Camalaniugan, Cagayan: The Oldest Bell, Ruins of San Jacinto de Polonia Church, and a Brick Kiln
Our next stop brought us to Camalaniugan, a riverside town of Cagayan, abundant in coconut-like plants (coconut translates to ‘niyog‘, thus the name) and a proud possessor of an antiquity which bears of great significance to the town’s heritage. That was the sole purpose of my visit but I’ve seen more than I came for.
On the banks of Cagayan River.
Oldest Catholic Church Bell
Camalaniugan Bell is housed on the topmost section of a 3-storey square belfry clad in red bricks. The bell, also called the Santa Maria Bell or Bell of Antiquity, was forged in 1595 making the antique the oldest in the Philippines, and in the entire Southeast Asia. A significant heritage passed down by our Spanish colonizers to the proud townsfolk of Camalaniugan.
San Jacinto de Polonia Church’s belfry.
Ruins of the Old San Jacinto de Polonia Church
Brick walls stood parallel to each other in a park nestled right on the banks of Cagayan River. For a century, these walls belong to the former San Jacinto de Polonia Parish Church until typhoon and earthquake of 1845 struck with heavy damages. Erosion poses another threat to the site so the church was rebuilt further from the bank. Today, Ruins of the Old Church serve as a centerpiece to a public park where locals could relax and spend time.
The walls and former site of the old San Jacinto de Polonia Church on the banks of Cagayan River.
Horno (brick kiln)
In our Cagayan journey, we’ve seen the churches of Piat, Tuguegarao, Iguig, Alcala, Lal-lo and Camalaniugan, and I noticed every structure share a common feature – bricks. I found out that there was an “horno“, a term used by the Spanish referring to huge kiln, a type of oven used to process materials such as hardening clay into bricks, in town not too distant from the church. In my opinion, the materials used in constructing Cagayan’s churches came from Camalaniugan, and its townsfolk who suffered under forced labor.
Entrance to horno.
To see the oldest bell was the primary reason of visit – but when I saw the brick walls of the old church peeking from the current site, my instinct told me to find out what it is. I also didn’t have a clue about the horno, but thanks to the friendly locals hanging out by the ruins who proudly shared another important heritage which is the horno. Curiosity have led me to many places I didn’t knew existed or haven’t seen with my own eyes. In addition, befriending the locals through small talks or lengthy conversations reveals something you won’t be expecting. A thing I learn from traveling was to keep my eyes and mind widely open for it might a teach you a thing or two about the culture, the place, sometimes, even about life.
Here are some fast facts that may help you on your trip:
1. Buses and vans bound for Aparri and Santa Ana passes by Camalaniugan. However, vans sometimes take the diversion road which do not pass by town.
2. When you get to the junction, take a tricycle just beside the public market and asked to be dropped off at the church.
3. From the church, the ruins is just behind the new church. The horno is about a kilometer walking distance from the ruins. Just ask around. Or, you could just take a tricycle if you don’t like walking.
4. This is my 6th post on The Road To Palaui series.
5. More destinations in Biyaheng Cagayan
6. Like Biyaherong Barat on Facebook.
7. Follow @BiyaherongBarat on Twitter
8. Enjoy and have a safe trip.