My Share for #BeautifulSunday initiated by @ace108

On our previous trip in the Province of Laguna, I have shared with you a taste of fried duck and a rewarding hike to the summit of Mt. Humarap.

In Search of Fried Duck

A Thousand Steps to "Tatlong Krus"

"Tatlong Krus" at the Summit of Mt. Humarap


In the town of Paete known as the wood carving capital of the Philippines, we have visited a church. Known as Saint James the Apostle Parish Church and more popularly know as Paete Church. As some of you might know religious architecture is one of the subject that I love the most. Every brick, stone, artwork and design, takes me to a different world and feels like going back thru time. Join me today as I take you on a tour around this church founded in 1580 and stood the tests of time.

Feel free to visit some of my old works if you would like to see some of the churches in the Philippines.

Manila Cathedral

San Agustin Church

Immaculate Heart Convent

Our Lady of the Pillar Cathedral

St. Mary Magdalene Church


Paete Church

In this peaceful town called Paete this church stands as one of the popular places to visit. With baroque architectural design, the stone walls and the beautiful background of Mt. Humarap is a perfect combination of a unique church. Not only that, inside are ancient paintings created from natural materials that survived the test of time.

The church was founded by Rev. Juan De Plasencia in 1580. In 1646 the locals of Paete help build the stone church. From that time it was erected the church was blighted by earthquakes in the following years. In 1717 the stone church was hit by an earthquake, but was rebuilt on the same year. Unfortunately, it was again destroyed by an earthquake in 1880. Faith cannot be stopped by natural disasters so once again it was rebuilt in 1884, but the earthquakes would not stop and has hit hard in 1937.

Destroyed multiple times by earthquakes they failed to evolve the design to a style known as "Earthquake Baroque". Two of the churches that I have visited were evolved to this design that can withstand a calamity. The sides of the walls were made thicker including parts of the bell tower.

San Agustin Church

St. Mary Magdalene Church

Seeing the front of the structure got me the same feeling every time I visit a church. A feeling of excitement that almost gets butterflies in my stomach. I could spend hours here just admiring every part of it.

As soon as I got closer I noticed the dark parts of the facade which is a testament to it's age. Plants are also growing from the bell tower which adds a character to it which is almost gothic and romantic.

The stone carvings on the walls are enough to keep you outside for a couple of minutes. I believe these were sculpted by the locals and it is know that this place is very rich with talented artists.

On the sides of the entrance, it is designed with sculpted leaves and flowers. I could only imagine how each flower was carefully sculpted by the locals of this town.

In the center is the epic battle scene of St. James Matamoros against the Moors. A popular scene that has been depicted in numerous artworks.

The door was closed and I felt a little disappointed that I may not be able to see the inside of the church. I carefully approached the door to my surprise the door was open.

Upon entering, that indescribable feeling rushed over me, in admiration of the beautiful interior. The silence, the scent and that sacred feeling, all plays a part in this orchestra.

A symbol called the Chi Rho is carved on the sides of the pews. This is a Greek word or symbol that represents Christ. It is one of the things that I have learned in visiting churches.

From the entrance on the left side, two large paintings would welcome you.

The depiction of San Cristobal or Saint Christopher painted by a local artist named Luciano Dans in 1850. The materials used in these paintings are unique. Pigments extracted from trees and plants mixed with volcanic ash were used. The brushes were made from cat's hair which is quite a unique material to use.

The story behind these two paintings are unique. The first painting on the left was actually hidden behind the painting on the right. The discovery was only found when then wanted to move the painting to a different location. As the story goes, the first painting displeased a lot of people due to a somehow offensive, shirtless, aggressive depiction of the Saint. This forced him to create another version which had a more gentle and delicate approach. Painted over planks of wood they covered up the original painting to hide it away in public. As time passed, the second painting was infested with termites and had been slowly deteriorating. I am just not sure if they have plans in restoring the piece of artwork.

Another creation of Luciano Dans on the right side is entitled "Langit, Lupa, Impiyerno (Heaven, Earth, Hell)".

The images are a bit frightening. I cannot imagine what goes inside the mind of the artist as he creates this piece. If you would look closer the images are very graphic and disturbing. In the middle of the painting as I zoomed in the photo there is a writing on the banner "Infierno ng mga sangol na di bininyagan (Hell for the babies that were not baptized".

On the back right side there is a room called Baptisterium. A room where baptisms are conducted.

The room was constructed in 1917 and was just restored this year. I would have loved to see how the old room looked like.

A marble baptismal font and may still be the original piece.

Painted glass are one of my favorite parts of a church. The artworks were different and looks to be like local scenes.

I am not sure what came over me and I failed to get shots of all the windows. After checking I found out that the only photo I have is this out of focus photo of one of the windows. I normally do not miss out taking photos of the windows, but in this scenario I don't really know what came over me. This has haunted me and I have been thinking of going back to get more photos. I felt that I was rushing in this shoot.

A hand full of people were there during this time and praying. I always keep very quiet not to disturb the people in the church.

I wanted to get closer, but the caretaker was polishing the front area and made me hesitant to come closer.

The ceiling was made from wood and almost looks the inside hull of a ship. The chandeliers looks old and it must look amazing in the evening as the light hits the wooden ceiling.

The name of this Church Saint James the Apostle Parish is derived from one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. Along with it is the legend of St. James Matamoros in which God sent St. James to help with the battle of Clavijo to defeat the Moors. Thus it has been a religious symbol and depicted in many artworks, the St. James on a white horse with a flag and sword vanquishing the enemies in a battle.


From the museums, that I have visited I have seen a lot of versions of this epic scene. Painted on a canvass, carved from wood and this time named after a church.

The balcony is a section I wanted to check, but I was informed by the caretaker that it is off limits. The floor is very weak and I may fall thru the floor. As I check underneath, it seems that termites also has infested a part of the balcony. I hope they do something about it to prevent the termite infestation from spreading across the church.

I left the church and checked the side and side entrance also had intricate stone carvings.

A usual statue of Moses with the Ten Commandments and it has a date from 1999.

Two statues guard the side entrance with no descriptions that indicates the names of the Saints.

Another statue of St. James at the back of the church and looks like a part of his hand has already crumbled away.

I saw a beggar sleeping near the entrance of the side door. Could he be waiting for the church to open of just fell asleep in this humid afternoon.

It may not have been recorded, but I noticed that there is a buttress on the side of the church. Thick wall stone reinforcement to help withstand earthquakes. The style of this church could also be referred to Earthquake Baroque although it was not noted.

The bell tower that still stands has witnessed a lot of changes over the past centuries. Plants continue to grow on the sides and tells us that life goes on.

I really enjoyed for this chance to visit churches again as it has been a while. Visiting this church gave a calm feeling of serenity. Seeing old stones, architecture and artifacts makes my mind travel back thru time and imagine how life was back then. No electricity and hearing the church bell ring that echoes thru the mountains. Although, there were periods of calamities and war life was simpler.

Thanks for joining me today and I hope you enjoyed the tour. Laguna is known to have a couple of old Spanish era churches and I happen to have found two more. Hope you join me again for another tour in this amazing part of our country.

Until then, have a pleasant morning or evening everyone.



Saint James the Apostle Parish Church

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All photos are original and taken with

Lumix GX85 and 12-32 mm kit lens




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