Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The New and the Hidden Prayer Gardens

The grand Paoay Church
The new prayer garden
Religious icons integrated in landscape
Last weekend was my fifth time in Ilocos since 2006.  In the last three years, I braved the almost 10 hour travel time to see the region yearly. But what I realized is that everytime I go back, I discover something new, even in the areas I have visited before. 

I have been to Paoay Church 3 times and this year I found that the beautiful historic church has a new addition in its grounds. A new prayer garden was erected at one side where the large imposing buttresses are.  The massive structure got complemented with a strong color palette of landscape massing and flowering ornamental plants.
Pathways are rustic flanked by color contrasting plant massing.
Reminds me of a medieval rustic garden
The new garden was a pleasant surprise. It reminded me a little of the physic garden, which I teach in my L Arch 1 classes.  The physic garden originated in the dark ages and were common in  monasteries of medieval Europe.

I found a couple of native plants in the plant selection, but it would have been much more meaningful if more of the Ilocos flora was integrated. But as it is the garden is a very interesting attraction, making the trip to Paoay more rewarding even for us non-first-timers.
Bantay Church near Vigan proper
the famous belfry
The chapel by the ruins
I have also visited Bantay Church in Vigan 3 times.  In last weekend's trip, we were given a mere 10 minutes to take pictures of the church and its famous bell tower.   I almost skipped going down the van if it weren't for a much needed short visit to the boys' room. Accidentally, I stumbled upon the Bantay Church's 'Chapel by the Ruins', hidden in the almost relic parts at one side of the church proper. 

The space I discovered was quaint and very much secluded, perfect for contemplation and meditation.  I wonder if people knew about this space, hidden in a corner of the church, overshadowed by the iconic belfry.  
An outdoor contemplation space, a different experience.

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