Sunday, April 26, 2009

Caramoan, Camarines Sur: Interior of St. Michael's Church

To continue my blog as of yesterday may I share with you some the photos I have taken. This time let me take you to the interior of this marvelous red brick church.

The Photo above is the statue of the Risen Christ behind a silhouette of the cross. If you are facing the altar the image on the left side is that of St. Michael the Archangel, the titular of the Church and I would guess that St. Joseph whose image is located on the right side is the secondary Patron Saint. At the middle is the Blessed Sacrament with a red oil lamp to indicate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In all honesty I would say that the image of the risen Christ is beautiful and evokes hope and strength. But one thing I am sad was the removal of the retablo. Baroque churches in the Philippines has the retablo which contains the niches for the images of the saints and which serves as the wall to which the altar is attached. The new design does not fit actually with the architecture of the Church.

The tabernacle occupies a central portion of the Sanctuary. However without the retablo the tabernacle design does not seem to fit in. The classic tabernacle design and modern backdrop does not get along well.

The Parable of the Sower as depicted on the ambo. Notice the Sower (Christ), the soil, the seed and the Birds. Beautiful symbolism truly inspiring. Thanks to the renovator who directed the renovation for the depth of ideas placed into this.

The Altar . I notice that it is movable and wooden. The image of the Lamb of God (Christ) with the Greek letters of alpha and omega carved on both sides symbols of Christ, the one who is offered on the altar. As we gaze on the altar let us be reminded of Him who shed his blood and gave himself up on the cross to make this propriety sacrifice.

Unlike other churches built in cruciform, this church is rectangular.

Thee Baptistry at the entrance of the church.

The life-size image of the crucufied Christ on the left side of the entrance of the church.

The Blogger, venerating the Crucified Christ.

Image of the Sacred Heart

St. Michael the Archangel

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Caramoan, Camarines Sur: Church of St. Michael, a Testimony of Faith

This is a continuation of my earlier entry about Caramoan. I don't why I love to take photos of Churches. Everywhere I go whenever I see beautiful church structures I take time to take photos. Perhaps i am impressed by churches because they are lofty expressions of love, adoration and worship of God. Although in the Scriptures, St. Paul tells us that in this world we do not have a continuing city but we seek after that City which is eternal. Nonetheless I would opine that Churches, though temporal in the sense that the materials that made up these structures will perish with the world, yet at the moment they have a transcendental value as they serve as doors to the Divine Life, to the life eternal. That in the heavenly Jerusalem we shall serve God day and night. As the prophet exclaimed " I have seen the waters flowed at the right side of the Temple." In the Philippines, I consider our old baroque churches as important symbols and artifacts because they are intimately linked to the Evangelization of the Mendicant orders who came here in the Philippines. These beautiful churches made of volcanic stones, lime and bricks are testimony and symbols of the faith they have planted in the hearts of the Filipino people. The deep religiousity and devotion of the Filipinos to the Church, to Jesus and the Blessed Mother are products of these evangelization. The establishment of towns (Pueblos) in the Philippines were often traced to the work of a mendicant Friar. I wonder how in a remote place such as Caramoan, where it is accessible only by sea would have such beautiful and wonderful Church Building. I could imagine how the ealy native Christian converts worked on this massive structure. It must be a testament of love, an expression of deep love and devotion to their new found faith. Wikipedia has this description of Caramoan:The name Caramoan has been officially adapted since 1619, the year it was founded by a zealous missionary, the venerable Spanish friar Francisco de la Cruz Y Oropesa. This 60-year old priest penetrated the thick virgin forest of the Caramoan Peninsula and found a small settlement in a place called Baluarte. Later on, this settlement was turned over to the administration of the Holy Bishopric in 1696.

Caramoan Church has a wide courtyard, spread over are trees and religious monuments and the well manicured lawn. I attended in one of the early morning Mass in the Church I was amazed to see lots of folks still wearing the scapulars and medals. I use to see these in my parish in my early childhood. But it vanished so suddenly. Now only a handfull wear scapulars. But in Caramoan many folks, still wear the scapular. I just hope and pray that the onrush of tourism in Caramoan will not result in demise of this religious practice. Indeed the Lord loves the simple and the faithful. But hates the scornful and the proud in heart.

The statue of St. Joseph as seen on the right wing of the lawn facing the church. This was brought to my attention by my student companion who said " Look at the Father and Child!" I chuckled in amusement because my student called this "father and child" a usage I never heard before. I told him it is enough to say that it is Saint Joseph and not to use the term Father and Child because that is used only to describe Mary and Jesus as Mother and Child. Joseph was the foster father of Jesus. Joseph is the spouse of the Virgin Mary wo remained a virgin throughout her entire earthly life.

The Image of St. Michael, the Archangel perched on a nitch on top of the facade

St. Paul the apostle, together with St. Peter are known to be the founder and patron saints of the Roman Church. In the patristic era, ecclesiastical centers were defined based on the apostle who founded the early Christian Communities. The Church in Constantinople was associated with St. Andrew. The Church of Alexandria was associated with St. Mark, while the Church of Rome was associated with St. Peter and St. Paul.

