Tuesday, February 8, 2011

San Sebastian Church, Manila: Swept Off My Feet!

Faces were a blur as I fleeted past them. I was running late. I criss-crossed my way from Quiapo Church to an unfamiliar destination via an underpass and a hectic street, bumping into pedestrians and devotees and medicinal herb hawkers.

I was on my way to Illuminati Travel and Tours' grand launch. Co-owner Joel Aldor, who I met through the Pinoy Travel Bloggers FB group, sent me an invite (after I invited myself). The launch was scheduled on the 29th of January, fortunately we were in Manila then to take care of a few documents.

Basilica Minore de San Sebastián's facade.

As for the venue, well, I saw on the e-invite that it will take place in a certain church in Quiapo. I lived in nearby Malate for almost nine years and I've never been to, I read, San Sebastian Church. Neither have I Googled it. Hence, I didn't set any expectations. I was attending with a clean slate.

Jeep drivers and bystanders directed me to the church. When it came to view, about more than a hundred meters away, I swear my eyes must have seemed they were about to pop out of my lids! I was completely astounded. How could something this grandiose just be... be here and I was never aware of it?!

Just outside the church doors was an unmanned registration booth. I took a colored flyer, wrote my name on the logbook, and stepped in.

I was swept off my feet.

Arrived at this scene, attendees looking up and around the beautiful interior.

From the entrance, I could hear Joel's voice faintly. The people were gathered near the altar. The tour obviously has begun. I didn't join straight away though. Instead, I roamed around by myself (which I usually do on tours) and closely studied the impressive walls, windows, posts and ceiling.

The Basilica Minore de San Sebastián or San Sebastian Church is a Neo-Gothic church completed in 1891, and is the only all-steel church in Asia. It's currently included on the tentative list of possible World heritage Sites. I reckon it really should be.

When I found out that the church's steel sections were prefabricated and shipped from Belgium, it got me thinking... For what purpose is this spectacular structure? For more followers? For prestige? Or to showcase artistry? Perhaps an intermarriage of all these.

Nevertheless I am hoping heritage conservators/experts find a solution to its corrosion, without tampering the painting on the walls by Lorenzo Rocha and his students.

About to climb up the choir loft.

The rest of the tour I spent listening to parts of the talk and chitchatting with fellow bloggers Mark of Nomadic Experiences and Anton of Pusang Kalye, both I met for the first time.

Day was concluded with hors d'oeuvres and drinks at the church yard (where I also met Bernie of Habagat Central and Edgar of Eazy Traveler - and I so wish I was introduced to AJ of The Transcendental Tourist!), and a raffle. Three lucky people won free tours.

For more info on Illuminati Travel and Tours' packages, visit their website.


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pusang kalye said...
March 1, 2011 at 12:33 AM

kaya naman lahat tayo busy kakatingala at kakatingin sa lahat ng corners ng church nung araw na yun.hahaha. nakalimutan ko tuloy magpapic with you. :D

AJ said...
March 1, 2011 at 12:56 AM

I so wish to! But I'm sure our paths will cross again. Maybe in another heritage church. :))

Btw, your shots are mahvelous! I never think of artsy angles like that, so I just blame it on my point-and-shoot. :D

Oh, and Joel did explain the purpose for pre-fabbing this fabulous church (while you were roaming around, hehe), but I forget now. Bummer.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
March 1, 2011 at 9:26 AM

Anton, haha! Yeah! Kanya-kanya tayong business magpicture at self-exploration.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
March 1, 2011 at 9:29 AM

AJ, hopefully we meet again soon. Ack! I missed the explanation. I was too preoccupied, chatting with newly met fellow bloggers :)

Joel Aldor said...
March 1, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Hmph, dinedma nyo ang aking lecture! LOL!

ben said...
March 1, 2011 at 9:44 AM

wow...looks great..n welcome to travel 365 n follow my blog ..http://www.travelnlife.com/

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
March 1, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Joel, you were overshadowed by the church itself. Haha!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
March 1, 2011 at 10:51 AM

Thanks Ben! Followed you back. Cheers to more adventures!

Jorie Pacli said...
March 1, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Okay, why is AJ on the mention there? LOL
Nice photos! You brought the European touch to Philippines with this one... Great job! ;D

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
March 1, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Hey Jorie, he was invited to the launch as well. I'm a huge fan of his blog ever since that's why I wanted to meet him. Had I known he was there, I would have stalked him straight away. Lol.

Nelieta said...
March 1, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Wow the church is really beautiful! I have never seen a steel church before. Thank you for sharing this interesting review with us!

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
March 1, 2011 at 11:52 PM

Really beautiful, Nelieta. The church doesn't look like it's made from steel though. The artists painted its interiors in such a way that the walls, posts, and ceiling look like they're made from stone.

Kerry-Ann said...
March 2, 2011 at 10:03 AM

amazing that this church is made out of steel - doesn't look it. The inside looks warm and cosy.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
March 2, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Amazing indeed, Kerry-Ann. The artists painted it in such a way that the interiors would look like stone.

thepinaysolobackpacker said...
March 8, 2011 at 2:41 PM

ang ganada nga tlga ng loob, one of the best church sa Pinas, never ko pa napasok yan

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
March 8, 2011 at 8:53 PM

Try to pass by Gael if you're somewhere within the area :) Ma-inlab ka lalo!

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