Pudtol Church

Pudtol Church
Church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario ruins in Pudtol, Apayao, 2007 (Shubert Ciencia)

Roman Catholic Parish Church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario and Capinatan Church ruins / Location: Pudtol, Apayao / Both built under the direction of Fr Pedro Gimenez, OP, 1670s-80s

Inhabitants of the northernmost reaches of Cagayan were referred to in early 17th century documents as the Mandaya, a native name meaning “those up above.” The Dominicans ministered among these people beginning in the early 1600s, with pioneer missions in Pata (now Namuac, Sanchez-Mira), Cabicungan (Claveria), and Abulug. Further up the Abulug or Apayao River they founded Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Fotol in 1610 and its visita (mission chapel) San Lorenzo de Capinatan in 1619. The word fotol is said to derive from the local word for “behead” or “cut off,” while Capinatan is traced to pinat, “plain.” Despite interruptions in evangelization due to tribal rivalries and the lack of missionaries, the Mandaya were able to construct stone churches in these two communities. Credit for the impetus in these projects is given to Fr Pedro Gimenez, OP, vicar of Fotol in 1673-77 and 1684-90. The Apayao missions virtually disappeared from 18th century records and were only revived in 1890. It seems Fotol was re-established as a parish in 1949, with Capinatan still its visita.

A significant section of the church at Fotol, now Pudtol, has survived to our day. According to soldiers’ tales, the meter-thick walls of mamposteria, or rubblework, grew by four finger-lengths every night without the aid of masons. The church consists of a single nave with a narrower presbytery and an extension serving as a sacristy. Of great artistic importance is the impressive stone barrel vault in the apse, with spaces in the walls that previously held wooden bas-reliefs, and with traces of black-and-white murals depicting leaves and tendrils. The facade in Tuscan style, featuring a five-meter high arched main portal and two small towers flanking it, as well as most of the eight buttresses supporting both sides of the nave at every five meters, have sadly disappeared since they were observed by the Dominican historian Julian Malumbres in the 1890s.

The smaller river-stone church and convento at Capinatan, now Matagisi, are largely intact, though roofless. On its facade can be barely made out a bas-relief of the Dominican seal, flanked by what seem to be banners and borne by as yet unidentifiable creatures. The settlement used to be protected by a palisaded fort dedicated to San Jose.

SOURCE: Manila News-Intellegencer

Originally posted 2000-11-22 21:16:50.