Pardo – Cebu's Fortress Iglesia

April 6, 2011


My mother’s long time friend and trusted cabulig [she prefers this term over katulong] in her small food stall asked me how my Cebu experience was. I told her it was awesome. I haven’t visited the stall ever since I left for Cebu in ’09.
Nida’s from El Pardo, once a small coastal old Barrio of Ciudad de Cebu together with Talamban that are now residential districts of the progressive provincial capital. Its a 3 mile ride from the city. It has become crowded over the years as many people wanted to live near the city center.
My mother’s helper, like many others, decided to relocate here in Manila believing that luck awaits them. The move proves to be a wrong move. Her husband was jailed for estafa. I don’t know what happened to him. I’ll never  accept the excuse of “kahirapan” for involving oneself in criminal activities. But who am I to judge the hearts of man. This former security guy once save civilians from a “holdaper”. Sayang. How unfortunate that some souls are driven to commit crime because of utter poverty.
Our trusted cabulig is now raising her family alone, with four kids and just recently, a grandson, all living with her in a small house in the Makati slums. Believe it or not, they pay rent.
But its easy to criticize these provincianos for relocating here. We are not in their shoes. We’ll never understand the hopelessness that draws these souls here. Moving here in the capital is a move of desperation for many provincianos, they don’t have anything back home and what they’ll soon find out is that the standard of living here for them would be worst than where they came from.
Most of them that won’t make it – regrets once they realize there’s nothing behind the Manila glitter.

I remember very well the day I walked around Pardo, it was the summer of 2009, it was a hot and humid day. I was sweating like crazy. I had visited three other churches along the south hi-way and the church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva was the last stop.
Pardo’s church is an eccentric looking building that resembles more a battle tower than a traditional old Filipino church. Painted white, the church has a bas relief in front that illustrates a known Agustino symbol. Our old churches, like this one established as a visita of Sn. Nicolas, are simply more artful, elegant, lofty and resilient. We don’t build them like we used to.
But what’s even sadder these days is that what ever is left of our heritage is discarded like some dead snake skin! I was reading a feature in the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday about a chef who constructed a pleasant residence that many mistake to be an ancestral house, somewhere in Pampanga. He’s proud that he “sourced” his construction materials from a centuries old church being torn down!

Inside the Pardo Church

When I arrived there was an on going Primera Comunión. First communion back in the old days was an important milestone in the life of a Filipino Catholic family. Somehow it doesn’t feel like that anymore. Have we lost our religious traditions?
I stayed a little longer and took some pictures. The little girls were dressed in these pink dresses. They had these cute little wings attached at the the back of their bright outfits. The lil’ boys were more conventional, wearing collared shirts but I observed that some had hairs styled in very modern anime-sque fashion. Gone are the glossy brushed up hairs that was once the only fit hair-do for such occasions. But I thought the change, the strange hair styles and those angelique customers was fine. It was not like this when I had mine. Time has changed many of our old traditions.
One of its oldest resident priest is an uncle of a friend where I work. He said he’s admired, among family and wherever he’s assigned. This friend has got some interesting stories about this uncle priest but I would leave it at that. They say “humans will always fail; it is only God that never fails”J

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