above the facade and roof. I wondered and I still wodner, could it have been a steeple or bell tower of some kind in its original state? Or could it have been just made as a later addition through the years and under various parish priests? Add to that those attic-like protrusions from the roof! Do you see them in the picture? I also wondered what those were/are for, and today I still wonder. There must have been a reason for those things to have been installed up there, whether for aesthetics or any other purpose.

The interestingly funny thing is, none of these can be seen or even discerned from inside the church – save of course for that very usual but lovely dome!

Oh that dome! I learned from many of my travels that in Catholic Churches it is usually installed on churches shaped the cruciform way. The thing is supposed to give illumination to the altar or the front area of the church interiors, using ambient light or the sun’s rays. See, am learning!

There are 6 male saints standing tall up at pedestals on either side of each of the three principal entrances (main, and the two ends of the transepts). Do you know who those are? Sorry, I dont. But it must be interesting to know who they are and why, right?! Soon I will. Just you wait!

Still about the exterior appearance of this mighty-looking cathedral, I like that image of the Virgin Mary up above the facade. She is seated, enthroned, if I may call it that. I seldom see this kind of portrayal of the Blessed Virgin. There is even a clock above her, though I am 1000% sure it is not working hehe. I wonder when such externally displayed clocks started appearing on Philippine buildings or at least churches. Probably the time the Big Ben in London was erected? I probably have a peeve on big externally displayed time-pieces that do not work! I most of the time notice them immediately, I don't know why hehe!

Now below Mama Mary but still above the main entrance is like a big wide terrace that is actually the roof or top of the entrance foyer. That area is just behind the choir loft, if your point of view is inside the church. Spacious area and I must say very well maintained as it even has a fairly new ’wall’ topped with lamp posts, planters or flower boxes. I wonder though, who uses this space of the cathedral. Yeah, many churches do also have something like this, but I have the same question, who uses them and what for? Come to think of it, that might just be a fine place for wedding receptions, though I am almost sure, not a few priests or religious groups will call it desecration hehe. A basta, maganda yung lugar na yun!

We are still outside of the church, and there is the bell tower, belfry or whatever else it is properly called. This thing is tall and massive. It however looks skinny due to the many and big windows that reveals the ugly hollowness of bell towers with nothing on the inside except olden ladders or stairs. This one becomes a stark contrast to the church itself that looks squat and solid flat! I even start to think that this bell tower is not an original structure that came with the church (built in the 1850s), or if so, it has obviously been subjected to a lot of art wannabes that it now looks like a separate structure on its own hehe. Maybe those in charge of sprucing this thing up have not heard yet about this thing called heritage conservation.

Lets go inside, shall we?

Its not big! I mean looking at this church from the outside you'd think it is quite a big and spacious one, right? But when you enter, its just two columns of pews and it really looks narrow from main entrance all the way to the altar which, at least, does look wider. It probably is because of the very thick walls? Yeah, all olden churches were built that way by the Spanish friars to ensure they withstood strong winds and even earthquakes. And this one cathedral is proof of that - been standing like so for more than a century I hear, save for a few refurbishments time and again.

Beauty parlor! Here I go again on that style and color of floor tiles hehe. Yes, Inday! The floor sports that black and white checkerboard design. You can bring your pawns, queens, kings, bishops, rooks and horses. You can play chess on the floor! Or you can bring your ’tansan’ and play ’dama’ too! As I said in previous posts, its probably just me, but this kind of floor aesthetics so reminds me of beauty parlors since many of them have that kind of floor. You can actually say that most old-American ’diners’ and ’pubs’ do have these kinds of floors, and I agree. But how many of them are still alive in this country anyway? Fact is I can only remember Macy’s over at Laoag’s Tiffany Hotel. So beauty parlor it is!

Anyway, in this church, the center aisle ’checkerboard’ has been slanted so they look like diamonds instead of squares, AND all the more dizzying due to so many intersecting lines. Not serene to my eyes at all!

The altar. Oh yes, the altar! Even from afar, I could see that there are even more lines to get dizzy with. But ironically, this one’s became a bit more appealing to my eyes – I think! Look at that picture… there is already a retablo and the backdrop all over the olace are little argyle-looking designs with carved JHS inscriptions. Come to think of it, it looks wonderful!. And I know that my pictures are not that crisp. But i saw some friends’ photos on some big ceremony in this cathedral, and those walls just looked splendid! I think! So I take exception here, okay? Desite the floor tiles, the altar is wonderfully unique amongst churches I have seen!

Anyway again, physical appearances becomes secondary, as this is a house of worship. I learned a bit more by txtng friends who know more about this church, while I roamed around. One of those is that this is the seat of the most important diocese in the 3rd largest island of the country.


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