Plaridel Church

Plaridel Church
Church of Santiago Apostol in Plaridel, Bulacan, 2014 (John Leonard S. Puso)

Roman Catholic Parish Church of Santiago Apostol / Location: Plaridel, Bulacan / Built 18th century

Santiago Apostol Church, also known as Plaridel Church or Quingua Church, is a 15th-century Roman Catholic Church under the patronage of Saint James the Apostle and is located along Gov. Padilla street, Brgy. Poblacion, in Plaridel, Bulacan, Philippines. In 1961, a historical marker was installed on the church by the National Historical Committee (precursor of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines).


Plaridel, previously known as Quingua, already existed prior to 1599 when it was annexed to Malolos. Then, the settlement was located in Lumang Bayan, a barangay of present-day Plaridel. The first Augustinian friar to serve in Lumang Bayan was Fr Pedro Vasquez (1580-95), who built the earlier church at Lumang Bayan. In 1936, Quingua was renamed Plaridel after Marcelo H. del Pilar, the great propangandist who hailed from the province. Plaridel is del Pilar’s pen name.

In 1602, it was made a vicariate under the supervision of the Augustinian Father Provincial. For many years, it was annexed to Malolos as a visita (mission chapel). The town was officially founded as a Spanish pueblo in 1605 when it was accepted as a house of the Augustinian order during a council meeting on 30 April of that year. In the same year, the town site was transferred from Lumang Bayan to where it is presently found. Fr Diego Pardo had spiritual charge of the town. From the 1620s, it had its own resident priest in response to the request of its residents. The Augustinian house of Quingua was exempted from paying rent to the San Agustin Monastery from 1640 to 1704, primarily because the convent was very poor. In 1771, the parish was given to the secular clergy after the secularization decree, but was returned to the Augustinians in 1778. The present town of Baliuag, which then included Bustos, was a visita of Quingua until 1732 when Baliuag became independent. The residents of Plaridel supported themselves through farming and shoemaking.

During the British occupation of 1762 to 1764, the Augustinian Province transferred some of the orders’ jewels and money plus official records from San Agustin in Intramuros to Plaridel’s convent for safekeeping. By the end of the 19th century, Plaridel was under the administration of the secular clergy. The Filipino parish priest Fr Victorino Lopez joined the revolutionaries as an officer under Capt Jose Serapio of Santa Maria. In 1899, the church and convento were comandeered by the Americans and used as a hospital and barracks. It was also in Plaridel where the famous Battle of Quingua in 1899 took place. A prominent figure in the Philippine-American War, Col John Stotsenberg, was killed in that battle.

At the present townsite, Fr Tomas Quijano built in 1722 a church and convent of strong materials, following the framework of the previous structures which were previously destroyed, possibly by fire. The church was burned in 1772 and was immediately rebuilt. It was damaged during the 1863 earthquake but was repaired the same year.

The present church is baroque in style, with noticeable mudejar elements, like the trefoil arches, which embellish the facade and the retablos inside the church. Although the recent addition of a concrete porte cochere in front of the facade has obscured the original features of the church, the unique pediment of the building still stands out. It has an onion-shaped silhouette, reminiscent of the domes of mosques and churches of the Eastern Orthodox Church. This shape is achieved by a pair of volutes that define the otherwise semicircular pediment. Beginning at the apex, which is the base for a cross, the volutes descend to the sides and terminate in curls that bulge out beyond the tops of the twin columns that define the boundaries of the lower sections. The pediment has a rose window flanked on both sides by insets of vases with flowers, cherub heads, and the Augustinian coat of arms.

The two lower stories of the church are divided vertically by twin pillars. The first story’s central section is much wider than the flanking sections. In the central section is the church’s entrance, which has a trefoil arch. On the two sides are niches with statues. The second-story windows are placed directly above the niches and entrance on the ground level. Attached to the church on the gospel side is a five-tiered bell tower, crowned by a cone-shaped dome. The base of the tower is quadrilateral while the upper four stories are octagonal but of diminishing sizes, reminiscent of Chinese pagodas. The bell tower has blind and open fenestrations with balusters.

Not far from the church, in the midst of modern houses, is the Spanish-era simborio (dome), the mortuary chapel of the town’s old cemetery.

From 2011 to 2013, following extensive research, the church ceiling was painted with the images of Christ, Mary, and the 12 apostles in the trompe l’oeil style, while the two rose windows were exposed after decades of being covered by adobe. Meanwhile, palitada (primer) was applied on the upper portion of the capitals on the church facade. The church was marked by the Philippines Historical Committee in 1961.


Santiago Apostol Church, also known as Plaridel Church or Quingua Church, is a 15th-century Roman Catholic Church under the patronage of Saint James the Apostle and is located along Gov. Padilla street, Brgy. Poblacion, in Plaridel, Bulacan, Philippines. In 1961, a historical marker was installed on the church by the National Historical Committee (precursor of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines).

