Information about Sistine Chapel of the Philippines
Sistine Chapel of the Philippines
Betis Church or The St. James the Apostle Parish Church in Pampanga is considered as the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines. The intricately painted walls and ceilings is comparable to the likes of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. The current baroque-inspired church is a testament to the skills of the locals of Betis. The church was declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum and the NCCA.
The baroque-inspired Betis Church was built around 1660, headed by Father Jose de la Cruz. The preliminary structure was made from light materials which was made of wood and cladded in stucco. But due to the multiple fires, it was finally built with concrete materials in 1770. On the interior part of the church, the beautification was commissioned by the last Spanish priest named Father Santiago Blanco in 1939. The ceiling paintings were repainted by a native of San Agustin named Macario Ligon. His assistant named Victor Ramos, who was then in his teen years, was the one who restored the paintings in the 1970s. During the Spanish-Colonial period, Betis was an independent town. But due to migration of its inhabitants to the nearby Guagua during the American Period, it was merged to this town in 1904. Today, although part of the municipality of Guagua, the Betis church has its own parochial priest and has its patron saint, St. James the Great.
It is one of the remaining old churches with a wooden floor. The fascinating church is an art piece, with the paintings at the ceiling which does earns its right to be called the Sistine chapel of the Philippines. It was crafted by passion and love by its people. A great treasure to keep for the country and its people. The church’s beauty is truly mesmerizing and worth a visit.