Guimaras Island Church visits Part VI – St. Vincent Ferrer Church, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras.
A wonderful lunch followed at the Shirven Hotel in San Miguel, Jordan.
I say a wonderful lunch and all I had was a ‘toasted BLT’ with fries and since I wasn’t driving a couple of San Miguel Pale Pilsens while Joemarie and the ‘Pilot’ Nilo had some deep fried ‘Pata’ with rice and lots of Coke – I’m not sure about their heart health with a lunch like that, but they did seem to enjoy it, immensly.
And, please don’t forget the:
But Ferg, what’s your problem, precisely?
You say you had a wonderful lunch, a toasted BLT with fries?
Yep, as far as I’m concerned, that was the best BLT I have had in the past 2 + years that I have been here in Philippines. Real large sized tomatoes, real lettuce and real “just right” bacon…magnificent! So there!
And the Shirven’s owners are from Florida! Where the lady of the house – a Filipina, from Guimaras – was classically trained as a Chef and the table she puts out is fantastic – even if it’s only a BLT in my case. She is sought after for catering assignments, weddings and the like. In fact, my Friend Dave deWall from www. philippinesplus.com (he’s an habitué of the Shirven’s) and hesays that the fish and chips there rival the best he has enjoyed anywhere else in the world!
Following that leisurely lunch we headed to our last stop of the day, St Vincent Ferrer Church in Nueva Valencia.
We literally drove through miles and miles of lush Mango Plantations bursting with fruit, since this was the beginning of the mango harvest season. Impressive to see, just like the orange groves in Florida, with lines on lines of fruit trees as far as the eye can see.
We eventually came upon the Our Lady of the Philippines, Trappist Monastery also in San Miguel, Jordan. This is the only men’s monastery in the Philippines operated by the Cistercian Order of Strict Observance (the Benedictine Order) which was founded in 1972. The Monks, as with others around the world – such as those at Oka Monastery, in Quebec, not far from home in Ottawa, who produce the world famous and unbelievably delicious and foul smelling Oka Cheese – the monks on Guimaras, on the other hand, earn their living by producing and selling a variety of Mango products.
The Monastery deserves a complete story on its own merits and we plan on doing a full exposé in the coming months. This is an interesting place and its story needs to be told. We’ll do that in the coming months!
Forward! As we continued our trek towards Nueva Valencia we can upon a sign at the side of the road announcing: “MacArthur’s Headquarters”. Huh? He was never here during the war. What gives? As the ‘tempus was fugiting’ we couldn’t stop but did some elementary research on our return and found out that:
In 1901 the American Army captured Barangay Supang and a US military encampment called Camp Jossman was established. The complement of men who manned the Camp were: a regiment of American Soldiers (a regiment is made up of between 3,000 and 5,000 men) and two battalions (a battalion consists of between 300 and 1,300 men) of the Philippines Scouts. They were responsible for the construction of Santo Rosario Wharf in Jordan and several other facilities in the area.
[The Philippines Scouts were General Douglas MacArthur’s soldiers—the guys who fought America’s first battle of World War II. The Philippine Division. Probably the best trained and possibly the best prepared U.S. Army division at the outset of the war.
Some of them were farm boys from California and Kansas, and Italian-Americans from New Jersey, as depicted in the black and white movies made during and after World War II. However, many of them were professional Filipino soldiers serving in the U.S. Army, commanded by American officers. They were special men in special units, officially designated “Philippine Scouts,” a term applied both to the Filipino enlisted men and to their American officers. For a young Filipino man, acceptance into the Philippine Scouts was a distinct honour–as was service in the Scout units for American officers.]
Douglas MacArthur, at the time, in 1901, was a Lieutenant ‘fresh out’ of the West Point Military Academy and somehow it is said that he made Supang the Regimental Headquarters. On base, several recreational and other facilities were built to service the troops. All went well until 1912 when orders were received from the Pentagon that the base was to be abandoned and the troops repatriated. Shortly thereafter, all the facilities on base were demolished and the troops embarked for home!
A few minutes later we arrived in Nueva Valencia, I was able to figure that out because of the sign…
At the very nice town plaza we found what we were looking for: The Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer. It is a very nice and modern looking place with the outbuildings (the convento and the parish hall and offices) all built in the same style – everything seems to match – it looks great!
It’s obvious to me that someone cares very much about this place. The property, the grounds and the buildings are all immaculate unlike many of the other churches we have visited that are dilapidated and uncared for or whose grounds are in a veritable mess. This church is cared for and you can clearly tell the difference.
After a leisurely walk about the grounds and the out buildings, it was time to inspect the church itself.
We started, naturally enough, at the front of the church and find that it contains three beautiful stained glass windows.
The main door is massive wood and nicely carved.
The door is flanked by two other carved panels which are set into the stone walls on either side of the doors.
And yet, to the outside of the main wall are two, what I will call ‘grottos’, in which are housed statues of the Blessed Virgin and St Vincent Ferrer the Patron Saint of the Parish.
The interior of the church is bright and beautiful. The colours used are calming and help you transition into a reflective and contemplative mode from your every day life’s travails on the outside.
The church is dotted with magnificent stained glass windows, which are amongst some of the nicest we have seen to date in the over 30 churches we have visited so far.
I’d venture to say, that even though this is what I and most others would consider a modern church that this one is well worth the visit. The church itself, the outbuildings, the grounds, the interior statuary and the stained glass windows make it an almost imperative visit.
We leave this small treasure behind by exiting through a side door that leads to an exit overlooking the Convento, the Parish Offices and the gardens…
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