Monday, October 25, 2010

Siquijor Churches

Joam, our hired tricycle driver and tour guide, took us first to Siquijor's San Francisco de Asis church and bell tower, which is just walking distance from Siquijor port. In front of the church is a triangular rotunda with signage of “Welcome to Siquijor”.

While the parish was already established last February 1783, the simple coralstone church was built between 1795-1831, thru the supervision of Secular priests, hence the different design from the earlier churches established by Augustinian and Dominican priests.

The view of the separate bell tower with the grotto from the church. It also serves as a watchtower to check any incoming Moro pirates on its early years.

Another view of the belfry from below with students passing it

Lazi is a hilly town with large acacia trees on the road that separates the church and the convent. While waiting for Joam to borrow the keys of the locked Lazi church, I took shots of its belfry and facade with a few intricate carvings of the external church walls made of coral stones. The church was built in 1884, while the belfry was finished a year after.

Upon entering the San Isidro Labrador church, I was quite surprised by its size, considering the small size of the town’s population. Most impressive is its elevated wooden floor, mostly in good condition after 126 years. It was the first time I saw such kind of floor in a century-old church. 

The wooden floor extends on the complete floor area of the church up to the altar, except for a small portion near the altar with equally old washed out and smooth white concrete.

There are 2 elevated pulpits on each side near the altar, where the priest used to deliver his sermon. Unfortunately, the braces that hold the elevated pulpits are weak now, so usage of those pulpits are not allowed. Few years ago, one of the elevated pulpits collapsed as a group of 6 Silliman students climbed into it. The church’s ceiling has some holes created by the birds, hence they now put nets to fully cover the church’s wooden doors, to keep the birds from entering the church.

The baptismal area on the left side of the church near the main entrance has an old portrait of Jesus Christ being baptized by St. John. This room has a more intricate style of wooden floor, but it shows more signs of deterioration, probably due to years of non-usage. According to Joam, the church was built in semi-forced labor, as the craftsmen fear the punishments from the Spanish priests if they do not cooperate.

Afterwards, we crossed the street to see the Lazi convent, built between 1887-1891. With floor size of 38 m x 42 m, it was considered as one of the biggest convent in the country and in Asia during its time. 

The good craftmanship is evident on the convent’s stone walls and wooden ballusters which have survived the test of time. The same type of wood found in the church is used at the convent. On some exposed parts of the convent’s partition walls, you will see the bamboo material used to strengthen the wall’s old concrete plaster.

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