Province of Laguna
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Mentioned the hillside town of Liliw, Laguna and it connotes instantly of sandals and footwear. Yet amidst the pleasures of narrow-street bargained shopping and the perennial search for that perfect designer’s slippers; the town also offers a lofty sanctuary for the pious and the spiritual.
This was my second time to visit Liliw but my very first to gaze upon the red brick church of St. John the Baptist. As one ascent the driveway leading to the church, you cannot help but notice the almost life-like size of different statutes of saints lining along the paths of the large plaza that also serve as parking. At the center of each, a concrete gazebo stands; but not alike. The right gazebo has a smooth dome finish capped with a gold crown, the gazebo on the left was roofed in brick tiles and topped with a cross, and both has an intricately embossed center column for support.
Apart from the historical marker near the arch entrance of the church, the numerous patches of vegetative encrustation near the top of the façade, more so on the bell tower, and massive weathering at the base, gave away the church’s old age.
Once inside, almost a modern interior beckons. The church underwent a massive restoration in 2007 with special emphasis for its three retablos that are vividly lighted. Backlit with intense iridescent blues, the fronts of each have theatrical spotlights that provide different shades of color depending on light combinations; giving the gold-painted retablos a mesmerizing effect to behold. Almost everything appears new, the chairs, the long benches, the altar, the pulpit, the chandeliers, and of course the contemporary ceiling. The stained glass dome above the main retablo was however, dark. Somehow sunlight does not strike it or was purposely covered for protection; it would have been a heavenly sight indeed.
Liliw church for me may serve as a fine example of restoration that works. The modernity introduced did not crash with the age-old church but in fact blended well with the structure; unlike fast thinning soles, this fusion of the past and present will indeed serve and be preserved for many more generations that will flock back, like from the song of the bird the town was named, in its seasonal migration.