I was told that the Cathedral in my hometown was given a face lift this year...I have been away in Dipolog for quite a while and this news about the renovation of the City's Oldest Architectural Monument was a BIG thing for me.... so I relied on photos to see the look of a new church's facade...to my surprise, I was halfway close to disappointed by the outcome!.
As far as I can remember, there were restorations, renovations and alterations being made in this Neoclassical - Romanesque Architecture Cathedral for the past 3o years...
In the early 80's, the rows of gigantic columns leading the faithful's gaze to the high altar were removed, possibly for a reason of accommodating more parishioners as more church benches were added. A big mistake!
In the mid 90's, under the ecclesiastical supervision of Msgr. Esteban C. Gaudicos, VG. he ordered the full restoration of the exact replica of the main Altar or Retablo which was executed in Abstract Baroque by the extraordinary genius Dr. Jose Rizal during his exile in Dapitan....this was a triumph in the Cathedral's history as they try to revive the old glory of the church. But!..... they failed to use the exact materials of Philippine hardwood as instructed by the National hero himself more than a 110 years ago...What you see now is a cold marble structure from an unknown quarry... this could raise issues questioning the authenticity of the design....visibly today, there isn't even a marker of validation from the National Historical Institute that recognizes Rizal's contribution to the church's history.
In time of the Christian Jubilee, the church ceiling coffered with panelings all rendered in wood was fully restored....bringing back the golden age of the Cathedral. These exquisite artesonado ceilings are what made the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral famous and much beloved by all faithful and religious parishioners. The hand carved faces of the four evangelists in the central apse above is as old as the church....This is one of the few churches in the entire Philippines that has maintained and restored the magnificent hand carved ceilings....a National treasure!
In the last 10 years, the church interior walls, niches and side ceilings has undergone a lot of repainting from shades of pastel greens to powder blue then changed into Cream and Lemon chiffon hues and tones. At present, the side columns and arches were painted with Burgundy to Burnt Umber with shades of white trimmings particularly gave a feeling of old colonial palette...and I want to call this as a flawless craftsmanship!... In contrast to this are the long pews of what it used to be in natural wood color....now altered, its fate suffers in Peach color... a very distracting site!
Apparently, the restoration of the Cathedral's facade gives more enthrallment to the Church distinctive identity its magnificence awakens the pride of every Dipolognon but with a closer look at the details one can notice that:
- The main entrance is too narrow... and the 5 arches are too massive in width, its distance from one arch to another is far-off and the its height is shortened from its base. It is the exact opposite of the original main entrance wherein all parishioners can freely walk in and out before and after mass..
- The statues of saints on the ground level were almost dwarfed by the sheer size and magnitude of the whole church..the statues height and anatomy doesn't compliment with the whole structure...
A more closer look at this newly restored facade it reveals a slight similarity of the famous Manila Cathedral in Intramuros (enclosed picture) even the arrangement of the statues of saints on the lower level.. is a copy cat like attempt.
Nevertheless, the beauty of this church is further enhanced by warm chrome yellow tones of the stone bricks... a perfect site as each day this church is kissed by a golden sunset.
This Church has stood the test of time and it still continues to be the living example of the Catholic faith and never fails to welcome all believers..........and it'll be a BIG challenge for future restorers.
Special Thanks to: Maryan Tizon, Juanna Mercado, Sharon Santiago
Photos Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25868826@N05/