The present stone and brick church is barn-style Baroque mixed with Moorish ornamentation. The first level of the façade consists of a main trefoil arch doorway flanked by two niches of saints. The second level, with its three windows, is plainly adorned by four pairs of pillars. The pointed arch shaped pediment (resembling a minaret), on the other hand, is richly ornamented with carvings of cherubs, saints and other embellishments surrounding the oculus or rose window. At the peak of the pediment is a carving of the pierced heart of Jesus. Attached to left of the façade is the five-storey bell tower with a quadrilateral base and octagonal upper levels and topped by a cone-shaped dome. There are five bells in the belfry, the biggest of which is dedicated to Nuestra Senora de la Consolación.

St. James’ Salubong Festival

A fiesta for horse lovers is the popular two-day celebration called “Pintakasi ng mga Caballero” held before New Year’s Eve in Plaridel, Bulacan. Its main attraction, however, is held on Dec. 29 a colorful parade of cocheros, jockeys and other equine aficionados, followed by a tilbury race (horse-drawn chariots for two), whose participants include movie stars (particularly members of the clan of the late former Bulacan Governor Jose Padilla, I), luminaries of the province and government officials.

This annual celebrationa delight to both local and foreign tourists turned 400 years old last December. It is actually the traditional feast of San Tiago Mata Moros in Plaridel town.

Multitudes of devotees, who are joined by tourists, flock to Plaridel every year either to witness or participate in this colorful ritual in honor of San Tiago, or St. James the Apostle, who has been depicted as a horse rider. San Tiago is considered the unofficial patron of cocheros and jockeys.

St. James the Apostle is the cousin of Christ. His image, portrayed riding on a white horse trampling upon pagan figures, is brought in a procession from its “home” in Barangay Sipat and transferred to the Parish Church.

Fiesta organizers dub the ritual preceded by an early morning mass on Dec. 29 at the chapel of Barangay Sipat as, “the traditional salubong.” Featured are race studs and the patient horses of caritelas and tilburies with their owners seeking blessing during the translacion or transfer of their patron saint.

The procession is called salubong because San Tiago’s image tailed by groups of faithful including elderly women wearing kimona’t saya and buntal hats performing a ritual dance is met by the patron’s other devotees halfway from Sipat to Plaridel Parish Church, in the town’s poblacion.

Local officials and national figures often join the devotees’ seven-kilometer trek to the parish church. In the past celebration, Tourism Secretary Gemma Cruz Araneta; DOTC Sec. Vicente Rivera Jr., who hails from Plaridel; Former Bulacan Governor Josie Dela Cruz; and former Bulacan Vice Governor Willie Villarama, this town’s “adopted son”, led the procession.

The image stays inside the parish to give time for the faithful to pay their respects until the following day, Dec. 30, when the image is again carried in a procession around the poblacion. After 14 days, when the fiesta celebration is over, the image, in another simple procession accompanied by fiesta organizers and town officials, will be returned to the Sipat Chapel, popularly known as “Hatid”.

“Salubong” ritual dates back to the time of Spanish friars who established the town’s parish church in 1580, making St. James patron saint of the town. according to a local book of the town’s history, the original image of St. James on a white horse brought to Plaridel (then Quingua) by the Spaniards in the 1800s was left in the care of the family of Bernardo Sampana a rebel heathen of Sepoy ancestry who became a Christian convert. The image was housed in their home at Barrio Tabang. Then the Sampanas were ordered by the friars to turn over the said image to the possession of the owners of the Bahay na Bato in Barrio Sipat (which was renamed Santiago), because of the townsfolk’s claim that the family was allegedly practicing sorcery.

When the owners of Bahay na Bato died, the image became the possession of Tandang Sitang whose house was eventually turned into a barrio chapel, present home to San Tiago’s image in Sipat.

San Tiago, or St. James the Apostle, was a Galilean and brother of St. John the Evangelist. He was ordered killed by Herod Agrippa, King of Judea in 41 A.D. A history book of Philip Van Ness says the tomb of St. James was found in Northern Spain in 718 A.D. Thirty years after that, a war between the Spaniards and the Moors broke out. When the Spaniards were in near defeat, an apparition of St. James, armed with a sword and riding a white horse, appeared “as bright as a star” in the thick of the battle.

The apparition gave life to the demoralized Spanish soldiers and led them to victory over the Moors, who in turn were bedazzled by the blinding image of St. James. This “miracle” probably explains why St. James became patron saint of those who have affinity with horses, like the devotees flocking every year to the colorful Plaridel ritual.

SOURCE: Manila News-Intellegencer

Originally posted 2000-11-22 21:10:17.