Monday, March 11, 2013

View from the Top: Conversion of Saint Paul Church

Blame the Moro and Dutch marauders during the 16th and 17th century for this church's magnificent location. Located on top of a hill where one can see the whole town, the sea, and neighboring island of Marinduque stands a church named not after a saint, but an event on the life of a saint.

Conversion of Saint Paul Church
Built in 1817, this house of worship was constructed under Geronimo delos Angeles. Though the town was founded in the same location as early as 1766, it is only after 51 years that the present church was constructed due to the Moro's frequent raiding at that time. Realizing the strategic importance of Maaliw Hill,  and the finding the lost image of St. Paul under a Pitogo tree on the same hill, they decided to settle in, which is now the town of Pitogo, Quezon

Church facade

Like a crown jewel placed on a pedestal, the church imposes an immediate sense of reverence with it's massive facade made of cut coral stone blocks. The three tier front is divided by decorative Doric columns, in between each are hollow niches and windows with stained glass. A media naraja (half orange) pediment with a small belfy on top finishes the edifice, with the image of St. Paul enshrined in a niche in it's center.

Floral bas reliefs with emblems decorate the facade
The church was able to maintain it's thick walls, which I guess are about more than a meter thick. Now I can only imagine how hard it is to transport the stone blocks from the beach to the hilltop! Crossfit and P90X? Chickenfeed...

Benches in the patio fronting the church
Interiors are already renovated, with paletada on it's walls, and a contemporary retablo and fixtures; except for the chandeliers which I do remember resemble the ones we had in Gumaca. Donated, perhaps?

Renovated interiors, good thing it it not overdone

Flight of stairs to the belfry
Old beams in the ceiling
I was quite surprised that access to the belfry was quite open. A few flight of stairs to the choirloft, a spiral staircase to the ceiling, and a few more steps, you're in the belfry already. However, it's accessibility is evident with the graffiti on it's walls.

Good to note that even if it's open, the way is a bit narrow. But the way to heaven, as they say, is no heaven. But the hard work is surely paid off with the magnificent view of the town that awaits you.

Antique icon on St. Paul guarding the town

It's nearing noon, but the air in the belfry is still cool and fresh. 

View from the Tower of Power

Two old bells can be found in the belfry, one is dated 1872.

Año 1872
Alarm clock anyone?

See the cracked part? Clumsy as always, I scraped my arm, creating a shallow wound. Great souvenir. =)


Also interesting to see are the carvings on the right side entrance, as well as the old convent which is now converted into a multi-purpose hall, but still were able to maintain the old coral stone walls.

Side entrance and large wooden beams

Thinking of a sidetrip? Me and my friend, multi-awarded blogger Estan Cabigas of found this old watchtower locally known as castillo. Just ride a tricycle from the church, and tell the driver to take you to the 'lumang castillo'.

Old watchtower made of cut coral blocks. Beachfront immediately below it with clear and clean waters

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