Tuesday, February 17, 2015

San Juan Nepomuceno Church (San Juan, Batangas)

It may not look anything particularly eye catching, but San Juan Nepomuceno Church has had a lot of history behind it. In 1843, the original church was constructed in a town called San Juan de Bocboc, now called Barangay Pinagbayanan. It was made of bamboo and palm. This was later refurbished into a church made of stone in 1855 under Father Damaso Mojica. Twenty eight (28) years later, floods destroyed the church. In 1894, It was transferred to its present site under Fr. Celestino Yoldi. A bell tower was appended to the building between 1928 and 1935. Further renovations were done following the years 1957 and 1995.

The church was named after the town's patron saint, Saint John Nepomucene, the patron saint of Czechoslovakia and "martyr of the confessional" because of St. John's refusal to divulge a queen's confession which got him King Wenceslaus IV's ire. He was thrown into the river to drown. Invoked for floods and slander, St. John Nepomucene's feast is celebrated every May 16th.

The facade has this "chopsuey" look that doesn't quite mesh aesthetically. The bell tower's modern design seems a mismatch beside the stone church. Inside, the wooden ceiling renders an atmosphere of utter simplicity - like piles of brown planks.

During our visit, a group of children was practicing for some ritual. I'd have stayed to observe but we were in a rush home. The church is located from a side road near the national highway. En route to its compound, you'd find some beautiful heritage houses. Our visit was a mere detour after an overnight stay at a resort in the burough of Laiya further southeast, still part of the municipality of San Juan in the province of Batangas which, in turn, is located south of the Luzon land mass.

San Juan (population: 80,000) has 33 kilometers of coastline spread on 16 coastal barangays, all dependent on fishing. It has 496 hectares of mangroves. The municipality has a total of 42 barangays (counties). As mentioned earlier, it boasts of private-owned heritage houses - from people like Lorenzo Hernandez, Soledad Magtibay, Eugenia Castillo, Bonito Mercado V. Marasigan, et.al. It is an interesting town if you have the time to roam outside your beach itinerary.

This is the Eye in the Sky.

Mismatched design

San Juan used to be part of the town of Rosario. Nearing San Juan, you get to pass this makeshift structures now "fighting" for their right to live on a land which  doesn't even belong to them. In this part of the world, non-land owners have puzzling entitlement.     

Occupying what should be the sidewalk.

The way from Manila to San Juan is tedious and long. From Lipa, it takes almost 1.5 hours to get to Laiya.


Ramakrishnan said...

Nice old beautiful ancient church ! Love the last few pictures featuring thatched stalls flanking the road.Looks like a typical scene from out of rural India.

eye in the sky said...

That's what I've noticed about South India, Ram. The type of dwellings, the flora are familiar. :)