The driving distance from our jumping off point at the SM City parking lot in Iloilo to the church in Calinog is approximately 62 kilometres. Which translates into a driving time of about 1½ hours to 1¾ hours.
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Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church was initially constructed with light materials. It was reconstructed by Friar Cresencio Bravo in 1874 and was blessed on September 27, 1883. Its baroque-style facade has a semicircular arched main entrance flanked by two openings, niches, pilasters and pediments. It has one nave and a transept
The pilasters mounted on the rectangular bases up to the pediment, dividing the façade into one whole rectangular bases up to the pediment. A one story building including pilasters and occuli (round small stain glass windows). The actual occuli are normally indicative of the second story of the church corresponding to the location of the organ loft. The front of the church is a plain brick or stone front.
There is a portico over the main door covering its two additional doors to the side of the main door. This normally also is indicative of a single nave church with a central aisle with side aisles.
On the front of the church we also find niches on the ground floor level in which are placed statues of Saint Francis of Assisi and San Lorenzo Ruiz (The first Filipino Saint).
The side doors are rather interestingly carved, each one has two separate doors each carved to depict one of the evangelists, Saints Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.
Have you noticed what is above both of these doors? Just above the speakers, that is. Have you got it?
Here it is!
That’s right it’s the good old Augustinian Seal indicative that the church was originally built by Augustinian Friars.
As we move to the Westside of the church we note that it is quite plain in keeping with the fact that it is built in the Baroque style. There are two entrances on both sides of the church with each one being topped by an occuli.
Along this side of the church there is a statue of Our Lady.
Spaced between the doors on the sides of the church are four large windows with semi circular tops and each has a “shade” over it.
The stone work throughout the building is damaged and needs on-going refurbishment and repair.
On entering the church, we were struck by the differences between the condition of the exterior and the interior. The interior has been seriously refreshed recently and it looks marvellous.
As we move up the nave we come to the transcept which contains a chapel on each side of the centre aisle. The massive altars are impressive indeed with important statuary and the confessionals.
As we cross the transcept and enter the chancel we find it to be very large constructed mostly of marble. The main altar contains the tabernacle and supported by dual columns are three niches containing statues of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, The Sacred Hearts of Mary and Jesus.
As we move back towards the exit, we are able to get into the choir loft to explore a bit of that space by climbing a narrow metal spiral staircase which can be seen in the photograph included below..
We were able to get a close up look at the windows and occuli as well as to gauge the actual thickness of the walls. This church, after all, was originally built as a fortress church. The choir loft is a bit of misnomer in this case because it is so narrow and is basically only a platform with no seating available.
From this platform we can inspect the actual central window opening (no glass) and the two occuli and as mentioned can properly asses the thickness of the walls where are about 3 meters or about 10 feet thick.
And then the occuli also without glass.
Coming down from the loft we arrive at the Baptistery containing a medium sized baptismal font made of pure marble and beautiful piece of work.
On leaving the church we enter to side yard which is where the modern Convento and Parish Offices are located.
The church like many of those we have already visited has had to bear the brunt of natural and man made calamities. During the Revolution of the late 1890s and early 1900s was damaged and subsequently restored.
The most serious calamities to occur were in 1943, prior to the occupation, fire destroyed the church and destroyed the church’s priceless collection of 19th century ivory images and icons.
And again, nature came to the fore in January 1948 when the Lady CayCay earthquake destroyed the church.
Before leaving this impressive building we take on last look and see.
And in the park facing the church’s main gate we found this statue of President Ramon Magsaysay, a true Filipino hero! To read more about President Magsaysay please click here.
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