Last January 2010, I was invited by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau to join a media tour of travel writers and bloggers to experience North Luzon. Part of the tour included a visit to 9 churches, a visita iglesia. Check Langyaw.com for travel related posts during this trip.
Tuguegarao Cathedral is imposing in its size, awe inspiring with it’s brick facade and interesting with its many brick bas relief symbols of the Dominican Order. There are roosters, papal tiaras, dogs, the sun and the moon and the marian symbols. In terms of architecture, it is the prime example of the Cagayan style of facade which can be seen in Dupax del Sur, Bambang and Bayombong in Nueva Vizcaya as well as a variation in Tumauini and San Pablo in Isabela.
The Our Lady of Piat Shrine is one of the top pilgrimage areas in Cagayan province and in the country with many devotees venerating the image. It’s not a colonial era church. When this shrine became popular and grew, the old edifice located near it was eventually abandoned and is now in ruin. Notable church antique artifacts including an 18th century bell can be found at the shrine’s museum.
The church of Iguig is unassuming with its already renovated facade that one would hesitate to venture inside and just move on. However, at the back, supporting the rear wall, is an architectural detail that is not so commonly used in other Spanish colonial era churches in the country: flying buttresses. Only a handful of religious edifices sport this like Tumauini in Isabela. Found mostly used in Gothic architecture, its kind of surprising to be used here.
Alcala Church is said to be the widest in Cagayan province with its three aisles. Squat and minimally embellished except for decorative columns and blind windows as niches, the style of the facade is reminiscent to the one in Lal-lo. The interior has been greatly renovated with nary a trace of the original.
Camalaniugan Church is famous for one thing: the oldest bell in the Far East is located here. This bell, cast in 1595 is inscribed the Sta. Maria with an almost tubular form unlike those cast in the 18th and 19th centuries. The current structure is new as the one prior to this was burned a few years ago. Behind the current building is the ruins of a much older church which was abandoned when the mighty Cagayan River flooded and eroded portions of the structure. About a hundred meters is a massive and old horno or oven, used to bake the bricks used in constructing many of the brick churches in North Cagayan during the Spanish colonial period.
Lal-lo Church used to be the seat of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia in the 18th century but was moved to Vigan in Ilocos Sur when the Cagayan River flooded and eroded portions of its plaza fronting the church. This and the edifice in Alcala have the same style of facade. The interior has been renovated.
I’ve been looking forward to see the church of Pamplona but was quite disappointed. It’s facade has already been renovated, with the origina covered with new bricks. However, as one goes to the side, the nave is still original and portions of the rubble stone used as filling can still be seen.
The Parish church of St. Augustine in Paoay, Ilocos Norte is one of four structures inscribed as Baroque Churches of the Philippines under the UNESCO World Heritage List. It’s architecture is no like any other in the Philippines with it’s unique facade and massive buttresses that line the nave’s exterior. It’s a good example of earthquake baroque and, typical of Ilocos churches, the belfry is a few meters from the main structure. Some critics say that it’s architecture is a blending of the oriental and occidental, the east and the west.
The church in Masinloc is one of the few remaining Spanish colonial era churches in Zambales, majority of which were built by the Augustinian Recollects as they were assigned this region right after they arrived in the country in 1606. made from coral stone, it’s a surprise for me as churches made from this material is not so common in Luzon. Several earthquake damaged this edifice, the latest of which struck in 1999 that resulted in a crack at the facade. It has been repaired a few years ago.