The church facade...
...topped by a belfry with
four huge bells heard as far as a few kilometers away.
The bells continue to summon
the faithful to Mass. The parishioners have mastered the
century-old language of
the bells -- marking the important hours of each day,
as they peal at 6:00 AM
(time to wake up), 10:00 AM (time for merienda and to prepare lunch),
12:00 noon (Angelus and lunchtime), 2:00 PM (siesta time), 4:00 PM (time
for afternoon merienda and to prepare dinner), 6:00 PM (Angelus
and dinner) and 8:00 PM (bedtime); announcing the death of a parishioner
-- high pitched if the deceased is female,
low-pitched if male; marking
special Church occasions; and warning Gapanenses
of emergencies like fires.
Embossed on the bells are
dates of their casting --
this one in 1890.
Standing as sentries in
their individual niches on both sides of the main doorway
are the images of the patron
saints of the two barangays that
make up the Gapan poblacion:
San Lorenzo (left) and San Vicente.
The Papal insignia is displayed
atop the main church doorway.
At the left of the main
doorway is the baptistry -- unused now.
The church interior was
renovated in the 1980's. The painted stucco coating
of the walls was stripped
to show the bricks underneath.
Every Gapanense child at
one time or another stared up in awe
at the mural painted on
the church cupola's ceiling...
... a tribute to Holy Trinity.
The antique main altar which
was dangerously deteriorating
had to be torn down in the
1970's to give way to a concrete-and-marble creation whose
center of attraction is
the second biggest crucifix in the Philippines.
The original side altars
have been kept intact for the most part.
At the left altar is enshrined
a Spanish-era miraculous Marian image...
... the Divina Pastora,
the object of pilgrimages.
The right altar contains
an antique Epiphany tableau...
... showing the Three Kings
after whom the Gapan parish was named.
Another view of the church
... as the afternoon sunlight
streams through the huge side windows and doorways.
The choir loft.
The convento beside
the church has been used by
the Divina Pastora College
since it was founded in the late 1950's.
The church patio is now
occupied by new buildings of the parish college...
... and the parish center.
The left side of the church
yard where the rectory once stood
had been cleared to give
way to a garden...
... leading to a shrine
to the Divina Pastora at the back of the left side altar...
...and a place for pilgrims
to light candle offerings.
The parish priest now lives
in the antique house formerly owned by
the Garcia family located
in front of the church, which was
bought by the parish and
converted into a rectory.
Inside the church patio
may be seen century-old acacia trees.
At the parish office, church
records of baptisms, marriages
and deaths dating back a
couple of centuries are kept in an antique aparador.
A convergence of high technology
computer keyboard and old
... patiently written in
photos and text by Ramon R. Valmonte