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Argao Church
Province:  Cebu
09° 52.907N   123° 36.497E
Listed in Gallery:   Old Church

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Church of San Miguel Arcangel of Argao

Description:
Of all the church facades, it is Argao church that is the most decorated, most rococo. It is also the second oldest church of the island and one of the oldest in the country. The semi-circular arched entrance is flanked by columns on rectangular pedestals decorated with spread eagles and Corinthian capitals. The panels are crowded with relief designs. The small rectangular relief on top of the main door represents the Augustinian symbol and a window with balustradesis crowned by a small statue of San Miguel the Archangel.

The original Argao Parish as founded and constructed in May 17, 1734 by Fr. Ignacio de Olave, Argao?s first parish priest. The church has magnificent painted roof inside, has still its original pulpit and is full of antiques. Even the doors still have their original woodcarvings.

Construction of the Church:
The present church must be second, if not the third, constructed by Fr. Mateo Perez, who served this town for 33 uninterrupted years (1803-1836). The date 1783 engraved on the arch of the lateral door indicates that the church had already been re-constructed. Fr. Perez built the new convent of the church. Argao has benefitted greatly from the zeal and dedication of this Augustinian priest who did much to uplift the spiritual and material well-being of his parishioners. He rebuilt the town, planned solid townhouses along straight streets, built schools, introduced the cultivation of salt, the fabrication of bricks and the weaving industry.

Bishop Santos Gomez Mara?on constructed the slender, 5-storey belfry, considered as ?one of the best in the Philippines? in 1830. It has eight bells, five of which are still in good condition, and a clock.

The convent housed the minor seminary of San Carlos from 1949 to 1950. The townspeople have a special devotion to Santo Tomas de Villanueva. Fr. Meliton Talegon, who is buried in the left wing of the presbytery, is the best remembered Augustinian priest.

The church has been considerable restored. Fr. Pablo Alcatraz did the interior painting. The original organ brought allegedly from Mexico, still remains, a witness to the past.

Style of the Church
The composition of this church, convent and bell tower has a striking similarity with that of Dalaguete. Argao church exemplifies the tendency to introduce rococo elements in blending with Baroque, a step forward in the individualistic development of this style. A good number of religious artifacts have remained in the church. There are more than 20 angels on its brass-studded portals, it being dedicated to St. Michael.

The ceiling of the church is an interesting one. There is a notable difference in the painting on the ceiling. It was said that Raymundo Francia painted the upper half of the ceiling while Canuto Avila painted from the middle portion to the lower half. These painters are two of the best church muralists during that time (early this century). The first portion by the altar by Reynaldo Francia depicts the victory of St. Michael over Lucifer and his followers. The other portion, done by Canuto Avila, portrays biblical manifestations of angels This can be seen above the altar and is done in tinting color. The altar (retablo) of the church is still the original.

The fa?ade is of a very simple rectangular form divided into three levels and three segments through the use of Corinthian columns and horizontal cornices. The bell tower is joined to the church through a low, multi-purpose structure that is, however, in artistic disagreement with the rest of the complex.

Waypoint narrative by: paulperez 2005     follow paulperez on Facebook