June 14, 2014

Philippines: Mt Pinatubo all but buried this church!

In June 1991 Mt Pinatubo awakened from its 500-year slumber and erupted on the island of Luzon in the Philippines killing 800 and displacing 100,000. Today it’s a picturesque crater that people come to hike to.

But last week I was in the province of Pampanga and visited the church that was all but swallowed up by the 6 metre high lahar that oozed through town burying everything in its wake in 1995.

San Guillermo, Philippines

The new “upper” entrance to San Guillermo

San Guillermo, the parish church of Bacolor, is still a place of worship, only now you enter through what was formerly the upper windows where saints once stood and the bell tower on your left is only 5 steps above the floor.

San Guillermo, Philippines

Facing the altar with the bell tower just to my left

San Guillermo, Philippines

Standing under Jesus

The rafters look oddly low, I noticed when I walked in, before I knew the story. And taking a tour into the trancepts you see what were once windows now openings on the floor leading into prayer rooms and onto the street where cars now park under trees whose roots are still buried several metres below ground.

San Guillermo, Philippines

Walk past the blonde, blue-eyed crying Mary into the prayer rooms and galleries

Originally built by Augustine friars in 1576, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1880 and rebuilt in 1886 (take note Christchurch!) and the altar excavated after the lahar by the local community who also managed to salvage many statues and artefacts.

San Guillermo, Philippines

Images of the church before and after the lahar. Those windows in the left are at street level.

About Megan Singleton

Megan

Megan Singleton is a travel writer, blogger and radio correspondent. She's been gallivanting around the world telling stories for the last 16 years and has her suitcase always half packed (or half un-packed!) Follow along on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want to keep up with the journey!

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