Magsingal Church

Magsingal Church
Church of San Guillermo Ermitaño in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur, 2012 (Shubert Ciencia)

Roman Catholic Parish of San Guillermo Ermitaño Church Complex / Location: Magsingal, Ilocos Sur / Earlier church (now in ruins) and tower, built 1730s; present church built from 1827; old convento built about 1876

Magsingal, officially the Municipality of Magsingal (Ilocano: Ili ti Magsingal; Tagalog: Bayan ng Magsingal) is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Ilocos Sur, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 30,792 people.

The early settlers of Magsingal may have been the Itneg, probably the managsinggal or wanderers referred to by the Ilocanos. The place is possibly the encomienda of Bantay mentioned as early as 1591. Throughout the Spanish era, Magsingal was administered spiritually by the Augustinians. Although Magsingal was separated from Bantay in 1676, and a church and bell tower were built in 1692 and almost completed by 1695, its status as a parish does not seem to have stabilized until 1723. A church is said to have been built in 1730, and a bell tower in 1732. This is the church whose ruins stand north of the present church, its side walls propped up by step buttresses. The separate bell tower and church apse are of cut stone blocks, while the facade, nave walls, and step buttresses are of brick. Buttresses ending in volutes flanking the facade are of rubblework. Destroyed by an earthquake, this church was replaced by the present brick church, whose foundations were laid on 21 January 1827. Community funds were used to support its construction. The brick school east of the tower is said to have been built at this time. According to oral tradition, it housed liturgical services until the church could be used. The church was possibly repaired in 1848, when Magsingal was briefly under the secular clergy. Fr Jose Vasquez, OSA, last Spanish Augustinian of Magsingal in 1865-98, renovated the church; he built the stone and brick convento in 1876. The sacristy roof was rehabilitated in 2009-10, while the church ceiling was replaced in 2010-12.

The facade of the present church is in neoclassic style typically divided into three levels, in turn divided into three bays. All three levels of the central bay are flanked by paired tuscan columns. The baroque retablo and pulpit, said to be by Juan Nepumuceno Tolentino, a native of Magsingal, and Pablo Tamayo, respectively, provide a surprise upon entering the neoclassic temple. Both are said to have been erected in 1827, although they could have been retrieved from the older church. The church complex is bordered by brick shrines for the Stations of the Cross. The parish church of San Guillermo Ermitaño, along with its baroque woodwork, convento, ruins, tower, school, and Via Crucis was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines on 31 July 2001.

Magsingal‘s 3-storey, cream and white Church of St. William of Aquitaine, the town’s second, was built in 1827, restored in 1848 and again by Fr. Jose Vasquez. Its Neo-Classical facade, built within a light wall frame and supported by steep and imposing buttresses (like other Ilocos churches), is divided into 3 levels.

The first level has a semicircular arched portal flanked by two statued niches and topped by triangular canopies between paired and single Tuscan columns. A rectangular piece, atop the main entrance’s keystone, contains the Augustinian symbol.

The second level, a repeat of the first, has a large semicircular window at the center flanked by two windows with triangular pediments, with all 3 having baluster shafts. The third level has a single, semicircular niche (with the statue of St. William the Hermit) flanked by two occoli (small circular windows). The elaborate curvilinear pediment ends up in finials. Its tympanum also has a circular window

The church is linked to the 2-storey convent/school by a capiz window-lined upper corridor mounted over two arches.

The nearby 30-m. high, 4-level octagonal brick bell tower, with blind and real semicircular arched fenestration of various sizes, was allegedly built in 1692 and finished by Fr. Pedro Berger (parish priest from 1824 to 1829).

On July 31, 2001, it was one of the Philippine colonial churches declared by the National Museum as a National Cultural Treasure and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) had identified and selected it as one of 26 Spanish Colonial Era churches to be under its conservation program.

Inside are the most important examples of Baroque-influenced art in the Ilocos notably the ornate Baroque reredos made of molave (which contain no nails), a choir loft, molave columns, a well-preserved retablo (a total seascape) and an incomparable pulpit.

Atop the topmost niche (housing the statue of St. William) of the retablo are two nude mermaids. It is said that the sculptor, Nepomuceno Tolentino, a Magsingal native, used his pregnant wife as a model for the pregnant mermaids.The whole retablo is topped by a clam shell and the ceiling of the niches are also in clam shell form. On the sides are Classically designed seahorses, above which are big waves (with moderate forms of starfishes on their hold) accented with smaller waves.

The richly-carved main altar features Salomonic columns adorned with plant motifs. The pulpit has a statue of a boy with a tambuli or native horn, both made by a certain Pablo Tamayo, a talented Magsingal fisherman. He also designed the choir loft.

Commencing from the church and linking various streets are the 14 stone shrines of the Via Crusis (Way of the Cross).

SOURCE: Manila News-Intellegencer


Originally posted 2000-11-22 04:23:04.