about ECCLESIOPHILIA

While I am not sure if such a word already exists, the term refers to my fondness to the majestic architecture of some of the Philippine religious structures-- a loanword from the Greek root "ecclesio-" meaning "church" and "-philia" meaning "love." However, the word "ecclesiophobia" was officially introduced by the medical world and means otherwise.
I mostly fancy the façades of various antebellum Roman Catholic churches scattered across the country for their splendid European influences.

24 October 2009

Sta. Ana Church (Nuestra Señora de los Samparados Church)

I consider myself lucky to have an officemate (who happens to live near the church) tour me around this venerable, well-preserved gem in the middle of the busy neighborhood of Sta. Ana in Manila. And even luckier, I had the chance to take some photos of the altar mayor, as her dad was there and very kind enough to ask permission from the administrators for us. FYI, I don't usually take photos of the churchs' interiors since it takes the long process of interviews and explanations.

It was a very early Saturday morning at around 5:00 AM when we arrived in the area, and at first glance I was not really impressed. Not until a soft hint of the rising sun showed a preview of this church's wonderful and venerable exterior.
Shot from the left side of the church

It is considered to be the first Franciscan mission church established outside the walled, then-capital city of Intramuros in 1578, first made of bamboo and nipa. In 1720, the first cornerstone of the stone church was laid, and it is now what it appears today.

Cams (the name of my officemate) was also very accommodating when she showed me around although it was really eerie walking inside the rooms during the dawn, knowing that the church grounds was a traditional burial place for the affluent in the colonial times.

the altar mayor

I was stunned with the reverent glow of the altar with the images of the saints, all lined up with The Lady of the Abandoned in the middle.

Although I am aware that it would be more worthwhile to see the famed Camarin de la Virgen (Dressing Room of the Virgin) somewhere around (most probably the second floor), I didn't have the chance to see it because the second floor of the sacristies was closed at that time. The Camarin was also said to house the oldest paintings in the Philippines, and are found on the room's ceilings depicting the life of Jesus and Mary. I will definitely re-visit the place for this soon.

The statue of St. Joachim adorning one of the niches on the church's façade. He is the husband of St. Anne, the mother of Mary

The awesome belfry
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21 October 2009

San Felipe Neri Church

Mandaluyong was once named San Felipe Neri by the Spaniards, in honor of the patron saint of Rome. In 1863, led by the congregation of Dulcisimo Nombre de Jesus (Spanish for "Jesus' Sweetest Name"), the town founded its own church, convent and school along what is now called Boni Avenue.

The San Felipe Neri has a rather vague architecture-- I am not quite sure if it is a combination of Roccoco and Gothic, or a completely different style that I still haven't encountered in the past. When I saw the building the first time, I actually thought that it is the type that a little child will draw when he is instructed to draw a church.


The Parish of San Felipe Neri played a significant role as a relay station for propagating the Katipunan during the 1896-1898 Revolution. It was in Barangay Hagdang Bato on August 28, 1896 where Andres Bonifacion issued a proclamation setting Saturday, August 29, 1896 as the date of the attack on Manila. It was also in this town that the revolutionary paper, “La Republika”, was established on September 15, 1896.
-the City of Mandaluyong website

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Pasig Cathedral (The Immaculate Conception Cathedral)

This aged edifice in the middle of the town proper is the official landmark of the city of Pasig. The Pasig Cathedral was just recently elevated into the cathedral status in 2003, but it has existed as a parish church since 1575. I've read from a brass plate inscription on the façade that the first priest who held the first Mass here is a companion priest of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, if my memory serves me right.

I should say that this is the most important church in my life as a Catholic child: my school is just a few walks away from here, and we regularly went here every first Friday of the month to attend the Mass. Actually, our school's name is derived from this church-- La Immaculada Concepcion School.

Across the Romanesque cathedral is the Plaza Rizal, where the Pasig Museum is also located.
A shot of the cathedral from the Plaza Rizal. Note that there is a puerta before the church, so I am curious if the church was protected by a wall in the Spanish times.Details of the cathedral's belfry/clock tower, with the clock's face ornamented with gold. I am almost sure that this is not the original clock, because as far as I can recall, the former clock is silver and is not working when I was still attending high school.


