Friday, November 14, 2014
Old Spanish Church Ruins of Pudtol, Apayao
Apayao is one of the least visited provinces by tourist in the Philippines because little is known about its attractions. Thanks to travel bloggers who spent time exploring this side of the Cordilleras to share to the world what Apayao has to offer. This year, we finally got the chance to visit Apayao and hopefully we can find something worth sharing on our blog.
The ruins of the old Spanish church in the town of Pudtol are just some of the heritage attractions of the province. In the town of Pudtol alone, there are two of such church ruins. There might be others only known to the locals. From Tuguegarao City, we drove north to Junction Luna, the main gateway to Apayao province. It took us almost three hours drive to reach the town of Pudtol.
We visited the old Spanish church ruins located at the town center, right at the back of the Pudtol Municipal Hall and beside the public school and the new church. According to several online sources, this church was built in the 1600's in an effort by the Spanish missionaries to Christianize the Isnegs, the indigenous people of Apayao. The Isnegs resisted the foreign religion and staged attacks on the church structure. The church was then later on abandoned.
What is now left of the original structure are portions of the side and back walls and the main altar section. The structure is now converted into a garden chapel with an altar devoted to the Our Lady of Lourdes.
We took a closer look at the ruins to inspect the condition of the structure and to try to see if efforts are being made to preserve it. We noticed peculiar markings on the ceiling of the altar that resemble stems, leaves and flowers. The stems were painted black while the leaves and petals of the flowers were painted red.
Portions of these paintings on the ceiling have already faded, but some are still vivid. We're not really sure if these paintings were made at the same time when the church was built, or were they added decades or even centuries after the church was abandoned.
One thing for sure is that these paintings are not new. The extent of their fading suggest that they are at least 100 to 150 years old. The brownish hue of the red paint used on the leaves and petals also suggests that a natural dye is used. The color actually matches the red stains on the floor left by "moma" spittle after chewing betel nut. Of course these are just guesses and we don't claim expertise on this subject matter.
Most importantly, we hope that highlighting these ornamental marking on the ceiling of the old church ruins in Pudtol will somehow get the attention of heritage scholars or conservation experts who can determine the significance of these paintings.
How to get to Pudtol, Apayao
From Manila, you can take a Florida bus going to Junction Luna (12-14 hours). Alternatively, you can take a 1-hour flight to Laoag (Ilocos Norte) or Tuguegarao (Cagayan Province) and take a local bus or van going to Junction Luna (3-5 hours). From Junction Luna, you can take a jeepney or tricycle going to Pudtol town proper (30mins). The old Spanish church is located at the back of the Municipal Hall of Pudtol, within the school grounds and beside the new parish church.
If you are a big group coming from Tuguegarao City, you can hire a private van (contact Kuya JR 0935-3312978) for a more comfortable and cost effective travel. Pudtol is just 3 hours drive away from Tuguegarao. On the way back to Tuguegarao, you can visit the centuries old churches of Cagayan along the national highway. As of October 2014, van rental costs P2,700 plus ~P1,000 diesel.