Tayum Church

Tayum Church
Church of Santa Catalina de Alejandria in Tayum, Abra, 2004 (Photo by Betty Lalana and Lino Arboleda, Ortigas Foundation Library Collection)

Roman Catholic Parish Church of Santa Catalina de Alejandria / Location: Tayum, Abra / Started 1824

Tayum was made a visita (mission chapel) of Bangued, a few kilometers downriver, in 1626. A provisional church is said to have been built here in 1669 by an Augustinian missionary, a possible indication that the place had not yet been taken over by the seculars. Tayum was already a town by 1725, but the creation of its parish was to take place only in 1803.

A church was begun in 1824, according to a report sent to the mayor of Ilocos Sur. The first three stories of the bell tower must have been up by 1869, the date on the earlier of two bells in the belfry. Like the church in Bangued, these structures were built under the supervision of the secular priests. Both Tayum and Bangued were turned over to the Augustinians in 1892.

The church of Tayum follows the typical basilica plan of many Philippine religious structures. Like most colonial edifices in northern Philippines, it is built of brick—the walls were formerly plastered but are now cemented over in most areas. Originally, only the portion over the sanctuary was covered with galvanized iron sheets. The rest of the roof was of thatch, which had to be changed every year. This may account for the two-step buttresses projecting from the outer walls of the nave just before the apse. Shrines of masonry for the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) are distributed around the churchyard.

The facade is simply ornamented with three levels of classical architectural elements, but the configuration of the pediment gives it individuality. As a formal part, it is relatively undefined since it incorporates both third and second levels, emanating from an apex whose design is the only one of its kind in the country over. The facade, in effect, is an assemblage of Doric capitals, engaged columns, and cornices arranged more for pictorial than for “logical” concerns. Interesting decorative devices include the finials which appear on the upper portions of the facade and the rear of the church like gigantic versions of the burnay, the Ilocano earthenware storage jar.

Inside is a large central retablo flanked by two smaller ones. All are of plastered brick. The classical architectural elements used are similar to the brick altars of BacarraLaoagPaoay, San Nicolas, and Sarrat in Ilocos Norte. Interesting again are the proportions of these elements in relation to each other. Most noticeable are the entablatures supporting the pediments, which are too heavy and thick for the engaged columns on which they rest. In the baptistry, on the ground level of the bell tower, is a wooden baptismal font. It is still intact with its cover and exuberantly worked with winged angels’ heads and floral designs, a rare and excellent example of early Abra Christian carving.

SOURCE: Manila News-Intellegencer (1991)

Originally posted 2010-11-23 01:28:45.