I just love old churches! Even though sometimes it is not part of my travel itinerary, I still find myself visiting the town’s local church and get mesmerize with its history and antiquity. My country has lots of churches, chapels and other places of worship since we are mainly a Catholic country. After being colonized by the Spaniards for more than 300 years, Christianity will always be embedded into our beliefs, faith and culture.
San Guillermo Parish Church – Bacolor, Pampanga
(The Half-Buried Church)
This parish church was less than five minutes away from Apag Marangle (please see previous post “A Day in Pampanga: Apag Marangle“) by car or approximately fifteen to twenty minutes by foot. It is one of the oldest and largest churches in Pampanga, first built in 1576. It has been a tourist destination for a long time but it became more famous after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption.
Originally 12 meters high, only half of the original facade of the church can be seen today due to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. Lahar flowed from the slopes of the volcano which buried half of the church. The original entrance door can no longer be seen. What is being used right now as entrances were formerly church windows.
After the volcanic eruption, the townspeople excavated the altar and the retablo (means a devotional painting), and relocated it under the dome. The retablos niches were filled with centuries-old statues which were saved from destruction of the lahar.
The bell tower is rarely used and off-limits to tourists. Bats find the place conducive for living.
Part of the church was the Recuerdos Sagrados de Bacolor (Sacred Memorabilia of Bacolor) or Museum. Displayed were the usual church photographs, relics, history timeline and paintings.
One of its interior halls was converted into an Adoration Chapel. One has to stoop down the doorway to get to the room.
San Guillermo Church had withstand a lot of tragedies, two destructive earthquakes and a volcanic eruption, yet it still stands proud up to this day and age. Although half-buried, it still continues to provide its church patrons the spiritual nourishment they need. And as along as it stands, the people of Bacolor will always be reminded of the town’s strength to gather together and rise from devastation. It will always be a symbol of a whole soul.