Balaanong Bahandi is your ultimate guide to the Archidocese’s architectural heritage, showcasing all the churches in Cebu from the earliest missions to contemporary parishes, including all of the outstanding artistry they contain, from bas reliefs expressed in coral stone to carved images in ivory and wood, ceiling paintings by the famed Canuto Avila and Raymundo Francia, handwritten pages in canonical books, bronze bells and many other tangible manifestations of over 400 years of Christianity in Cebu.
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Hot off the press, the book Balaanong Bahandi: Sacred Treasures of the Archdiocese of Cebu is a beautiful tome that celebrates the religious architecture, treasures, cultural heritage and faith of the Cebuanos on the occassion of the diamond jubilee of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
The book is an update to the 1886 publication Breve Reseña de lo que fue y de lo que es la Diocesis de Cebu en las Islas Filipinas (A Brief Account of What is and What was the Diocese of Cebu in the Philippine Islands) by Felipe Redondo, secretary to the Bishop Benito Romero de Madridejos. Redondo’s work is the most important source for those studying the history of the Diocese of Cebu during the Spanish Colonial period.
The front cover of the book shows the Metropolitan Cathedral of Cebu framed with details of an inuod, embroidered vestment from the Boljoon Parish museum. At the back is the beautiful retablo mayor of Boljoon Church. Inside, is an overview tracing its history from the start of Christianity of Cebu to its present status as an Archiocese. After a feature on the cathedral, the museum and the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, the parish pages follows alphabetically.
Each parish church is treated in this manner: the opening page, right, shows the present form of the edifice. At the opposite page, first column, is its brief history. At the right column, an archival image is included that reminds the reader how it looked before (like what was done in my other book, Philippine Church Façades). Below it is the translated text from the Breve Reseña.
Succeeding pages, especially for heritage churches, showcases the interior, treasures as well as architectural details of the edifice. Where applicable, images of the kumbento, old perimeter walls, mortuary chapels as well as fortifications are also included.
Where there are parish museums, interiors as well as some antique items are also included. Pages devoted to each church can be a minimum of 2 to as much as 14 for those edifices rich in artifacts and interesting architectural details like Bantayan and Argao.
One of the most striking details included in the book are the very colorful and interesting ceiling paintings of Dalaguete which were painted by Canuto Avila and his children, that I haven’t paid much attention to before.
One thing I like about this book is that it not only focuses on the beautiful but calls the reader’s attention to the need to preserve these heritage structures. An example is Argao wherein the writer, Ms. Loy Alix lamented the desecrations done by a past parish priest without regard to its rich cultural standing.
It’s very important to protect heritage structures from vandalism. These days high resolution security cameras can help you keep an eye on your valuable assets and provide constant monitoring of your premises.
After featuring the different parishes as included in the Breve Reseña, daughter parishes, those erected after the publication of Redondo’s work and, especially, after the creation of the Archdiocese in 1934, follows with mainly thumbnail images, all 86, that are found scattered across Cebu and nearby islands. A glossary, bibiliography and index pages follows.
Balaanong Bahandi, a 9in x12in coffetable book was originally conceptualized with 260 pages but due to the number of beautiful images and important text, is now a publication with 308 pages. This is jointly published by the Cathedral Museum of Cebu and the University of San Carlos Press. The editorial team is headed by Jobers Bersales with an all Cebuano team of writers and photographers including yours truly. Layout and design by Lorens Gibb Lapinig, my co-photographer, and printed by Mack Mayer Printers in Cebu.
For its price of just P2,500, its a steal for quality of workmanship, well researched text and beautiful images.
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