Baroque-inspired Daraga church in Albay undergoes rehab after 240 years (with photo)

February 26, 2013 12:42 am 

By Rhaydz B. Barcia

DARAGA, ALBAY, Feb. 25 — For the first time, the lone surviving church in the country with salomonica columns–the hallmark of baroque architecture that characterizes the colonial churches of Spanish-America– built uphill in Sta. Maria village in this town, is undergoing repair after 240 years to preserve its historical, cultural and religious values.

Fr. Jun Barquez, parish priest of the Our Lady of the Gate, said the repair of this historical church is being made to protect the structure from further deterioration.

Fr. Barquez said the context of the conservation process is the fundamental principle that any intervention in any part of the structure can be acceptable if it does not adversely affect its cultural significance.

The church’s eastern and western façades, including the bell tower and the baptistry of the Our Lady of the Gate, is also undergoing restoration.

This church was declared a national cultural treasure by the National Museum by virtue of the RA 4846, as amended by Presidential Decree 374 and RA 8492.

The Our Lady of the Gate parish, commonly known as Cagsawa Church, is a blend of the old and new and described as a hybrid of architectural styles.

The side facing Mt. Mayon was built much like the façade and appeals to local and foreign tourists interested in the view of the legendary volcano and the famous church.

The four spiral columns, architecturally called salomonica, that stand out from the façade make the Daraga Church unique among the churches throughout the country.

It is the only surviving church in the country with salomonica columns–the hallmark of the baroque in the colonial churches of Spanish-America.

The twisting spiralling columns reinforce the complexity of the design and the beguiling, dynamic movement of the façade.

Four round medallions in the middle of the columns bear the images of the four evangelists–Matthew, John, Luke and Mark–and are carved out of volcanic stones.

The white color that the parishioners can see is a lime coating (protective covering), which protects the façade from exposure to elements and further deterioration.

It is a common belief that the church was built on account of the eruption of the Mayon Volcano that buried the town of Cagsawa in 1814. But, according to historical records, reconstruction of the church began in 1773, although it was finally consecrated in 1854 by Pope Pius 1X.

Historical accounts said American forces bombed the church during World War 11. Its roof was completely blown up and the right wing and wall partially destroyed.

Right after the war, the church was hurriedly reconstructed with a mixture of Renaissance Gothic and Mexican Baroque, distinguishing it from most other churches built in colonial Philippines.

The existence of the church is of great importance not only to Daragueños but also to devotees from other places.

The rehab work for the front and right wing façades is being done in coordination with the National Historical Institute and its fund was sourced out from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, with counterpart from parishioners.

Today, this more than two-centuries-old beacon of faith, called the Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Church, of the Albayanos built on top of Sta. Maria Hill is a prime tourist destination in Albay province. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/mmg/abb

PHOTO CAPTION 1:

A man walks in front of the 240-year-old Daraga Church built on top of Sta. Maria Hill in Daraga town. This historical church is undergoing construction after 240 years to preserve the structure from deterioration. (PNA)

PHOTO CAPTION 2:

A laborer walks in front of the 240-year-old Daraga Church built on top of Sta. Maria Hill in Daraga town. This historical church is undergoing construction after 240 years to preserve the structure from deterioration. (PNA)

<P>TAKEN BY: RHAYDZ B. BARCIA RBB/ABB

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