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A Call to Save a Sentinel of World History
Explores Remarkable Past, Architecture of 300-Year-Old Church in Need of Restoration
LINCOLNWOOD, Ill.–Physically, it is built of adobe and stone. Looking deeper, however, one can see that it is made of much more, crafted of droughts, epidemics
and vicious typhoons, composed of violent fighting, painful occupations and the glories of freedom. It is the Saint Paul the Apostle Church in the Phillipines’ Cagayan Valley, and it is the vessel of over almost 300 years of world history.Its amazing
life story, along with the story of those fighting today to keep it from crumbling into the ruins of memory, is told in James Edward Cleland’s new book, The Silent Sentinel: San Pablo Apostol de Cabagan Church Reveals 300 Years of Secrets
of the Philippines (published by AuthorHouse).
Despite its pivotal role in helping to establish Catholicism in Asia, the church, which is located in San Pablo in the province of Isabela, lies in
a near-ruinous state today as other more celebrated churches in the country undergo highly publicized renovations.
“Despite crushing poverty, the people of the Cagayan Valley have begun the monumental process of rebuilding their church,”
says Cleland, a teacher of architecture and design at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill., who became interested in the church’s history, design and plight through his wife, a former parishioner. “This reconstruction has been guided by a handful of
dedicated priests, concerned parishioners and friends from all provinces of the Philippines, as well as all corners of the world.”
According to Cleland, this grassroots effort at renovation enjoys no assistance from any governmental or private
agency. It is his hope that The Silent Sentinel will help to justify a complete renovation of this landmark, this sentinel that has been protecting the people of the Cagayan Valley throughout the Philippines’ rich and turbulent history.
In addition to the church’s vibrant 300-year history, Cleland also shares with readers the remarkable story of the design of San Pablo Church – the unique architectural innovations used by the Spanish friars and their Filipino craftsmen which
Cleland believes justifies a “complete and faithful renovation in and of itself.”
A unique historical and architectural journey, The Silent Sentinel is a gem for history and architecture and preservation buffs, and a call for much
overdo attention for not only San Pablo Church, but the other important Spanish Colonial Churches in the Cagayan Valley which have earned the right to stand tall and proud through hundreds of years of faithful service.
James Cleland holds a bachelor’s
degree in fine arts with a studio concentration and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University Chicago. Currently in his 20th year at Loyola Academy, Cleland is a member of the Society of Architectural Historians and a faculty
moderator for the Loyola Academy Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students.
The Silent Sentinel is Cleland’s first book. For more information, visit www.thesilentsentinel.com.
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