Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sto. Rosario Church of Camiguin

One of the unique churches I've seen is the Sto. Rosario Church in the town of Sagay, province of Camiguin. The church's exterior is very simple, while its adjoining bell tower is partly obscured by trees. It lacks the grandness of a cathedral, no eye-catching carvery on its facade, nor a weathered-look beauty that is common to most century-old churches.

But as what an old adage says, "Don't judge a book by its cover". This ordinary-looking church has more to offer inside. The original church was built in 1882 using coral stones, but the years have taken its toll, making renovations inevitable to strengthen its structure. Utilizing steel bars and modern building techniques, it is somehow surprising that the new church designers have not really forgotten their roots, by using indigenous materials.

As we entered the church with high yet basic and modern ceiling, I immediately noticed the driftwood chandeliers, the sawali (woven bamboo skin) walls, the ornamental plants at the entrance, bamboo columns, and other local materials. We arrived at the church before 2:00 pm, yet the temperature inside is comfortable, saving electrical power as there is no need for those ceiling fans to be turned on.

The altar wall has multi-colored adobe stones, not the antique wooden retablos usually found in old churches. The church also use cross cuts of local wood and coconut materials, which remind me of "bahay kubo" or nipa hut. This shows not only the creativity of the church's designers, but also their patriotism, as well as sensitivity to the local culture.

If there is "Green" or ISO 14001 certification on modern buildings, the Sto. Rosario church deserves to be certified as a "Green" church as well. Many of the materials they used in constructing and designing the church are made from indigenous and sustainable materials, less "imported" components, and more local manpower during the installation. Good ventilation and allowing natural daylight inside makes it less power-hungry, which is another plus for the environment.

It will be nice if architects and designers of soon-to-build churches will follow the Sto. Rosario church's example.

P.S. Outside the church is a mango tree with fruits that are much bigger than the regular carabao mango variety. The color and shape has similarity with Thai mangoes. Or is it a local species of mango that vied for Guinness Book of Records, as reported on local news before?

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