CamNorte's Oldest Church Rises from Ashes
Choose Philippines | Oct 07, 2015
Camarines Norte is one of the six provinces that make up the Bicol Region. Its original territory, Camarines, was created from the Bicol Province in 1636. It was then divided into Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur in 1829, merged briefly as Ambos Camarines from 1854 to 1857, divided, merged again in 1893, and finally separated in 1917.
Despite this tumultous history in terms of its political and geographical divide, CamNorte's first three Catholic churches stood the test of time, namely: St. Peter the Apostle Church in Vinzons, St. John the Baptist Church in Daet, and Our Lady of Candelaria Parish Church in Paracale. All built in 1611 by Franciscan friars, they even withstood the tragedy of war, calamities, and other natural occurrences—except for one.
St. Peter the Apostle Church in Vinzons, Camarines Norte was recently reopened to the public after being gutted by fire the morning after Christmas in 2012. June 29, 2015 is now a historic date for its parishioners since it wasn't only the celebration of the Feast Day of St. Peter but also the re-dedication of the 404-year-old church.
Also known as Parroquia de San Pedro Apostol, the Spanish-era Church is characterized by a plain and traditional facade, which is a triangular pediment and a a flat wall, and a square bell tower. An arched entrance, two arched window sills, and a space which holds the town patron break the monotony of the exterior.
After the 2012 fire incident, most of the structure, except for the concrete walls, was razed to the ground. The site was cleared in June 2013 and a structural analysis was done the following month. Funds for its reconstruction were donated by the people of Vinzons as well as devotees from other countries.
The newly-built church follows its 15th century setting. Baldozas mosaicos or machuca tiles were used for the flooring, wooden doors and benches were all made of yakal, the windows were handcrafted with symmetrical design, and the altar has Italian granite flooring. Even the church's pulpit made of wooden materials, one of the few things that survived the fire, was completely restored. The wall paintings and ceiling murals were done pro bono by one of the Philippines' best visual artists Hermes Alegre, who is from Daet, Camarines Norte.
Such complete restoration of the centuries-old St. Peter the Apostle Church proves not only the Bicolanos' resiliciency but also their innovativeness and generosity.
Witness more of the Oragon's historic structures and visit the world's first Rizal monument in Daet.
How to Get There
- Bus lines like DLTB, Philtranco, and Superlines have trips to Daet daily (9 to 10 hours). Take a jeepney going to Vinzons.
- From Manila, there are regular flights to Naga.
- From Naga, ride a bus or van going to Daet (2 hours).