Testament of faith-A A +A
Saturday, March 23, 2013
DESIGNING an iconic, religious structure is a big challenge. Architect Ramon Vios, the head architect of the San Pedro Calungsod Templete at the South Roads Properties (SRP) in Cebu City, knew this when the project commission fell on his lap.
The templete (“small temple”), which is now a familiar and important landmark in Cebu, was the venue of the national thanksgiving mass after Pope Benedict XVI canonized Cebu’s first Catholic saint, San Pedro Calungsod.
Built in honor of a martyr, it was like San Pedro, who was killed in Guam while on a religious mission, was also telling the people involved in the project to do their own version of sacrifice.
The nitty-gritty of site selection was a tough one for him and every member of the committee on venue. They had to choose between three possible locations. Add to that the element of time and budget. But even with the pros and cons of each site and the varied ideas from different people that he had to evaluate, Vios considered the task as a “testament of faith.”
The chosen site was a proverbial Calvary where extremes of weather could give the harshest of implications. But that seemed to just strengthen their drive to successfully complete the project.
“We have limitations and hang-ups but God uses persons and/or individuals to answer all needs,” the architect says.
Just like a building or structure of religious nature, another more creative “challenge” in this project was how to incorporate the most significant symbolisms that would fill the piece with meaning.
Vios sought opinions from other architects and design professionals on this. It was through the combination of these ideas that he came up with the final piece. Conceptualization was not solely based on the religious aspect but also on the Cebuano culture, with a vision of reflecting Cebu as the country’s cradle for Christianity. The final form, which consists of a pyramid-like structure with a cross and palm, satisfies the “vertical connectivity and spiritual transcendence” for the occasion.
Vios explains: “The form speaks to us about the spiritual preeminence, about how the sacrifice and martyrdom of Saint PedroCalungsod would translate in us real change, a change that comes from within, which is the primary core purpose of the gospel- a Christ-like transformation of character is the prime aim of Christianity.”
The dominant use of indigenous materials also contributed to its vernacular feel. The red cross is the symbol of martyrdom while the palm, often associated with Christian martyrs, mirrors acceptance of the faith. Its protruding triangular white canvas canopy is not only an abstract expression of two hands clasped in prayer but it also serves a practical purpose of shading over 150 religious clergies who would take part in the mass.
“It is also a structural deformation that inclined upward to counterbalance the overhanging canopy so that loads will be transmitted downwards to the main pyramidal frames to provide balance and stability to the structure,” he adds.
English writer John Ruskin underscored in his Seven Lamps of Architecture the importance of “power” and “sacrifice” in every architectural endeavor.
Power refers to building’s ability to spur interest in the observer. Sacrifice refers to the important mindset of the designer that every work or project is a reflection of his love and obedience to God. Thus, it should be done with utmost care and creativity amidst every challenge thrown his way.
Setting one’s eyes on the San Pedro Calungsod Templete enables one to really feel the devotion and sacrifice of the people behind its crafting.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 24, 2013.