Not only is Baguio City one of the most charming cities in the Philippines, but many visitors express that side trips within the city are of even more interest than the city itself. The name Baguio of course conjures, for both the international and domestic traveler, a highland retreat in the Grand Cordillera in Northern Luzon, with pine trees, crisp cold breezes and low verdant knolls and hillocks. Among the many places of interest in Baguio, perhaps you would want to include a visit or make a quick stop at the Baguio Cathedral. If you like ecclesiastical architecture you will most assuredly find it worth your while to stop at this cathedral also known as Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral.
Baguio City is now expanding with light industrial development but with the presence of the towering cathedral, the city manages to preserve its old charm. The richness and uniqueness of the cathedral’s façade and being built at the highest elevation of Session Road, makes it a noticeable centerpiece of the city’s main thoroughfare.
A little history
|Sketch of the Baguio Cathedral posted at the stairway by Frank Georg, a German landscaper volunteer who fell in love with the beauty of Baguio|
The Baguio Cathedral is the biggest catholic church in Baguio and is the center of religious activities such as during the Holy Week. It is the only building left standing after American planes bombed the city to retake it from the Japanese Imperial Army, which made Baguio its military headquarters during World War II.
|Baguio Cathedral historical marker|
Locals believe it was a miracle that the cathedral survived after the city’s carpet bombing in 1945, saving thousands of lives.
The first chapel, which was dedicated to St. Patrick, was built in the heart of downtown Session Road before 1920 by missionaries of the Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (CICM or the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary).
The CICM relocated the chapel to the hill where the cathedral now stands. The hill was called “Kampo” by the Ibaloi people, but it was renamed “Mount Mary” by the Catholic mission led by the late Fr. Florimond Carlu, a Belgian missionary.
Baguio Cathedral (Our Lady of the Atonement Cathedral) celebrated its 75th anniversary last June 2011, which is a milestone for one of the first structures to rise in the city after the American colonial government built Baguio more than 100 years ago.
|Twin Towers of Repose and Order: The Cathedral with its Gothic architecture influence.|
|Details of the church facade.|
|Horizontal details of the cathedral|
|Roses and Arches: Architectural details of the external side portion of the cathedral near the altar|
The cathedral also reflects sense of balance, a perfect feature for this earthquake prone province. The church's elements are arranged in precisely the same manner on each side. The designs are duplicated on each towering spires shape by shape, size for size and tone for tone. The left hall of the church is identical with the right half which gives the feeling of repose and order.
Sadly, retro-fittings were made such as plastic canopies and a commercial parking lot within its grounds.
|Details of the cathedral interior|
|The Cathedral's altar under a big dome and stained glass|
|Confessional at the corner of the cathedral|
Unlike other centuries old churches in the Philippines - usually characterized by gray bricks and large bell towers, the cathedral has a distinct pink facade with a rose window and twin square bell towers with pyramidal roofs. The twin spires make the Cathedral a conspicuous direction guide when exploring the city. This beautiful structure is also one of the most photographed buildings in the city.
|Sad scene at the steps going up to the cathedral|
How to get there
The church is located at Cathedral Loop, adjacent to Session Road in Baguio City. From Session Road it is accessible to pedestrians who ascend long concrete stairways of more than a hundred steps, although cars may enter the Cathedral grounds quite easily via access roads behind the Baguio Post Ofice building.
If you do not feel like climbing more than a hundred steps to the Baguio Cathedral, an easy way to get there on foot from Session Road would be to climb the escalators at the CICM-owned Porta Vaga Shopping Mall, exiting at the top floor that leads to the Baguio Cathedral parking grounds. During Sundays and other special holidays of the catholic church, you will find vendors along the stairway and also at the church's open patio selling flowers, balloons, newspapers, sweepstake tickets, candles, rosary beads, and other religious articles.
Visitors desiring to visit Baguio on a tour should avoid coming up to the city during this religious week. Not only is the city crowded with people, it is difficult to find rooms in hotels and inns and the prices of native handicraft, souvenirs, vegetables, flowers, food, and other commodities & services are rather expensive.
Baguio Cathedral is downright astonishing - a must-see exhibit for anyone interested in churches and architecture and a bit of history. This structure is truly a beautiful example of Philippines' religious heritage that is steeped in the saga of our country's illustrious past.
Be it war, famine, upheavals or natural disasters, Baguio Cathedral survived it all. So when visiting this wonderful landmark, bear in mind the incredible history of this church throughout time and the effect it had on so many lives ever since.
Classification 1—Cathedral (F-1907)
Adress: Cathedral Hill, 2600 Baguio City, P.O. Box 55
Tel No. 442-4256
Titular: Immaculate Heart of Mary Sunday after the Feast of the Sacred Heart Parish Priest: Most Rev. Sebastian Dalis, DD
Parochial Vicars: Rev. Fr. Leon Dapiaoen
Rev. Fr. David Ganggangan
Related Articles on this blog:
FAMOUS OLD CHURCHES
References / Citations: [Retrieved: 30 Nov. 2012]
» Baguio Cathedral. Wikipedia Article.
» "Landmarks and Scenic Sites: The City of Baguio" cityofpines.com
» CBCP Online. "Baguio Cathedral Parish Information".
» Gothic Architecture. Wikipedia Article.