Text: Karl Aries Emerson F. Cabilao, FUAP
Image: N.S. Villaflor
CHURCH buildings are not merely iconic pieces of architecture. These buildings are concrete reflections of the Filipinos’ deep religiosity, tracing way back to the Spanish colonial period. The Spanish conquistadors spread the Roman Catholic faith when they placed the Philippines under its rule some centuries back and churches were integral architectural pieces when they planned out the first settlements in the country. Church buildings, usually designed in the Baroque style, were prevalent in many towns all over the country and were usually centerpieces in town planning. That’s why Spanish-era churches here in the country should be given value and utmost care when being preserved or restored.
Today, churches are being built with more contemporary looks but the design attention given to these buildings still hold a lot of religious relevance. Church buildings are not just meant to be designed as ordinary edifices. They are usually meant to be visible in the community, which is the same principle behind Gothic churches of Europe, the architectural representation of “heaven on earth” and that their presence in the town or city is indicative of God’s.
This Holy Week, churches are the most popular destinations for Catholics all over the country. The practice of the Visita Iglesia brings families and other groups to different churches in one day as a penitential pilgrimage. With so many different church buildings, old and new, in the metro and neighboring towns, here are some suggested destinations from some readers this Holy Week.
“During Holy Week, people should visit Basilica del Santo Niño Church. Aside from being one of the oldest churches in Cebu and a popular tourist destination, the Santo Niño basilica is also the cradle of faith of the Cebuanos. Cebuanos pray to the Santo Niño for His constant protection.” — Reuter Hanz Velano, marketing management student (USC)
“Everyone has a favorite church they go to for their Visita Iglesia. But if there is one church Cebuanos should not miss out on, it should be the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. Its historical significance cannot be overemphasized, but more importantly, because it symbolizes the very nature of the Cebuanos as devout Catholics since the time the earliest Cebuanos have been converted into Christianity.” — Alexis Divinagracia, surgeon
“For Visita Iglesia, I would like to visit the Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio de Maria Parish Church, a Baroque church in Boljoon, Cebu. The National Museum has listed this church as a national cultural treasure and is also considered for Unesco World heritage site accreditation in the Philippines. I am quite adventurous and I like going to new places, so I plan to kick off my visita iglesia at Caza’s 100 walls of worship, and then the oldest churches in Cebu like St. Francis de Asisis Church in Naga, Santa Catalina church in Carcar, and the San Miguel Arcanghel in Argao. It’s a plus I get to go to the beach after!” — Chester Scott Hinagdanan, architect
“People should be able to visit Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan Island since it has a rich history, not to mention the fine structural and architectural details made of lime stone, that have clearly withstood the test of time. It has also been a sanctuary for the local residents during times of war and calamities, hence proving a strong structural foundation. Furthermore, it gives an air of calmness that resonates throughout the church premises, which makes it a beautiful place to reflect and pray.” — Christopher Chad Go, architect
“First destination that comes to mind for Visita Iglesia this Holy Week is the Chapel of the Holy Relics which is located in Tabor Hills, Talamban, Cebu City. Not only is the chapel overwhelming with reliquaries, it has a magnificent view of the city’s skyline and is a quiet place away from the busy city. Going over from one relic to another was surreal; be it remains of a saint, a pope, and the Holy Cross of Christ. Being a resident nearby, I actually went jogging a few times to Tabor Hills and visited the chapel at the end of my route. I figured some may do the same during Holy Week.” — Kareen Jeniffer Quevedo, accountancy graduate