The Epiphany of Our Lord Parish, located beside a busy market place in Lingayen had been built in 1627. With its tower uniquely shaped like a pagoda (an influence from early Chinese settlers of that century), you could just imagine that this beautiful and imposing church structure, right in the middle of a historical municipality at that, would be popular and known to everyone, or at least, to most of the people in the establishments surrounding it.
But just to oblige me, let us pause, and we’ll get back to this later.
Having arrived the night before via Clark, all of us had gone straight to bed, up by early dawn, and then drove around the still-sleepy town to look for a decent breakfast. That was when we hit what seemed like the downtown area and finally settled in the place everyone knows as king of chow.
As we entered, I had asked the security guard at the door, what the name of the church across the street was, with its huge white bell tower unlike anything i have ever seen. To my surprise, he said he did not know, scratching his head. I thought, that was okay, he could be new to the place. Or must not have been a Catholic. Must not have found this area (or old buildings for that matter) interesting. And jokingly, must not have been of this planet.
At the counter, I again excitedly posed the same question to the girl taking my order. She at first appeared surprised, as in “I never thought of that!”, and then turned to ask the other members of the food crew behind her. Same answer.
As we settled in our seats, I informed everyone at our table how surprising it was that the big (and really beautiful) church, which now filled up the entire view at our window, was literally unknown to the local people there. (I have neglected to mention, I early on asked tricycle drivers parked outside the king of chow, and they also had no idea.)
I began to wonder if this response was common everywhere. Anyway, from then on, all throughout brekkie, we have amusingly begun referring to the grand building as “the church with no name”.
Much later, as finale of sorts to this name-game episode, we were at the tourist pasalubong office, and I immediately thought, with a high degree of certainty that my question would finally be answered. I went up to the desk, showed them my snapshot of the church, and asked, “do you know what is the name of…”
They did not know.
All I can be surmise of the whole episode is this, it surely leads to asking more questions. The kinds that especially asks one about ourselves and people as a whole. Social scientists may ask, is the ratio of migration workers in our localities so high now that bedspace perception has become so common? Just yesterday, I had asked a mall guard for directions and he told me he was just new to the place. Historical buffs on the other hand, may post about why have our people become so unmindful or ignorant of our past? Tourists in turn may just plainly query, where can I get real directions? Blah blah.
All these however, while they make good enough topics for next time, I will leave here, as I’m still in awe of the whole thing. To pursue each one may prove taxing at the least and I’m not sure where each one leads. Somewhere interesting, I hope. For the moment, and for matters of convenience, I am borrowing the popular phrase that had become common with our visit.
“I do not know.”