It’s an easy 40 to 45 minute drive.
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There is some debate as to when the church at Guimbal was actually built. The most authoritative source, The Panublion, has construction staged over some 30 years starting under the guidance of Augustinian Friar Juan Aquado who apparently worked in Guimbal in 1742, 1744 and 1753. Although The Panublion only indicates that construction of the present church was started under Friar Aquado, there is no specific start date. It was, however completed between 1769 and 1774 under the leadership of Friar Juan Campos.
It was further enlarged during 1893 under Friar José Oranguren. Unfortunately, if was destroyed by fire during the Revolution of 1896 to 1898 and it was reconstructed by a group led by Friar Augustine Llorente who also added the current tower.
As with all churches constructed in 18th and 19th century Philippines particularly under the guidance of the Augustinian Friars – all construction was carried out using forced labour or ‘folio’.
The church was seriously damaged during the Japanese Occupation of World War II and the Lady Caycay Earthquake of January 1948. Reconstruction and rehabilitation of the church has been an on again and off again situation since that time.
At present, extensive work is being done on restoring the building to its once former glory. This restoration work is said to be being done in a historically accurate fashion to the extent that workers are crushing surplus ‘igang’ blocks and the resultant powder is used as part of the cement mixture used on site. This igang powder and the yellow coloured limestone blocks used in the original construction and the rehabilitation give the church its yellowish/golden hue just like the churches in Tigbauan and Miagao.
There is only one aisle, the centre aisle, which looks a lot like it is covered by a woven Turkish or Persian runner. Obviously it isn’t. It is rather an intricate and colourful marble mosaic.
The sanctuary is quite beautiful, as can be seen from this photograph. Made mostly of solid polished marble. The centre crucifix is flanked by statues of Saint Nicholas on the right and of the Blessed Virgin on the left.
The church is not as big as the previous ones we have seen which were quite majestic in size. This one is built in more of a Spanish Colonial Style, which was predominant in Mexico at the time. It should be remembered that many of the Augustinians that settled in the region originally served the Augustinian missions in Mexico before being ‘transferred’ to the Philippines.
In the courtyard adjacent to the church itself, we find the ‘convento’ as well as the new Adoration Centre, which was only recently opened.
San Nicholas de Tolentino was an Augustinian Friar who was assigned by his superiors to Tolentino because of his exceptional fervour in preaching and his generosity with the poor. In his later years the two ‘ruling’ families of Tolentino were in constant strife. He re-established ‘the peace’ by his preaching in the streets and his success in working with the poor.
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