JUBAN, Sorsogon, June 30, 2014 – The faithful knocked on doors and sang to repair their church, which has stood the test of time in this coastal town. The result? A refurbished look that calls to mind iconic churches in Italy and Iberia.
Restored through fundraising efforts conceptualized and conducted by parishioners, St. Anthony Parish Church in Juban, located in the southwestern part of Sorsogon, now enjoys what is arguably an unparalleled “facelift”.
Singing, going from house to house
Funds were raised through Harana para sa Parokya (serenade for the parish) in Juban, Sorsogon City, Legazpi City, Metro Manila, and Cavite, Futol said. The fundraising committee became a singing group, including the church’s parish priest, Fr. Alberto Futol.
Another effort was Tuktok Balay(house-knocking) in 2013 and early part 2014.
“We knocked on the doors of Roman Catholics in all the barangays of Juban, including its most outlying villages, who shared from P5 to P20,” he said.
Concerts and raffle draws were also held in Juban to raise funds, Futol added.
According to him, the P2 million raised from the said activities went to the renovation of roof, ceiling, doors, and other parts of the structure.
The new retablo cost P1.5 million, which was donated by a parishioner of St. Anthony Parish, he said.
“The parishioners restored this church, not me,” Futol, who formed the fundraising committee, clarified. “There was only one thing I have done – enlightened and guided them to what they were capable of doing.”
He stressed that “the faithful learn from the priest, and the priest also learns a lot from them.”
Over the years
When the parish was founded on June 20, 1817, the church structure was built on bamboo and anahaw that unfortunately were destroyed in a fire/
The church rose again, this time, built on stone, Futold revealed. The date of construction, however, was not documented.
Walls were originally swathed in concrete overlays on both sides, Futol said.
About 25 years ago, one of the former parish priests discovered stones concealed behind the concrete coating and had the plaster of the inside of the walls stripped off.
The stones, which are roughly the size of apples, protrude evenly from the sides of the front door extending to the sides of the altar, and from the floor climbing up to the ceiling.
The church with its stone walls; elongated black old-style chandeliers held by long, thin cables from the ceiling; high ceiling that reveals its original black trusses; and the Gothic retablo (or retable, the ornamental panel behind altar) is impressive.
The new retablo is made from both wood and fiber glass, taking the place of the old, baroque one.
The restoration of the church began in 2012 in preparation for the bicentennial anniversary of its founding on June 20, 2017, he said. (Oliver Samson)