THE REOPENING OF THE MANILA CATHEDRAL
LOCATION: Intramuros, Manila City Philippines
After more than 2 years, the Manila Cathedral re-opens its doors to the faithful. Retrofitted. Renovated. BEAUTIFUL!
The Manila Cathedral underwent major renovation, repairs and retrofitting the past two years. And finally on April 9, 2014, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Manila, His Eminence LUIS ANTONIO G. CARDINAL TAGLE, held a special mass to commemorate the event.
I love taking pictures of churches. I have great respect for the craftsmanship, artistry and creativity of the artisans and artists that contribute to the grandiose beauty of these structures. However, in all these years that I have been doing it, the Manila Cathedral is one major church, a basilica at that, that I haven’t had the opportunity to take its photos. I only have taken pictures of its facade and its outside walls, but never the interiors. Not once. I posted a set of black and white photos of the cathedral before.
Prior to its re-opening, I only had one chance to see its interiors, it was during the wedding of my sister. Thus, it was one of my photography goals to shoot the interiors of this minor basilica. However, when I went there two years ago, it was closed. I had no choice but to wait for two years. When I saw it in the news that it will be finally opened this week, I made sure that I will be there. I went there with the intention to just take pictures and feast my eyes with its beauty and also to document the historic event as an ordinary churchgoer. I left home early to make sure I have a good spot and will take my time going around and take pictures. However, when I arrived the people were already lining up to enter the church.
I realized I was already late. I was guessing, there were already a lot of people inside. But that did not dampen my spirit. As I was looking at the people lining up, I could feel their enthusiasm. I could sense the joy tingling in my body. That got me more excited. I took some shots first on the ground before I fell in line. As I was getting near the door, one of the security people waved at me and asked me to go to a separate line. It was the line for the media. They put a tag on my camera and let me in. Just like that … 🙂 And I whispered, “Thank you Lord.”
Finally, I was inside, and WHOA! My jaw dropped and for a while my eyes ogled at the beauty of the church. The altar, the columns, the arches, the lights, the stained glass (even the flatscreen TV sets that were all over) … oh, the sight was beautiful! When I got back to my senses, I remembered I had a camera, hence I didn’t waste one more second, and fired away.
I still had about an hour to shoot. But the church was already teeming with people, plus with the security that was in place, I knew it will be hard to move around, much less get to the altar. I heard that the President and his family will be there. Also, the Vice President, the Senate President, and some important people in government, business community and church community are also present. Thus, the security was kinda tight. But that did not hamper me to go around and shoot. I squeezed my way among the crowd, I saw some familiar faces (celebrities, business people, politicians, church people) as I was inching my way towards the altar. Surprisingly, I never thought of taking some photos of them. I was enjoying my experience. I was mesmerized by the interiors of the cathedral. And the lights added to the magnificence of this work of art and of faith.
Finally, I was in front near the altar. I was surprised that I got there with no hitch at all. I was so happy that I got there, I wasted no time in taking more photos. I knew, not everyone has got that chance. At this time, the church is now getting filled to the brim. Since I was expecting that the security people will eventually ask me to leave my spot anytime, I might as well make the most of my opportunity. Thus, I kept on firing my camera. Taking every shot that I could get.
But to my surprise, I wasn’t asked to leave. There were people who were asked to leave that spot reserved for media, but not me. I was just reminded by the usher not to cross the line that was marked for security purposes. I whispered again, “Thank you Lord.” 🙂 It was at that point that I knew I was meant to be there. I knew it was meant that I am there. And it is not only for the photos to document this event. But more importantly, to hear the word of God.
As I was taking these shots from my sweet spot, I noticed that the warning light in my camera was blinking. (Oh gosh, I forgot to charge the battery!) Thus, I decided to turn it off and save it for later shots. When I turned it on again, the battery was already empty.
The empty battery left me with no choice but to hear mass and fully participate in it. And it turned out to be my biggest blessing that day. I came for some shots of the beautiful interiors of the cathedral. And I went home with more than that. My mind was cleansed, and my soul was nourished. I was at peace. The readings boiled down to faith and staying true to our faith. In the end it is the TRUTH that only matters. And that, “The truth shall set you free.” I needed to be reminded of that. It felt good. I was blessed.
To God be the glory!
(Click on the thumbnail for a better appreciation of the images)
You may also check out some of the details of the cathedral’s interior in this link: