Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

Call me strange but old buildings fascinate me. One reason why I am so enamored with the setting of the Harry Potter books. You know, Hogwarts Castle. If someone gave me a centuries-old castle like that, I’d take it without second thoughts and live in it — creaky ancient plumbing and all.

Eerie? Spooky? Freaky? I prefer mysterious, enigmatic and romantic.

I draw the line with old churches, however. While my fascination for old buildings does extend to churches, because most old churches have crypts and, often, graveyards within the grounds, I wouldn’t live in one. No matter how old. No matter how historic. No matter how breathtakingly beautiful.

But I can appreciate them from a rather detached perspective.

Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

So when we passed a couple of old churches in Laguna, one in Pakil and another in Paete, we stopped, entered and took photos. The first was the San Pedro de Alcantara Church in Pakil.

Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

It might appear deserted but it wasn’t.

Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

On Maundy Thursday, it was crowded. And this was quite early — 7.46 in the morning.

Whether the statues were being prepared for a procession or brought to the church after the procession, I do not know. I didn’t bother taking photos of the alter since the statues were covered with purple cloth — a Lenten custom.

Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

Outside the church was the usual collection of hawkers. Hats…

Wood carvers of Paete

Ornamental wood carvings, mostly with religious motifs… And, believe it or not — toys. Bicycles. And food. And drinks. I don’t know whether you’ve articulated it to yourself before but the moment a church is built, the value of real estate in the surrounding area goes up as, suddenly, the area acquires commercial value. Where people congregate, there’s business to be made.

Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

A couple of minutes later, we were in Paete. The Paete Church is also known as St. James The Apostle Church.

Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

Why the front door has to marred with tarpaulins is beyond me.

Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

I’m pretty sure that the little girl won in some parish-sponsored fund-raising project. Whatever.

Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

If you’re puzzled (I was until I read up) about the presence of the words “El Shaddai” in this figure of Moses with the Ten Commandments, I’m pretty sure that El Shaddai does not refer to the charismatic movement of Eddie Velarde. El Shaddai is Hebrew, one of Judaic names of God and translates to God Almighty.

Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

Why there’s a Philippine flag at the altar, I have no idea. If the yellow flag on the opposite side represents the church, I am guessing that the two flags symbolize separation of church and state. Something that the CBCP ought to remember.

Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

As with most Catholic churches during Lent, the Paete Church was filled with the statues that are featured in the Lenten procession.

Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

Paete is not famous for its wood carvers for nothing. Their craftsmanship shows through in the religious statues.

Culture, art and architecture: inside two churches in Laguna

This last photo of the candles… I always take photos of burning candles when I find myself inside a church. Not for any religious reason but because they remind me of that haunting scene in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame when Esmeralda sings God Help the Outcasts. Haunting scene. Haunting melody. Haunting words that are loaded with meaning. Here, I found it in Youtube.

  • karen

    I love old buildings too! Last summer I spent a week in Quebec City and it was awesome, even their McDonald’s is in a 100-year-old building (or more).

  • jazz

    Hi Connie!

    I would advise you to go to Taal, Batangas. There are 2 old churches there. One is the Basilica St. Martin de Tours. Said to be one of the biggest in Asia, though am not sure of this. The town of Taal is a bonus itself. Called the Vigan of the South. You will see a lot of old houses there. This is where we had our 5th and 6th church this year’s Visita Iglesia. Last year, we went to Laguna Area — started in Victoria, Laguna and ended in the Rizal province and visited those 2 churches you posted. We went around Laguna Bay. Yes, you are right, the countryside in that area is beautiful.

  • http://casaveneracion.com Connie Veneracion

    Old buildings have character, don’t you think? :)

  • beth

    Yeah that’s why I cant understand why some of our govt officials dont know how to preserve old buidings—look at the demolition of the art deco Jai Alai bldg in Taft Ave.And what about the Metropolitan Theatre in Lawton—it is fast deteriorating!Even some priest dont know how to preserve old churches!It’s a pity!Is the main reason really financial or the lack of proper education?Why cannt we preserve our heritage?Our country is one with a rich history and we should be proud of it.Look at Singapore a fairly new country and yet they try to preserve their heritage houses despite the fast growth of high rise buildings!

  • http://casaveneracion.com Connie Veneracion

    Been there many times (to buy embroidered stuff mostly) but never visited the churches. Thanks for the info. Been itching to go back to Taal for ages. :)

  • http://casaveneracion.com Connie Veneracion

    The problem, I think, is the attitude that old buildings serve nothing more as relics. Like ornaments from long ago. It’s better to turn them into something useful and functional so that the occupants have an impetus to preserve and take care of them. Old large houses, for instance, can be wonderful as small hotels. Imagine the added value and attraction to tourists!

  • http://jrocas.com.ph Jhay

    Churches in Laguna are really marvelous sites. I remember visiting the church in Majayjay, Laguna. It had a huge tree which literally grew on one of its outside walls, the roots hugging the stone blocks that make up the wall. Too bad, I didn’t have a camera with me that day.

  • http://casaveneracion.com Connie Veneracion

    Ooooh, we passed Majayjay. But I didn’t know there’s an old church there. Sayang. Next time.

  • Babs

    Hi Connie!=)

    I’m a regular reader of your blogs. I also love old buildings (actually anything old, like old wooden benches, old coins, old sewing machines, old bauls, old books, etc.). I do love photography (very basic, I didn’t take any lessons), food (eating, a little of cooking), interior design (I took it up in PSID but didn’t finish the Advance Course) that’s why I enjoy reading your articles. I’m a fan of yours. I admire how you raise your two wonderful kids. Your marriage & partnership with your hubby is worth emulating.=)

    Anyway, I’m sure it was just a slip-up when you combined Mike Velarde’s and Eddie Villanueva’s names. Mike Velarde is the head of El Shaddai movement, not Eddie Velarde.;-)

    Keep on writing Connie coz you inspire so many Filipinas to be assertive when the situation calls for it. Kudos to you! GOD bless!

  • http://casaveneracion.com Connie Veneracion

    Oh my goodness! OH. MY. GOODNESS. To be honest, when I was writing that part, the only images inside my head were the colorful jackets. And they definitely belong to Mike Velarde. LOL