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20 October 2009

The Chapel of St. Pancratius (Paco Park and Cemetery)

The Paco Park and the little chapel within its walls has become infamous to most of us when we were just little kids-- it was a favorite horror story topic in Magandang Gabi Bayan during the Halloween season, and ever since then I always imagined the place to be macabre.

Not until I personally visited the place for one of our Rizal projects.
The Chapel of St. Pancratius is a small, circular chapel built in Romanesque architecture. Inside is a simple chapel lined with a few pews (pardon the pun) and an image of St. Pancratius(?) above the altar. St. Pancratius, if you haven't heard of him, is also known as St. Pancras, an early Christian martyr beheaded when he was just 14 in the time of the Roman emperor Diocletian. He is the patron saint of children, and often invoked against false witnesses and headaches.
The window on the left side of the church

Inside the chapel. It was closed when we visited, but I managed to slip my camera lens through the grills.

Built in the 1700's to serve as the Spanish elites' cemetery, the Paco Park is where the victims of the 1882 cholera epidemic in Manila were buried. Immediately after his execution in 1896, it became Dr. Jose Rizal's initial burial ground. It is also interesting to note that it was the place where the GomBurZa was interred after their death in 1872, before their remains, along with Rizal's, were transferred to Luneta where they were executed.
The entrance to the park; I love the Romanesque architecture. The Latin phrase etched on the portal's tympanum says "beati mortui qui in domino moriuntur," which translates to "blessed are the dead who died in the Lord." It is a common phrase found in Catholic cemeteries, derived from the Bible.

The alley beside the chapel; the ossuario gate in the middle

The gate to the ossuario and the infants' graves
Contrary to what I previously thought, Paco Park is beautiful and serene, an ideal place where you can take a relaxing break from the stress of the city. Never mind that the niches on the walls that surrounded the park were once used as graves. By the way, the place is currently used as a venue for weddings and concerts.

It sure looks fun in the broad daylight, does it? I wonder how it feels like being trapped inside the park at night. ;)
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19 October 2009

Our Lady of The Abandoned Parish (Paroquia de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados)

I always pass by this church when I'm homebound to Pasig from Marikina, and just learned that it is actually older than I first thought. Despite the modernistic feel (or maybe just because some parts were newly painted), the establishment was founded by the Augustinian friars in the 1700's.

Originally, a chapel was built near the banks of the Marikina River (which is now known as Barangay Jesus dela Peña), but since it was experiencing seasonal flooding during the rainy season, the then Governor-General ordered it to be destroyed and abandoned, then transferred to a safer place. Crossing the river, they found the highest ground in the area on that time, and that is where the church stands in the present.

The parish church is home to the Virgin of the Abandoned Ones, the patroness of Marikina and Sta. Ana, Manila.
The original batingaw (church bell); the belfry was destroyed in the Second World War, and was replaced by an electronically-operated bell.
An image of the Virgin on the left side of the church
A statue of St. Michael the Archangel treading on Satan
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18 October 2009

The Manila Cathedral (Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception)

The very first time I saw this magnificent structure is when I was in my second year in college, when I had to go to Intramuros for my Tourism project. Ever since then, I make sure to at least pass by its grandeur when visiting the area. In all my visits though, I was not given the chance to admire its interiors.

The current cathedral is already on its sixth incarnation, and is originally built out of nipa and bamboo. It has survived four centuries of fires, storms, earthquakes and war.

The Manila Cathedral facade after the war, 1948. Photo courtesy of the Old Philippines page in Facebook.

I'm a sucker for everything Roman, hence I loved the Romanesque architecture and particularly this Latin phrase inscribed on the arch of the cathedral's doorway: Tibi cordi tuo immaculato concredimus nos ac consecramus-- "We consecrate and offer to your Immaculate Heart."
The façade is adorned with the statues of six saints: St. Rose of Lima, St. Jacob the Great, St. Andrew the Apostle, St. Francis Xavier, St. Polycarp and St. Anthony Abbot.
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Through The Stained Glass

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