|The half-buried Church of Bacolor|
The church might looks small, or short, considering that it's a Spanish Colonial era edifice. The reason why? Half of it is already buried under lahar.
|Detail of a bas relief on the facade, half buried as well|
First built in 1576 (that's 437 years ago!), the church made up of light materials was destroyed in an earthquake, which is quite common during those era. Thinking of making a more permanent and earth-movement proof house of worship, it was rebuilt in 1886. Made up of cut stones and bricks, Bacolor townspeople painstakingly created a masterpiece built to withstand any force of nature.
|Retablo restored. A church adminstrator closing the gate towards my eye candy!|
However, after 109 years of dominating Bacolor's landscape, it gave in to Apo Namalyari's fury. Mount Pinatubo's mud, ash, and pyroclastic materials buried around half of the church's height. 12 meters, as it was published. All of it's jewels; pews, santo's and antique poon's, all gone.
|A clerestory window, supposed to be high and above eye level, now serves as ventanilla|
The original retablo, unable to fit in the altar, is now housed under the dome to accommodate it's height. Based on how it looks now, you wouldn't even think that it was once buried in mud and ash!
|The main retablo placed under to dome to accomodate it's height|
Unfortunately, a church administrator already closed the main altar grills, so I only got a chance to peek at the equally beautiful side retablo. It is richly carved and decorated, I'm tempted to cross the fence and take more pictures! But a good boy that I am, I restrained myself.
|Side retablo, as beautiful as the main|
To give the nave more vertical space, ceiling was made bare, showing the original trusses of the church. Dormer windows are added to let light in and for good ventilation as well.
|Ceiling exposing the old goods: brick, wood, and antique chandeliers|
Curious as I was, I tried going to the church's belfry entrance since it was open (though I'n not sure if visitors are allowed), and saw the original church bells and marvelous wood and stone works in the tower's frame.
|Wooden stairs and floors of the belltower|
At the tower's opposite side is a museum. I think it was the convento before, basing on it's architecture and attachment to the church. Other relics and old santo and photos pre-volcanic eruption are on display here.
|The museum, a lahar survivor|
Disappointingly, this is the only church in Pampanga that our trip went to. And it whet my appetite, congratulations, which made my hunger for more Kapampangan heritage intensified. Quoting Gen. McArthur; Pampanga, I shall return!