Is this how the previous Carcar Church looked?

A relief at the portal's top at the sacristy. This is said to be how the previous church looked before the current one. It is interesting to note the style of the belfry's dome carried on to the present structure

A relief at the portal's top at the sacristy. This is said to be how the previous church looked before the current one. It is interesting to note the style of the belfry's dome carried on to the present structure

The door that opens to the sacristy. Note the relief of a church at it's lunette.

The door that opens to the sacristy. Note the relief of a church at it's lunette.

The sacristy of Carcar Church has a simple wooden two-door portal that opens outside. Simply decorated, what makes this interesting, however, is the relief of a church at it’s lunette that is so unlike the present structure. Lorens Gibb told me that this might be how the edifice prior to the present one looked like. If this is true, then we now have visual proof of the previous church.

The photos used in this series were taken between 2005 and 2008 as the author visits this church from time to time. Special thanx to Lorens Gibb Lapinid for the assistance in 2008. Philippine churches, especially prior to the middle of the 19th century, were mostly built under the direction of the parish priest who often has no background in construction. Thus we have edifices that are often at the mercy of the elements. What happened to the previous structure in Carcar might have suffered the same fate as natural calamities might have caused it’s deterioration or eventual destruction. However, this might be an oversimplification as the town was one of the richest and thus, might be able to afford a more strongly built church. But age might also be a factor.

1860 (or 1859 as written inside some parts of the church), the start of construction of the present church already saw the decline of muslim slave raiding in Luzon, the Visayas and northern Mindanao. In Cebu, the decisive victory of Oslobanons in 1813 already hindered these raiders in venturing into the area. Prior to that, however, these slavers were just a sad part of daily life. Thus, we have churches built that function not only to cater to the spiritual needs of the people but fortifications to keep watch of invaders as well as a stronghold where the populace run to whenever another raid happens in the town.

The church relief on the door is built more like a fortified edifice. It’s octagonal belltower is massive and tall. At four tiers, it doubles as a watchtower. Interestingly, the style of the dome has been carried out into the present structure. It’s single nave has windows that are small and high strung where defenders can take positions and take on surrounding enemies. The roof is tejado, or tiled. It might be typical but it cannot be burned compared with cogon roofing.

The façade is simple. Decorative columns run from base to top of second level with the triangular pediment found at the third. It’s center has a niche for the patron. The minimal baroque embellishments decorate the pediment and the top of the main portal. Note that just like the belfry’s dome, this portal decoration has been carried out into the present.

Either structures are interesting and beautiful.

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2 Comments

  1. Interesting about that carved church on the sacristy door. In the Dauis church in Bohol (actually, Panglao island just off Tagbilaran), the upper floor of the convento features four previous churches on the four diagonal ceiling panels. I was told that they represent the four previous parish churches of Dauis, some of which burned or were destroyed or expanded. Perhaps this is a similar practice. Were there any other carvings on any other door?

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