We thank you Lord for this gift of talent and artistry which we are able to share to the world. Happy Easter everyone!
Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, churches will be filled to capacity. It is a momentous event in the whole of Christendom. If there is one set of images in my collection that I enjoy going through over and over again, it is my photographs of Philippine churches – venerable venues of the Lord’s flock. Church structures, with their details, designs and architecture, will enthrall any photographer.
The most interesting churches are the historic ones, centuries-old structures, and there are many of them all over the country. Four of these churches are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites “Baroque Churches in the Philippines.” One of these is pictured above – the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church in the town of Miag-ao in the province of Iloilo. Every time I get to visit the province, I make it a point to go to this famous church which is some 40 kilometers south of Iloilo City. The online site of the UNESCO World Heritage List gives a description:
The Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva stands on the highest point of Miag-ao, its towers serving as lookouts against Muslim raids. It is the finest surviving example of ‘Fortress Baroque’. The sumptuous facade epitomizes the Filipino transfiguration of western decorative elements, with the figure of St Christopher on the pediment dressed in native clothes, carrying the Christ Child on his back, and holding on to a coconut palm for support. The entire riotously decorated facade is flanked by massive tapering bell towers of unequal heights.
The Augustinian mission station of Miag-ao became an independent parish in 1731, when a simple church and convento (parish house) were built. However, destruction of the town by Moslem pirates in 1741 and 1754 led to the town being rebuilt in a more secure location. The new church, constructed in 1787-97, was built as a fortress, to withstand further incursions. It was, however, damaged severely by fire on two occasions – during the revolution against Spain in 1898 and in World War II.
A photographic urge is like a bodily itch, there is only one immediate solution – scratch. In a photographic situation, you can’t help it, you have to take a snap and hope for the best.
I have been to dozens of churches in the Philippines and they are some of my most favorite photo subjects. The older, bigger and more elaborate the church structure, the better. But there are many modern ones that catch my eye, with their attractive geometric designs. Like the above church interior when I was in Cebu City. It was the first time for me to see this particular church and as I entered its door the Mass had just started. It was filled with people and the first thing that struck me was the ceiling design above the altar. I did not want to attract attention and disturb the solemnity of the proceedings so I slowly took out the point and shoot on my belt pouch, turned it on, raised it and took a one-handed snap, all under five seconds. Some people saw me and gave disapproving looks. I bowed my head, closed my eyes and prayed for two things: apology from the Lord above, and hope that I had a good shot. The above picture was the answer. Though patience is an endearing trait of the photographer, there are times when the urge gets the better of him and he just has to take a snap, foregoing all processes of thought and forgetting all about composition. This is not an ideal situation for a thinking photographer. Yet sometimes, there is that rare moment when the photographer leaves it all to divine providence.
Today’s photographers think differently. Many can’t see real light anymore. They think only in terms of strobe – sure, it all looks beautiful but it’s not really seeing. If you have the eyes to see it, the nuances of light are already there on the subject’s face. If your thinking is confined to strobe light sources, your palette becomes very mean – which is the reason I photograph only in available light.~Alfred Eisenstaedt
Wishing you all a Blessed Weekend!
O Lord, make me an instrument of your Peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light, and
Where there is sorrow, joy.
~St. Francis of Assisi
Even slight changes in subject approach can make significant differences in the effect of the picture.~Andreas Feininger