June 3, 2012

Agog in Agoo

From May 12 to 24, my husband and I went on a road trip through the Central Luzon and Ilocos Regions, stopping at cities and towns that we've never visited before. My Manila goes outside Metro Manila for the next few days. I hope you enjoy the trip.

facade of the Agoo BasilicaAfter leaving Tarlac City on day two of our road trip, we spent a couple of hours in the town of Agoo (pronounced with three syllables), 200 kilometers northwest of Metro Manila on the western coast of Luzon, and one of the oldest towns in the province of La Union. It was already an important port and trade center populated by local Pangasinense and Japanese settlers before the Spanish, led by Juan de Salcedo, "founded" it in 1578. Salcedo was accompanied by two Franciscan missionaries, Fray Juan Bautista Lucarelli of Italy and Fray Sebastian de Baeza of Spain.

facade of the Agoo Basilica The Basilica of Our Lady of Charity, better known as the Agoo Basilica, was constructed only in 1976–78. The original church built by the Spanish was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1892.

one of the two bell towers of the Agoo Basilica The church was designed by Architect Ignacio Palma Bautista. The architecture is unusual because of its two bell towers. The left bell tower is hexagonal and has four layers, though the actual belfry seems to be only the top two layers, and I'm not really sure about the top layer. The second layer from the bottom seems to hold only horn loudspeakers.

one of the two bell towers of the Agoo Basilica The right bell tower is designed after an espadaña or bell-gable, which is less expensive than full towers and is more often used for smaller churches and parishes.

left panel of the main doors of the Agoo Basilica The main doors are etched with what look to me to be Hebrew characters. I cannot read what they say, but the two doors remind me so much of the two tablets on which God inscribed the Ten Commandments which he gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. I will have to ask the help of Dina for these doors.

right panel of the main doors of the Agoo Basilica For worshipers who may have forgotten their things at home, candles, rosaries, scapulars and medallions are sold just inside the doors. It may be just me, but I wish the parish would build a special kiosk outside the church for this; I keep thinking of the story of Jesus going ballistic against the money changers and animal sellers in the Temple. 

nave, altar and wooden ceiling of the Agoo Basilica Inside, what I found most striking was the church's wooden ceiling. Isn't it gorgeous? 

left aisle and wooden ceiling of the Agoo Basilica The ceiling over the aisles—which always have pews in our churches because of the number of church-goers—are just as beautiful and made even warmer because of the stained glass windows beside them.

a stained glass window and confessional at the Agoo Basilica The confessionals are designed to match the ceiling. One stands in front of the stained glass window showing the crucifixion of Jesus and the two thieves. It is near the entrance, hence the holy water font on its right. The framed marble relief on the left shows Jesus falling while carrying the cross to Golgotha, one of three times he does so in the Way of the Cross.

fountain and statue of Pope John Paul II outside the Agoo Basilica A small plaza in the grounds is dedicated to the Blessed Pope John Paul II, who elevated the church to a basilica minore in 1982. 

the Jose D. Aspiras Civic Center across the Agoo Basilica Across the church is the Jose D. Aspiras Civic Center, from where I took the first photo. It is named after a former Philippine Tourism Minister and major benefactor of the church who was from Agoo. It made me smile to see that it echoes the design of the church. However, the O-C in me wishes that the pole-lined brick path was also centered on the civic center's entrance and not just the church's.  LUZON ROAD TRIP SERIES #2


Dina said...

Hilda shalom. The Hebrew on the two doors is the short form of the Ten Commandments.

Dina said...

Thanks for all the good explanations. You are lucky to have a country where additional pews are needed.
This is my first time to see church doors with Hebrew on them.

brattcat said...

what a fascinating tour you've given us here...and i'm so glad i followed dina so i could have confirmation.

chingcheekee said...

Hi Dahilds!! Enjoyed your blog on Agoo (cute title too!) Just wanted to let you know that for me, a true-blue Ilocana, the Agoo cathedral is known as the Aspiras clan's attempt to memorialize themselves and, hopefully assure a place for them in heaven. Everytime my family went to Laoag, my hometown, I'd give "historical annotations" to my children about how one mural in the church includes the iconic faces of Imelda Marcos and Amparo(?) Aspiras depicted as angels and saints, complete with bouffant hairdos very popular in their heyday. I don't know if you saw it but if you and Exie didn't have a guide, you probably missed it. Well, next time, bring me along. hehe. Love and regards. chingjcheekee