Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Daraga Church in Daraga, Albay

After dropping our luggage to the hotel, we proceeded to the nearby Daraga Church, which is situated on a hill with a view of the majestic Mayon Volcano. Unfortunately, it was still cloudy that morning of our arrival, so Mayon's peak is barely visible on the photo below.

The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Porteria (Our Lady of the Gate) in Daraga was built in 1773. It served as temporary shelter of Cagsawa residents when their church was buried by volcanic debris during the volcano's deadly eruption last 1814. 

The church was used as a headquarters by Japanese forces during World War II, due to its strategic location and cool temperature. It was partially damaged during the war, and repairs were done between 1971-1973.

This old church shows the resourcefulness and craftmanship of the Albay people. Volcanic materials were used in constructing this nice Baroque-style church. Its interesting to note that its solomonic columns, undulating cornices, and bas-reliefs of saints shares very similar style with its more famous cousin, the baroque church of Miag-ao, Iloilo here

Too bad that their current church priest had ordered the painting of the church's exterior walls with white color. It had lost some of its charm, and that bold move upsets both the tourists and local people as well.

I hope that the old belfry would be spared from the painting whim of their priest. Otherwise, the sentimental beauty of the structure and the carvings below would be lost as well.

The church's interiors have obviously undergone renovations.

On the left side of the church, guests will find almost life-size figures of various saints.

The right side of the church provides breathtaking views of the volcano, Lingnon Hill, and parts of Daraga and Legazpi areas.

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  1. Actually the church wasn't painted, instead it was coated with lime which is the colonial process of finishing masonry structures. This is known as palitada. In the Spanish period, most churches were coated with lime thus protecting the structure from the elements. This would then be painted with Baroque colors which are very primary, like reds, greens, etc. We are just used to the weathered look of the structure, but in fact the palitada will protect the stone from further weathering.

  2. It still looks as ordinary paint to me. They should have used eggwhite solution to re-bind the stones, just like what they did before in constructing the century-old churches. Its more authentic and the color would be more natural.

    Anyway, thanks for the clarification and visiting the blog.

  3. Good day! I am Via Magtoto of Island Weddings Magazine. We are currently working on an article about some of the historical churches in Bicol. One of the churches to be featured is the CHURCH OF NUESTRA SEÑORA DE LA PORTERIA (Our Lady of the Gate), in DARAGA, ALBAY. We would like to ask for your permission to use some of your photos for our magazine. The photo will be credited to you.

    Thank you very much and we hope to hear from you!

  4. Hi, Via. Sure, you can use the photos from this blog post. I can even send you all my raw photos of the church, if you will donate any amount on this blog. Thanks.

  5. "They should have used eggwhite solution to re-bind the stones, just like what they did before in constructing the century-old churches." -- This would make sense if they were assembling the church from scratch, ......but would actually be a particularly foolish thing to suggest for a structure that is still standing and with every block still in place. (What, should they have disassembled the church like Lego, just to use the eggwhite mixture? There is nothing to rebind if the stones are still together. And you can make a simple Google image search to see that the church is still basically intact from the time of the Spanish until now.)

    The anonymous comment on lime palitada is spot on. It just looks like white paint, but it is indeed lime. And no, it was not a whim by the "current church priest", as you guessed (out of thin air.) The lime washing of the Daraga Church is a government project done by the National Museum, the National COmmission on Culture and Arts, and the National Historical Commission on the Philippines.