Mindanao, which is really known more for its Islamic religion than Christianity, still holds a few good relics of the Christian faith. One of these can be found at Dipolog City, a cathedral named after the Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.
It was a classic afternoon; there was a cool slight breeze blowing across the town plaza. Kids were horsing around a grassy patch near the playground and streams of golden afternoon light filter down through the leaves of old trees overhead. We marched along the almost deserted street of Dipolog City and entered a square where the city’s regal cathedral stood.
The façade is clad in rough yellowish cream stones cut and laid in bricks. Arches define the elevation of the cathedral, the largest one caving in to smaller arches that congregates to the church’s doorway. More arches echo along the front of the church, framing windows, stained glasses and the central belfry above the massive structure.
Everything looked beautifully grand, but it somehow felt like a faux grandness. I was expecting an old church, something that looked like it came from the 1800’s, not a structure from the recent decades. Upon further investigation, I found what I was looking for.
Off the sides of Dipolog Cathedral, remnants of its original make can still be seen. Rough and unpainted adobe stones still line the walls of the church. Local stones, quarried from the nearby hills form buttresses and arches. It would’ve been nicer if the parish had preserved the authenticity of the cathedral by not covering its history with flashier facades.
With these thoughts lingering in my mind, I entered the church vestibule and forgot everything.
The interior of Dipolog Cathedral is simply jaw-dropping. The walls are smooth white with brown ornate wood trimmings of various shapes and sizes. The ceiling over the nave is replete with exquisitely carved wooden panels that stretch from the entrance to the altar with carvings of four evangelists about a third of the way.
The ceiling is an authentic part of the original church which was built in 1896 and is made of Narra. The craftsmanship and details are simply astounding.
Not to be outdone, the floors of the church also displays details not found on modern house of praises. Inlaid with decorative tiles of maroon and green hues, each tile resonates with circular patterns and designs that reminds me of the Mediterranean-styled Machucha tiles used in the old Malabon Church.
But the real star of the show is the Dipolog Cathedral’s altar. The central retablo is designed by none other than our country’s National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal during his exile in Mindanao. It was said that the style is derived from the four-century old neo-classical San Ignacio Church which now lay in ruins inside Manila’s Intramuros.
Writing about Dipolog Cathedral, I can’t help but wonder how the church looked before its modern transformation. I stumbled upon pictures of the old church at the Mind/Works blog, and was dismayed to see how massive the current transformation of the church is; it doesn’t even resemble its original façade. On a standpoint of grandeur and beauty, I would agree that the current incarnation of the cathedral looks better than its original, but would you really want to cover the honesty of history with glossy make-up? Give me authentic history over beauty anytime.
Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish
Address: Padre Ramon St., Brgy. Estaka, Dipolog City
Telephone: (065) 212-4475 | (065) 212-3258
Mass Schedule: Click Here
GPS Location: 8.586111,123.34538
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here