The front door. I was able to strike a brief conversation with the parish Priest. He lamented the fact that the old retablo was removed. He said that the current fixture does not fit in with the brick structure. How I wish that our pastors will have the sense of history and foster conservation rather than demolishing the artifacts of the past to give way to modern novelties. Some people say that it is outdated so everything has to change. I think this chaning for the sake of change will not do good for our soul as a people.

Below are some of the Photos I have taken of this red brick church:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Caramoan: Beauty of Nature and Gift of God to the Bicolano People

The once isolated and sleepy Caramoan has come alive because of the on-rush of Nature-Tourists who came to hear about the pristine beaches, islets, sea and mountains of Caramoan peninsula in the Province of Camarines Sur. Although I live in the neighboring province of Albay I never had the chance to visit this place except the other day when I have to come to this place to pre-arrange the venue for the field research of my students. No amenities and no comfortable travel. Although caramoan is within the mainland of Luzon yet it is most conveniently accessible be sea. The deep gorges and the huge mountains spanning the peninsula makes the building of roads and highways a very difficult dream to fulfill. Hence the people of Caramoan had to travel using an outrigger (pump boat) and sea travel takes 2 hours on regular days when the sea is calm. But on some other days when the sinds are strong one needs to be preapred to get wet at times because of the sudden splash of waves that usually hits the outrigger boats. But nonetheless it was an enjoyable trip. Personally I have loved the simple life and hated the sophistication of city living. Here you have to be true to yourself, to learn to live in harmony with nature and in harmony with fellow human beings, which seldom can be found in the sophisticated city life. Here people smile at each other, they know each other. One can openly strike a conversatiion with anyone, with your seatmate in the outrigger boats, with the people standing by at the corner store and even the pedicab drivers. Here are some photos I would like to share with you. I will continue with this blog in my next posting and I will show you some of the photos with religious themes. Caramaon is deeply Catholic. Its beautiful church and the piety of its people is indeed an inspiration. Watch out for this posting. I am a bit busy now a days and sometimes I have to squeeze my time and put blogging somewhere in the middle.

A Lonely islet with white sand beach.

These are the outrigger boats docked on the shores of Sabang, a village within the municipality of San Jose. Sabang fishing port is a gateway to Caramoan.

The mountains of Caramoan.

From the shore one will have an idea what lies deep into the heart of the Peninsula. Rich in biodiversity and also rich in mineral resources.

The Port in Guijalo, a village which serves as gateway to Caramoan.

The Shores of Sabang

There are no docking facilities hence one has to prepared to plunge into the waters or to hire the services of these industrious men always ready to take you at their backs for a minimal fee.

Statue of Andres Bonifacio, a Philippine Hero

The Municipal Hall

The main thoroughfare of the Town

Docks at Guijalo

Guijalo port

Saturday, April 18, 2009


On this Octave Day of Easter, or Dominica in Albis, we sing the Introit "As newborn babes, alleluia: desire the rational milk without guile. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. (I Pet II. 2.) Rejoice to God our helper: sing aloud to the God of Jacob. (Ps. LXXX.)" This is the day when the neophytes set aside their white garments. This celebration reminds us that as new born Christians we need to savor the milk of the Word of God and grow in our Christian Life.

The Image of the Risen Christ, Photo taken by the blogger at Daraga, Albay Church

This day is also know as Divine Mercy Sunday. John Paul II of blessed memory died April 2, but at that time that was the vigil for the Divine Mercy Sunday of which he as Pope was instrumental in instituting. Indeed a sign of grace and predistination. They that proclaim the Mercy of God will receive abundant mercy.

Friday, April 17, 2009


To all the readers of this blog, I would like to share with you the blessings I have received in joining with countless Catholics and with Sister Faustina now in heaven in praying and reciting the Novena to the Divine Mercy. Here are some photos of a copy of the Diary of Sister Faustina, an English Translation published by the Marian Press, the Philippine Edition with foreword from Most Reverend Teodoro Bacani, then District Bishop of Paco, Manila, and also a foreword from the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila. The imprimatur for the Archdiocese of Manila was issued by Bishop Bacani and the Nihil Obstat by Msgr. Josefino Ramirez of Manila. (Second Photo). The photo below is a prayer card published by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Shown below are two of my favorite Rosaries. The first one is a wooden Rosary from Italy, while the other one is a pewter rosary with the Miraculous Medals serving as beads. Since the early years of my career I have loved this devotion and in times of perils, difficulties and special needs both temporal and spiritual this devotion has proven to be of great help. May all the world honor the Divine Mercy of Our Lord. "Eternal Father I offer you the Body, the Blood, the Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins and that of the whole world.' Amen.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gubat Sorsogon: The Parish of St. Anthony of Padua

I would like to share with you some photos of the Church of St. Anthony. This summer - searing hot as it is I have a teaching assignment in one of the Campus of my University. I passed by this Church and took time to make this little visit to a church where St. Anthony is dearly loved. Many Franciscan saints have found some following in the Philippines. The Franciscans, the Augustinians and Dominicans were instrumental in the evangelization of the Philippine Islands. They thread into grounds were others were unwilling to do. They lived with the natives, adapted to their language and customs, if only to communicate to them the message of the Gospel. The churches they built, and most importantly the people who now faithfully obey the Gospel of Christ are living monuments of that efforts of which Christ will reward his servants in the world to come.

