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St. John the Baptist Church in Jimenez, Misamis Occidental
Part 13 of the Libotero Northern Mindanao Adventure series.
After saying hello to the dolphins at Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park, we ate late lunch at one local restaurant along the highway. We still had enough time to explore some key destinations so Eric, Marc and I decided to go further North to visit a National Cultural Treasure, the Church of San Juan Bautista in Jimenez, Misamis Occidental.
From Sinacaban, Jimenez is the next town on the north so we boarded the first northbound bus that passed by. Like a lot of colonial churches, this one wasn’t on the main highway so we had to pay close attention to the surroundings. As soon as we saw a massive dome, we knew right away that it was the Church so we asked the bus driver to pull-over. From there, we hired a tricycle to take us to the Church.
Old trees and a wide open field where students spend their afternoons after class.
When I first saw the Church from the outside, it really looked old but simple. I said to myself, I’ve been to better churches. But as the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
The Church facade
Coral stone is the top material that was used during the construction of this Church.
If you plan to visit the Church, do it during daytime so you won’t struggle taking a decent photo of the facade against the light.
The left side of the Church and the belltower
The Church clock, unfortunately, is not functioning anymore. I hope it’ll be included in the Church’s restoration and preservation efforts.
Image of the Virgin Mary on top of the main entrance of the Church.
Stairs leading to the belfry.
But as I took a step inside the Church, I bit my tongue. Oh my, this must be best preserved Church in Mindanao.
The floor tiles have never been replaced since the Church was constructed in the 19th century. And take a look at those wooden pillars!
While taking photos inside the Church, one of the caretakers approached us and I felt nervous. Baka bawal mag-picture! But no, he actually offered to switch on the altar lights so we could take better photos. Thank you!
The main altar and the side altars.
The Gothic-style altar really had nice fine details that were enhanced by the dramatic lighting. I personally think those fluorescent lamps are an eyesore though.
Not contented with my photo of the altar, I asked permission so I could get closer and take a better photo.
An unobstructed photo of the main retablo.
Probably, the best features of this Church can be found on the ceiling.
Take a look at those lovely details and colored glass!
You may think that the paintings on the ceiling are three-dimensional, but no, they’re just flat.
This amazing effect was achieved through the use of “Trompe-l’œil”, a very intensive technique which involves extremely realistic implementation to create an optical illusion that the depicted images are in 3D. This effect can also be seen in Betis Church in Guagua, Pampanga and Dauis Church, Bohol, among others. Literally eye-rolling, yes?
The caretaker was really very accommodating. He even brought us to a small room behind the altar where a mini-museum of sorts can be found.
Stations of the Cross.
Old Church paraphernalia used through the years.
This bell dates back to 1896! Sad to see it’s quite damaged though.
We were informed that the National Commision for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has initiated the rehabilitation and conservation of the Church. I hope that this goes on in the years to come so future generations may still be able to appreciate their heritage, especially that this Church is only one among a few preserved colonial Churches in Mindanao.
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Before we left Jimenez, we spent a few minutes strolling around the poblacion and found a lot of interesting old houses. But this one just got our attention:
An abandoned old high school building. I hope it gets preserved.
(…to be continued)