Aside from the flourishing shoe and sandal industry that made Laguna’s municipality of Liliw famous, hidden on another one of its many alleys is a massive brick church that would make the populcace of any town proud to have in their district, the Lilio or Liliw Church.
The Baroque-styled St. John the Baptist Cathedral was built during the Spanish period, 1605 to be exact. And like most of its kind, earthquakes have rattled and shook its foundation throughout the centuries. One particular quake during 1880 finally took its toll on its posts and lintels and brought it to ruin. It was reconstructed eighteen years later, but was met with yet another disaster, fire scorching a part of it.
Liliw Church entered various renovations, the latest one done last year to restore the its interior to its former old-world glory.
Entering the church grounds, visitors are welcomed by elevated white sculptures of saints that dot the Liliw Church's sprawling grounds. But I actually wasn’t really able to notice all of those as my eyes were firmly glued to the fiery orange facade of the brick cathedral. It simply is massive. I estimated the structure to tower at least sixty feet in height from ground base to its lofty spire.
Inside, the Liliw Church was cool and solemn. Soft afternoon light filtered through its colored glass panes designed with various religious artworks. Faithful kneeling in solemn prayers on wooden benches. Typical church scenes in the Philippines.
Its retablo, recessed a few feet behind the altar features thirteen saints, each encased in their own niche and decorated by gold adornments. Two similar but smaller retablos can be found on the altar’s sides.
Interestingly, the church's pulpit where sermons were usually delivered in olden times looked restored. I'm just not sure if it is still being used today during mass as the custom of delivering sermons has long since been changed.
I would have loved to find out more about Liliw church from its own people but we have another stop left before leaving Laguna. Nagcarlan’s Underground Cemetery closes quite early and the day was getting older by the minute. I only got to spend a few minutes inside Liliw’s St. John the Baptist church, but it’s alright, I know this is not the last time I’d be visiting this house of worship.