The Image of St. Anthony on top of the facade of the Old Church.

The Noon day sun at its strength as seen from the inside. The light forcefully penetrating the doors is a figure of Christ who knocks at the door of our hearts.

The noon day light, symbol of Easter and Hope of our Resurrection

The Church of St. Anthony, Gubat, Sorsogon, Philippines

The Church as seen from the street.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


"And now, at this moment, weak servant of God that I am, I must assume this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity. How can I do this? How will I be able to do it? All of you, my dear friends, have just invoked the entire host of Saints, represented by some of the great names in the history of God’s dealings with mankind. In this way, I too can say with renewed conviction: I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone. All the Saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me. And your prayers, my dear friends, your indulgence, your love, your faith and your hope accompany me."
- Pope Benedict XVI

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Vigil in Our Parish: St. John the Baptist Tabaco City

What a blessed Holy Week that was. Here are some more video clips of the Easter Vigil Liturgy in our parish church of St. John the Baptist, Tabaco City, Albay, the Philippines. The celebrant of the Liturgy was the Most Reverend Jose C. Sorra, D.D. Bishop Emeritus of Legazpi. In his Easter Homily, the Old but gracious Bishop eloquently explained the History of Salvation, the mystery of original sin and how in a practical way we could live up to the Light of Christ. He constantly made reference to the Paschal Candle as the symbol of Christ. We were in darkness because of sin and ignorance but now here is Christ the new Light. He said moreover that the readings from the scriptures were done under the Paschal candle in order to show us that without the light of Christ we can not perceive the meaning of the Gospel. He also emphasized the need for repentance and true penance. Moreover, he said that the sacrament of penance should also be called the sacrament of conversion. This is because we do only confess our sins but we must truly die to sin and turn away from it. That is the real meaning of penance. This event was also an occasion fro our Pastor, Monsignor Ramon Tronqued to say farewell. As Vicar General the current administrator of the Diocese decided that he should be assigned in the Cathedral so he could attend more closely with Diocesan concerns. Some of the priests will also assume new assignments, except for the youngest Priest, Fr. Dennis who will remain in our Parish.


Easter Vigil: Processional with the Celebrating Bishop and the Bringing in of the Paschal Candle


The Chanting of the Exsultet


The Bishop Emeritus Officiating on the Baptism of New Converts and renewal of Baptismal Vows

Friday, April 10, 2009

Parish of St. John the Baptist, Tabaco City - Good Friday Liturgy MORE PICTURES

We are almost twelve hours ahead of Central European Time (Rome), hence we celebrate Good Friday ahead of Rome and the rest of Europe and Americas. Filipino practices are to some extent unique; it is a blending of Spanish-Mexican Catholicism with a mixture of Filipino native practices. Filipinos are festive by nature and social events are celebrated with much fanfare. The early missionaries who evangelize these islands recognize this indigenous traits of the Filipinos (during colonial times, the Filipino natives were called Indios). The gospel message was easily conveyed by ceremonies and other para-liturgical activities such as dramas, plays and dioramas. In the parish where I belong, this is actually a very populous parish; Good Friday and Easter are celebrated with much color and vividness. After the liturgical services, people await the procession of religious floats referred to locally as Carosas. These religious floats depict events in the passion of Christ. The life-size statues bring to life the story of how Jesus suffered in order to redeem the world. These processions are popular with children. In a sense this is also a form of catechism. To the uninstructed and to those who are “children” in the faith, these floats serve to teach them and impress in their minds the story of Jesus. St. Paul in his letter told the Corinthians that he has fed them with milk because until now they are not yet ready to take on meat. Thus far from belittling these practices, I consider these as very important cultural practices that could help transmit the message of the gospel. These practices are indeed worth preserving. This is also a means by which we could teach the young about the gospel. To the simple and the uninstructed this could serve as vehicle for learning.

The Float Depicting the Last Supper. These floats are maintained and owned by certain families. They do this out of religious devotion or in fulfillment of a personal vow. Maintaining one of these floats is expensive. The owners have to change the clothes and decorations.

The Crowning with thorns

Simon of Cyrene Helping the Lord Carry His Cross

Jesus Carrying the Cross

The multitude of faithful at the Church Courtyard waiting for the procession to begin

The Festive Crowd in the Church Courtyard waiting for the procession to begin.

The people milling around in the courtyard

The Church Courtyard

Outdoor Altar. A metal fence was built around the altar to prevent bystanders from desecrating the altar. This is an example of an altar in the Tridentine era. Outdoor Masses are still held here but an altar table is place instead because of the ad populum orientation of the Novus Ordo Mass.

Altar of Christ the King

Diorama of the triumphal Entry