Entering an old Catholic church can be a heady experience, intoxicating first one’s vision of his environment and sending a wave of surrealism from one’s head to his toe. Church pillars may be intricately carved, enough to send one to marvel at man’s ability to create beauty within his environment. Walls may have fissures borne from the force of winds and rains banging on their solid strength for years. And when one looks up, the ceiling may be lit with colors on heavenly figures, as is often the case, with hues and shadows that make the heavenward canopy of the church appear as a spectacular tableau of luminaries who are enjoying their place in God’s dwelling place, beyond the first and second heaven.
These ceilings of churches in the Philippines, its marked history and curious evolution for hundreds of years, was the topic during the first Casa Gorordo Museum (CGM) talk on February 22, as part of the museum’s efforts to make heritage accessible to the public, nurture the Cebuano identity, and cultivate pride of place. Prof. Jay Natha Jore, coordinator of the Jose T. Joya Gallery at the University of the Philippines Cebu, led the discussion titled The End of a Tradition: Trompe ‘loeil Ceiling Paintings in Cebu and Bohol Heritage Churches, unraveling in the process old and new information generated through his master’s thesis.