Information about Betis Church
The St. James the Apostle Parish Church or more popularly known as Betis Church, is a Baroque-inspired church in Guagua, Pampanga. It was dedicated to Saint James the Apostle, also known as St. James the moon slayer. It was declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum and National Comission for Culture and Arts.
Guagua is a first-class municipality in the province of Pampanga. It belongs to the Second District of Pampanga, and has a total land area of 48.67 kilometers. The town is situated 10 kilometers from the capital city of San Fernando, 76 kilometers from Metro Manila and 43 kilometers from Clark International Airport.
The town of Betis traces its roots even before the Spanish colonization which began in the 16th centure. They are well-known carvers and experts in trade. The town has already established a unique culture and way of life until the Spaniards arrived.
Headed by Father Jose dela Cruz, the Baroque-inspired church was first built in 1660. Its preliminary structure was made out of light materials, composed of stucco and wood. It was rebuilt using concrete materials in 1770 when a fire broke out.
The rectory of the church was burned together with all the documents about baptism and historical catalogues in 1908. Beautification of the church’s interiors was done in 1939 by its last Spanish priest, Father Santiago Blanco. The ceilings were repainted by Macario Ligon. Victor Ramos, his assistant, restored these paintings in 1970.
Design and Architecture
Betis church has been dubbed as the “Sistine Chapel of the Philippines” because of its grandeur design. This baroque-style church reflects the integration of Spanish and Latin American architecture. It was designed to withstand attacks during rebellions and revolts, giving the church the appearance of a fortress. It was also made to withstand earthquakes; hence its unique architectural style became known as Earthquake Baroque.
The murals on the ceiling were painted with frescoes and trompe l’oeil artwork originally done by Macario Ligon, and has been repainted by Victor Ramos. The main altar boasts of elaborate designs, with statues at the retablo and angels on top of the columns.