ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE | Dipolog Cathedral

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Modern Facade of Dipolog Cathedral

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.

Unadorned Adobe Stones at the sides of Dipolog CathedralEverything 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 Intricate Interior of Dipolog CathedralThe 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.

Dipolog Cathedral Ceiling DetailThe 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.

Ornate Tiles of Dipolog CathedralNot 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.

The Rizal Designed Retablo of Dipolog CathedralBut 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.

Dipolog Cathedral InteriorWriting 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.

Dipolog Location Map

Dipolog Cathedral
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

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  1. I would love to know the side of those who made the extreme changes to the facade. I'm assuming there were consultations done with experts or decisions that were hard to make but had to be done anyway like technical stuff that would ensure caring for what's left. The sad thing nga lang is if it was done at the expense of heritage. As it is when I saw the photo on Facebook, the combo of bizarre elements had me so interested.

    1. I'm not 100% sure since even our guide wasn't able to tell, but I think the main reason was to beautify the church facade.

  2. Nice cathedral in Zamboanga Peninsula no less, which I can say this one outstand the rests. I am near ZaNorte yet I have yet to visit this place. Nice capture Christian :)

    Impressive write up too :)

  3. yeah, cathedrals always look decorative and ornate. i have seen some in italy, france and other countries. the older ones have more history and culture, but sometimes remodeling might be necessary, especially if the building is so old that it is falling apart. so, they renew it so more people are able to use it and enjoy it, whether locals or tourists.

  4. I have to agree with you. I love the textures of old stone and wood, and the feel of history that they give. This church is lovely, but sad too.

    1. Sayang diba. These things happen without people knowing the real value of their heritage, education I guess is the key for these things not to happen again

  5. nakakalula yung laki ng church. ang ganda ng church. convince ko yung friends ko don sila pakasal kasi taga dipolog yung babae

  6. thanks for this post, love the facade, ceiling, & floors. though I share your view of authentic history over beauty.

    if the church needs major renovation or rebuilding for safety and maximum accommodation, facade can be turn into church gate

  7. hi christian, congratz u did justice to the beauty of my old hometown, dipolog through ur amazing n superb photography n beautiful poetic descriptions, let me guess canon or nikon dslr? let it be canon, thats my fave camera, penfires posted ur link so that i can see dipolog cause i have been asking her to go visit my hometown, i am a bit homesick thats why, tyvm for ur great efforts. the church is magnificent now, but i agree with u our parish should have preserved the authentic beauty of the cathedral that i have known n loved. i still dream of that old passageway at the side entrance where we used to venture as kids and it will probably haunt me forever. i will never forget the old beautiful church that i know. god bless u always... me from dipolog

    1. Thank you for the kind words. Nikon or Canon, it really doesn't matter, as long as the camera takes pictures, then I'm all okay with it :)