After visiting the churches of Dupax del Sur and Bayombong in Nueva Vizcaya our next stops were already the churches of the province of Isabela. We visited eight of their heritage churches.
The history of Christianity in the province of Isabela is intimately linked with that of its sister provinces in the Cagayan Valley region, namely Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya. All three provinces were just one political unit called Cagayan during the early Spanish period. Mission stations in the area which later became settlements were founded by Augustinian and Dominican friars as early as 1717.
In 1841 the province of Vizcaya was created occupying the entire lower half of the Cagayan Valley. This divided the region into two provinces, the demarcation line cutting horizontally across what is now Isabela. Until 1856 Isabela was just part of the provinces of Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya.
In 1856, Isabela province was created, deriving its territory half from Cagayan and half from Nueva Vizcaya. It was named after Queen Isabela of Spain, the reigning monarch at that time. Isabela is now the center province of the Cagayan Valley known as Region II. The entire region is traversed longitudinally by the Cagayan River, the largest and the longest river in the country which the Spaniards called the Rio Grande, or larger river. The capital of Isabela became Ilagan.
Today, Isabela is one of the rice granaries of the country. It is also known for its sprawling fertile valley and forests that are abounding in flora and fauna. It is home to Magat Dam and Tourism Complex known to be the highest dam in Asia. It is second largest province in the country in terms of land area.
|Facade of the church of Alicia with its distinctive decorative pinnacles.|
|Like other churches in Isabela, the interior of the church is already new.|
|A more than life-size statue of the Our Lady of Atocha stands in front of the church plaza|
|The altar retablo of Our Lady of Atocha Parish in Alicia|
has the Nuestra Señora de Atocha as its patron saint. It was built by Fr. Tomas Calderon, OP and inaugurated in 1849. It is built of solid stone walls, doors of thick and heavy hardwood and high narrow windows. The town of Alicia was formerly known as Angadanan which was a town in Nueva Vizcaya. In 1776, the town of Angadanan was transferred to its present site in the province of Isabela. In a reorganization done in the first decades of the American occupation, the seat of the town was transferred to a barrio called Camacauan. This site became known as Angadanan Nuevo and Angadanan became just a barrio called Angadanan Viejo. However, in 1949 the barrio of Angadanan Viejo was made into a municipality and given the name Alicia in memory of President Quirino’s wife who was executed by the Japanese during their infamous occupation of the Philippines. Our Lady of Atocha was restored as its patroness. In the meantime, Angadanan Nuevo dropped its Nuevo and simply became known as Angadanan with St. Vincent Ferrer as its titular.
|The old buttresses of the Alicia church still remain|
CAUAYAN CITY (NUESTRA SEÑORA DEL PILAR)
From Alicia we next visited the parish church of Cauayan City which is in honor of the Nuestra Señora del Pilar.
|The Nuestra Señora del Pilar Parish Church of Cauayan City|
|Semi circular altar with stained glass windows and painted apse.|
|The statue of the Nuestra Señora del Pilar at the main altar|
|Only the facade of the Church is old. The belfry built of the same materials is new.|
|The mural at the apse of the main altar|
|More than life-size statue of the Nuestra Señora del Pilar at the side of the church plaza.|
|The Blessed Sacrament chapel in one of the side of the church|
, under the patronage of Nuestra Senora del Pilar has only its original facade remaining. The original belfry is in ruins while a new nave and belfry was constructed. Like Tumauini, the facade has lots of interesting bas relief and portions of the bricks have numbers and symbols etched on it.
NATIONAL SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF THE VISITATION, Brgy. Guibang, Gamu
Although not a heritage church, the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Visitation in Brgy. Gibang, Gamu, Isabela is a popular pilgrimage site. It is along the National Highway before reaching the town proper of Gamu if one is coming from Cauayan City.
|The National Shrine of the Visitation is found along the national highway.|
|Altar of the Shrine|
GAMU, ISABELA (SANTA ROSA DE LIMA PARISH)
was built around 1750 under the patronage of Sta. Rosa de Lima. Compared to the other Isabela Churches, it is more austere and quaint with its facade quite simple and decorated with a few bas relief of which notable are the Dominican Order symbols at the arch framing the main entrance. The town of Gamu is about a kilometer away from the National highway.
|The simple facade of the Gamu church with its simple decorative pinnacle.|
|St. Rose of Lima, the Patron saint of Gamu.|
|Main door of the church of Gamu with a few bas reliefs as ornamentation|
|Altar of the church in Gamu|
|The church of Gamu is narrow|