June 17, 2024

It is simply called the Baguio Cathedral. Its full name is Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral. It is the primordial Catholic Church in Baguio City and Northern Luzon, which has served as a landmark and a tourist destination since its erection.
Built in 1920 under the auspices of the then parish priest of Baguio City, Fr. Florimund Carlu, Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral was constructed atop a hill named Kampo by the Ibaloy.
The church was completed in 1938 and from thence, played a vital role in many historical events.
When the Allied Forces carpet-bombed Baguio City towards the end of World War II to further weaken the retreating Japanese Army, the Baguio Cathedral served as the evacuation area for the affected residents.
During the People Power Revolution against the Marcos dictatorship, it stood as the center of activities for the revolutionaries. Needless to say, the Church itself was consecrated by the Pope as a Basilica, which makes it a pilgrimage site for the Catholic faithful.
Ooops, I have to stop myself there because I am not to give a history of the Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral. I am incompetent to do so.
Instead, I wrote those lines because I cannot help but appreciate the recent transformation, or should I say, restoration of the church. I think whether you are a Catholic or not, as long as you have an interest in Baguio City, you have a concern on how the church will look like.
After all, the Baguio Cathedral is as much an identifying mark of Baguio City as the Lion’s Head at Kennon Road. Perforce to say, the Baguio Cathedral is even more significant than the Lion’s Head because it has been there since as far back as Baguio City came into existence. If not for the sole reason that the Lion’s Head is along the way in coming to Baguio City, it will surely pale in comparison.
At any rate, in my recent visit to the Baguio Cathedral, I have noticed that it has regained its old luster. Whereas before, the interior painting was dark and gloomy, now it is bright and shiny with the white paint on its roofing and walling.
The giant cross, which I think is the highlight of any Catholic church, is now hanged victoriously on top of the altar. That cross, if I may say, had always been hanged on top of the altar until it was yanked out and placed on a stand in a corner of the Church unnoticed and not venerated. Thank God it is now where it properly belongs.
Next are the pews. I do not know how the workers did it but the pews are better spaced, making the Church more spacious. The spacing, coupled with the brighter atmosphere, makes praying more conducive.
Well, they say God is everywhere and He hears our prayers regardless. They say that even if the Church is decrepit, as long as your petitions are done with solemnity, sincerity and purity of heart, God will respond. That may be true, but a clean, clear and conducive church makes the mind and the spirit more attuned to the wavelengths of God.
The restoration of the Baguio Cathedral certainly does this. Besides, it is probably in the restoration of the church that even the dreaded Covid-19 virus has not visited it.
I have yet to hear a devotee contract Covid inside the Church. Call it a miracle of sorts.
Ask the Department of Health.
The restoration of the Baguio Cathedral is not yet over. There is an ongoing work to repair the steep steps connecting Session Road and the Church. This, too, is historical.
Noticeably, the plastic roofing is gone. Many are complaining but the removal of the roofing is fully justified. The steps are supposed to be a free-flowing right-of-way where mass goers can pass without any obstruction.
The roofing only encourages people to stand by and use it as a protection against the sun and the rain. It darkens the alley and deprives the people the right to enjoy the sunshine. At any rate, the stairs were not designed to be covered. It had and it should always be open.
In all, what the parish priest of the Cathedral is doing and has done so far is more than saintly. God is certainly pleased and made us Catholics proud of our church. To the engineers, planners, priests, painters and workers who made this possible, thank you. Keep up the good work.