Thursday, May 8, 2014

Carcar City Kiosk and St. Catherine of Alexandria Church

Byzantine art was basically a continuation of the Roman aesthetic when the Roman empire collapsed. While Roman art is riddled with the classics, Byzantine art created symbols with two overlapping themes: religion and imperialism. It is quite unusual then to find Byzantine influences in the architecture of the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, considered the second oldest church in Cebu, located at the poblacion of Carcar City in the southern Cebu Province. Aren't we too far removed from the Romans and their successors?

The church has two gracefully designed minarets with crucifixes on top of them. Fr.Antonio Maglano started its construction in 1859, a gargantuan task that took 6 years to complete.

But it was Fr. Manuel Fernandez, an Augustinian friar from Asturias (Spain), who eventually took over incorporating Byzantine design with Mughal influences. The Greco-Roman altar is in fact something to ogle at.

The entrance of the church is through a gate by the side of the lawn riddled with statues of different saints. In front of it is the town plaza with a park and several other pedestalled statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

The church was dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria (left), a virgin martyr whose body was found years later in Sinai with hair still growing - and with healing oil oozing from her body.

Her story was so fantastical that some questioned her existence and thought that she was a mere product of a writer's exceedingly adventurous imagination. In the story, she was to be killed on a spiked breaking wheel as ordered by a king whose marital proposal was rejected by then Princess Catherine known for her Christian faith. When she touched the wheel, it broke and disintegrated (thus she's also known as "Catherine of the Wheel"). She was eventually beheaded. Among her "sins" were the conversion of thousands of pagans to Christianity.

As of this writing, this Carcar church is 155 years old! Refurbishments of the altar are being undertaken as we write this.


Meanwhile, Carcar Kiosk (1st photo) stands on the circular Plaza Rotunda which is considered as Carcar's iconic landmark, situated at a busy roundabout in Poblacion III. The site itself is historically significant among Carcaranons because this was where the olden folks used to hide against the frequently marauding Moros; the city is after all, located along the coast of Eastern Sugbu. They used to call this "Mowag" which could be the etymology of "buwag"  ("to break apart"). Local folks would gather at this site to meet or hide. From here, they'd part ways to go back to their own towns when coast was clear.

The brainchild of the town mayor, and acknowledged "Father of Carcar" Don Mariano Mercado, the kiosk was designed by Martino Abellana. Pro-American sentiments reverberate in the symbolic statues above the kiosk and around the plaza. The one on top depicts America and its guiding hand. The three pairs of statues around the plaza represent Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

In this vicinity, there are several shops selling chicharons and ampaws. I tried to look for lechon, but after checking out several restaurants. There was none readily found in the vicinity. It's easy to hop on a bus back to Cebu City (PhP45), but I chose to stop by Naga City (PhP25) located next town. Just for an hour or two. :)

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Carcar Kiosk in Plaza Rotunda is designed by Martino Abellana.

America is guiding the Philippines.
Pairs of statues represent Luzon and Mindanao. I missed the representative of the Visayan folks. :)

Plaza Rotunda and the iconic kiosk. This photo only courtesy of Panoramio's "dukay".


Caycay at PhP100 for 3 packs.


Hop on a bus back to Cebu City

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