Old San Jacinto De Polonia Church Ruins

With the wrath of nature always at its doorstep, building, repairing, and rebuilding three (3) times over was not an easy feat. They had to vacate and rebuild in a much higher and safer place. Said to be the third church built in Cagayan (ca. 1596), the church was consumed by fire (1719) and rebuilt in 1746. Within a century, it tried to survive typhoons and flooding until its final days after the earthquake of October 7, 1845. It is rugged, weather-beaten, covered with moss and vegetation-an undeniable fact that it had seen better days. It is where people once assembled, sang, and prayed. At this moment, the ruins of San Jacinto de Polonia Church now only offer silence, a breathing space, or perhaps a place for artistic creation.

Be in tune with nature in a quiet place beside the grand Cagayan River. The rustling of leaves, humming of summer’s cold and warm breeze, birds singing, and burbling river become a beautiful ensemble of sensory experiences. Most of all, it allows everyone to see and feel the sublime while imagining the once impressive things that happened in this place.

Old Sancta Maria Bell

The establishment of Camalaniugan as a town or as a part of ecclesiastical administration (June 15, 1596) came less than a year when the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia (now Lal-lo) came to life on August 14, 1595. It is also the same year (1595) as the casting of the Sancta Maria Bell. The Sancta Maria Bell, known as Camalaniugan Bell or Santa Maria de Binalatoga Bell, is considered the oldest bell in the Fareast (East and Southeast Asia).  The bell’s waist bears an embossed cross. Above Its sound bow and bead line are embossed phrases “Sancta Maria.” “Ora Pronobis” (Pray for Us) 1595″ (year of casting) and “Binalatoga”.
Meanwhile, this bell bearing the words “Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis” is a fitting reminder of San Jacinto de Polonia. Before he was a saint, he saved the image of the Virgin Mary and a ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament during the Mongol invasion of Kiev or Kyiv (1240) or what we know now as the capital city of modern Ukraine. The three other bells owned by the church are San Jacinto (1792), Nuestra Senora de Nieva y Santa Barbara (1822) and Santiago Apostol (1879).

Old Spanish Horno

The architectural designs of Spanish colonial churches remind us of Europe’s Medieval Architecture. The Dominican Priests who came to Cagayan did not only preach Christianity. They were also builders who brought Spanish influence to our architecture in the 16th century. Cagayan has abundant raw materials such as clay, sand, and coral stones that the Spaniards used to manufacture brick and mortar. Consequently, Spain also brought the technology for brick-making on a larger scale. The building of several horno (kilns) in strategic places like Bagumbayan (Tuguegarao), Dupax (Nueva Viscaya), and Camalaniugan eased the production of bricks needed for the building of churches, convents, town halls, and other government buildings and structures. The town of Camalaniugan holds the record of having the most intact Spanish colonial horno.
The exterior of the horno features two portals–big and small. The big portal serves as the door or entrance for placers (persons who arrange and stack the bricks before firing) while the small outlet on the right side of the main door is the stokehole of the furnace. The furnace connects to the main chamber through a narrow and low tunnel where heat travels. The Camalaniugan horno was built like a fortress and functioned as a watchtower. Today, it serves as a viewing deck for locals and travelers. Accessible through two flights of stairs, the viewing deck unwraps to the stunning view of the mighty Cagayan River.