Grand cathedrals like these are quite common in old christian countries like the Philippines. However, after reading Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, my appreciation for these buildings has changed. Although the method by which these structures were built is notreally as mysterious as those of the pyramids, it still inspires a great deal of awe given the technology that they had to use during those times. Aside from the amazing architecture employed in these works, the intricacy of the design is also something that deserve praise.
Old churches, especially those built under colonial times, are one of those things that evokes a certain feeling of ambivalence in me. As a Filipino, these buildings does not only stand as a place of worship. They also have a prominent role in our culture and history that can bring pride to those of the christian faith. On the other hand, they also remind me of the social and psychological oppression that our ancestors have endured under the colonist rule.
In college, I used to walk around the streets of the old walled city of Intramuros. This area houses centuries old churches. As a student, we often got a liberal amount of ghost stories shared by residents and older students in the campus. The haunting is mainly attributed to the hundreds of indios who died while being forced to work in order to build the cathedrals and ultimately, the walled city.
To this day, I still find the story quite chilling and ironic. It was probably under the promise of a divine reward that motivated the workers to slave over these sacred dwelling. Some may have seen it as a religious sacrifice or an act of true devotion, but not me.
Discovering the history behind such ancient landmarks makes them all the more interesting. In Follett’s novel, the building of a cathedral may be the center plot of the story; however, the politics and the drama that surrounds this event is just as significant. I’m actually okay with that- minus all the violence and murder, of course :]