KABKABAN. The story begins with the migration of the inhabitants of Villadolid escaping from the ravages of the Moro pirates to a place farther from the coast towards the uplands where an abundance of parasitical plants locally called Kabkaban are found clinging to the barks of trees. The migrants eventually named the new settlement after the plant.

When the new parish priest arrived to the new settlement, he renamed Kabkaban after his home town in Spain. What follows is the development of a thriving city rich in heritage and history known as Carcar.

THE BANSTAND. We started our tour into Carcar’s glorious past by heading to the rotunda. It is said that the present site of the rotunda was the spot where the inhabitants of Villadolid founded the new settlement.

This historic migration is immortalized in the sculpture on the roof of the intricately designed bandstand located at the center of the rotunda.

CARCAR CHICHARON. Our next destination was, off course, the Jolibee across the rotunda where we had spaghetti, fries and a kiddie meal.

On our way to the plaza which holds a monument to Dr. Jose Rizal, circa 1927, we were greeted by street vendors selling chicharon and ampao. We bought some of Carcar’s most famous native treats and consumed a pack of chicharon while walking.

ONION-SHAPED DOMES. Having nourished our body, we went for a bit of soul. Built on top of a hill overlooking the heritage town of Carcar is the Church of Sta. Catalina de Alexandria. Constructed in 1860, it is one of the uniquely-designed colonial churches in country.  Its striking features are the twin bell towers capped by an onion-shaped dome that resembles those found in Greek Orthodox Churches in Eastern Europe.

SACRISTY DOOR. While moving around the church, we discovered more details of this magnificent church. The statues of the apostles bordering the front patio composed only of the eleven –the 12th apostle, Judas Iscariote is standing isolated on a pedestal in front of the convent. A relief  above the entrance of the sacristy shows a church that resembles the Basilica Minore of the Sto. Nino in Cebu City.

NAVE AND PRESBYTERY. While inside church, our eyes gazed on the impressive woodwork, decorated ceiling and statues of angels holding lamp posts that adorn the columns. The Neoclassic main altar has a painted image of the Sagrada Familia on top of the statue of Santa Catalina de Alexandria.

CARCAR CHURCH. One the left side of the main portal is a wooden staircase that leads to the choir loft above. The baptistery is located on the right side of the main portal.

Around the church, on the walls and floors are tombstones of prominent residents of the town. One of which is the beautiful gothic tombstone of Petrona and Arcadio Alegrado.

ARQUITECTURA MESTIZA. The Church is just one of the many heritage buildings around the plaza. Founded in 1923 to educate young girls of Carcar and nearby towns, Saint Catherine School has an ornate façade. Its main building shows the name of its founder –Padre Anastacio del Corro.

It is only in Carcar where we have seen well-preserved American period structures. Most of the public structures were built during the term of Mayor Mariano Mercado from 1922 to 1938. The eye-catching architectural detail of the Old Carcar Dispensary is a collage of exquisite lattice work, accented with stained glass doors and windows in this lovely two-level American-era structure.

LEON KILAT. Going downhill towards the heritage village on the other side of the road, we passed by the monument of revolutionary hero Pantalleon Villegas. Known as Leon Kilat, he led the uprising against Spain in Cebu on April 3, 1898. Unfortunately, he was betrayed and assassinated by his own-aide-de-camp in Carcar on April 8 of that same year.

A HERITAGE TOWN. Carcar is a town with joyously decorated bahay-na-bato. Just like Vigan, Taal and Silay, it is considered as one of the best preserved heritage towns in the Philippines.

Traditional bahay-na-bato in her fanciest dress lined the streets of Carcar’s heritage village. One of the ornately decorated houses occupy a block along the main road is the Silva House.

BAHAY NA TISA. As we walked deeper into the street we found more Spanish and American period houses that are well preserved like the Noel House and Bahay na Tisa. One of the Best Filipino Ancestral Houses, Bahay na Tisa was constructed in 1859. The house went through restoration in 1989 and was renamed after the original brick tile roofing locally called –tisa.

-25 November 2009 | Feast of Sta. Catalina de Alessandria