Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bacolod: San Diego Pro-Cathedral in Silay City

San Diego Pro-Cathedral, Silay City

The San Diego Pro-Cathedral in Silay City, Negros Occidental, serves as one of the most prominent landmarks of nearby Bacolod City. It comes only second in grandeur to the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City proper. It plays a key role in the cultural formation of the dominant Catholic population and is a monumental addition to the old Spanish feel of the romantic little city called Silay. 

The San Diego Pro-Cathedral stands erect in the background as religious sculptures file past its form during the Holy Week celebrations in the Philippines.
Although not the main cathedral of Bacolod City, the San Diego Pro-Cathedral sure seems to me like it is the most iconic. With its white concrete walls that take on a subdued yellow glow in the sunlight, this "pro-cathedral" will catch many an eye for first time visitors in Bacolod and Silay City.

So as not to confuse you, let me reiterate that the San Diego Cathedral is located in Silay City (which is 15 minutes away from Bacolod City). But borders in this sweet island of ours are rather blurred for all except the most astute of critics. Anyway, I digress.

You might be wondering what the prefix 'pro-' means before the word 'cathedral'. Basically it means that the San Diego Pro-Cathedral is the back-up cathedral in case something bad happens to the main San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City proper. (I didn't even know that islands or parishes or whatever you call them can only have one cathedral at a time.)

This architectural feat had its ground broken in 1925 and was completed in 1927 by an Italian architect under the pay of Don Jose R. Ledesma, a prominent sugar baron. (Side note: the Italian dude who built this church also built the famous (and now destroyed) Silay Pantalan [Wharf] but more on that later.)

According to some stuff I read off the net, the church is made of sturdy concrete and is Romanesque in design. It follows the typical zoning plan of Spanish villages wherein the church is the center of the town, with the public plaza, market and wealthy home owners surrounding it in close proximity. (Woohoo! Look Mr. Campomanes! Your Philippine History classes still stuck with me! :)) )

It is a very beautiful church to stop-by and idle in when there are no masses. The grounds are quiet and nary a sound can be heard from outside except for the occasional jeep and motorcycle. While inside, you'll be greeted with a trademark orange tinge coming from the dome of the church (which is the only church dome in Negros Occidental!) and sounds of birds chirping in the rafters.

Lots of people book this church for weddings though. So if you're looking for a place like this to have your wedding in or what not, better prepare for it now. Just don't tell me I didn't warm you haha.

What I do like about this pro-cathedral parish is that the community spirit around it is very strong especially when it comes to the Holy Week celebrations. Holy Week celebrations take on a new light in the province with religious processions abound and streets that are deathly silent in the spaces in between these marches of faith. (See the first picture of this blog post for an example)

Take for example the Holy Week procession called 'Santo Entierro' here in Negros. (That's Holy Burial for all you people who don't understand.) This religious procession takes place at around sunset during Good Friday.  The Santo Entierro is a slow funeral dirge that has more or less the entire town of Silay out on the streets to accompany the wooden sculpture of the dead Christ as it makes its way around the city. There are also usually 16 religious carts parading around town with the dead and relics in tow. If you haven't tried something similar to this before, I suggest you try experiencing a procession such as this. You'll come away with new insights to say the very least. Especially regarding how some people choose to interpret their faith.

San Diego Pro-Cathedral Contact Details:

Address: Zamora St, Silay City Heritage Zone, Dakbanwa sang Silay, 6116 Negros Occidental.
Address Notes: Heading north from Bacolod City on the National Highway, keep an eye out for the dome of this magnificent pro-cathedral on the left hand side. You can't miss it.


San Diego Pro-Cathedral Mass Schedules:

Monday to Saturday - 6:00 AM // 5:00 PM
Sunday - 5:00 AM // 6:00 AM // 8:00 AM // 9:30 AM // 4:00 PM // 5:15 PM // 6:30 PM

*Ample parking inside the church grounds as well as outside.
**Very close to the Silay Public Plaza. You can enjoy a nice walk after mass.

Do you have any comments about the San Diego Pro-Cathedral? Let me know in the comment section below: