This is part of my Semana Santa series where I feature rituals and traditions observed in certain places during this solemn week in the Catholic calendar. Click on the image at the right to check the rest of the articles.
Across the country’s Catholic churches are full of the faithful busy making the visita iglesia, the via crucis, confessions and after the 3 PM activities, typically the Sieta Palabras and reenactments of the death of Christ, the people venerate the cross and join the procession.
In Argao and Carcar, historic and old towns in Cebu, the experience becomes more heightened because of the piety and devotion of the townsfolk as well as the atmosphere of being in old churches, is just something that makes it all unforgettable.
Both town have churches, considered National Cultural treasures built during the Spanish colonial era, with Argao, one of the oldest in the country having been built in the 18th century. It is one of the best examples of baroque architecture in Cebu and the country only to be marred by a former parish priests painting of the centuries old retablo with gold. It is also one of only three churches with a capilla possa, small chapels at its front.
Carcar Church on the other hand is a 19th century structure that has beautifully integrated neoclassical and baroque elements together with its touches of Muslim inspired architecture like the domes of the twin belfries and the iwan like main entrance. Its interior is breathtaking with the only existing coffered ceiling, in wood, in the country.
In lieu of the cross being venerated in Argao, Carcar has the image of the Santo Intierro, or the Christ in state with people wiping their kerchiefs or hand and pressing it on their chests or other body parts with pain or affliction.
But for the keen observer, the veneration is a health worker’s nightmare with everyone kissing on the various parts of the image or of the cross, it can be a reason for the transmission of diseases. But then again, it is the faith of these people that make them do these.