Imagine the world black & white, you actually can’t. Unless you are a Lady Gaga avant-garde fan?
One of the things that I noticed is the Ivatans’ love of color. Color speaks of the celebration of life, it was vibrant and joyful.
Here are some of the churches that caught my eyes while touring the islands of Batan and Sabtang:
The Golden Yellow Basco Cathedral
The oldest church you can find in the province originally built in 1783 with cogon grass roof by Fathers Baltazar Calderon and Bartolome Artiguez under the patronage of St. Dominique de Guzman. Renovation is on-going when we visited it.
The Bright White Mahatao Church
Four years after the Sto.Domingo de Basco church was established the Church of Mahatao was erected (1787) under the patronage of San Carlos Borromeo. This church is historic because the Katipunans raised their flag on the belfry, September 19, 1898.
The Beige Ivana Church
Built the almost the time as that of Mahatao Church, 1787. In 1790, three years after the church was established, Governor Guererro (probably the governor of Batanes) decreed that the Ivatans leave their idjangs. Idjang refers to the mountain fortress, where the natives of the island live. They were also ordered to dress like the other Filipinos, meaning wear clothes like that of the Spaniards.
Among all the churches we visited, this particular church fascinated me. The color is just secondary. Maybe because I saw church ruins at the back of it. According to history, the first towns of Batanes are Basco and Ivana. Mahatao is administered by Basco; Uyugan and Sabtang Island under Ivana. Meaning, these twin towns are the center of commerce, much like Makati CBD and Ortigas CBD.
A Little Thought About the Town of Ivana
Spanish controlled town like that of Ivana means that the Church would be central to the people’s lives, this springs up from the belief that God should be the center of one’s life. So the church building on the center of the town just makes sense. Notice too that all city centers in the Philippines are with a massive Church, (Binondo, Cebu, Iloilo, Intramuros, Malolos, etc.).
At first I thought that people were actually migrating to Ivana because it was the center of trading, education and religion but I was wrong. History would tell us that the locals of Sabtang Island were forced to live in Ivana following the revolt of Aman Dangat against the Spanish forces in 1791. This made the towns of Ivana and Basco flourish richly because it was filled with people, more people mean more taxes. This continued until 1844 when the original Sabtang inhabitants went back to their home town.
The Cream Sabtang Church
Built in 1785, but was abandoned when the inhabitants was forcedly relocated to Ivana (see above discussion). The church is undergoing major interior renovation when we visited it. It is also jam-packed with people on Sunday masses, a testimony of the Ivatan’s faith and belief in God.
The Pink Uyugan Church
This is my fave church- kikay and cozy. Yeah, I wan’t to call it the “Kikay Church.” But wait, it is “kikay” from the inside out.
Photo credit of pink church interior: King Leon
The Gray Chavayan Chapel
Among all the churches I saw, this one should be preserved. Notice the cogon grass roof of Sta. Rosa de Lima Chapel found in the old town of Chavayan. Chavayan is also the town where you see the best preserved stone houses, almost synonymous when you mention the province of Batanes.
The Gray & Red Tukon Chapel
I wasn’t able to take a photo of the chapel as I was asleep (reason on the post: Chill time with the Ivatans). My camera battery was also drained, so lesson learned.
Tukon Church (Photo credit: Yoodz/Eugene on Flickr)
So, there are at least seven colorful Catholic churches is Batanes, five in Batan and two in Sabtang Island. Maybe it would be a good “Visita Iglesia” destination next year? Make plans now!
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Visit Batanes is a 9-part series that paints the unfading beauty of Batanes, her citizens, churches, culture and cuisine. Posts are filled with photos that will surely convince readers to be thrilled in islands ata northernmost part of the Philippines. Come! Explore Batanes!
Visit Batanes Series: Colorful Churches / Sabong at Diura Fishing Village / Lola Ida and the House of Dakay / Surviving the Faluwa Ride / Quotes & Reflections at the Honesty Café / Chill Time with the Ivatans / Snapshots from Sabtang Island / 10 Must-Try Foods / Accommodations in Batanes