The renovation of the San Pablo Cathedral proves to be an interesting progress to monitor as mentioned in a previous post (“San Pablo Cathedral Makeover Commences”). The white cover of the cathedral facade is almost gone now and one might wonder now what the next phase will be on this refurbishment. I was fortunate enough to be able to talk to the foreman from Escuela Taller Intramuros who oversees the current work and he was willing enough to share the status of their renovation.
* Escuela Taller Intramuros students and alumni working on the San Pablo Cathedral
Basically the first stage is to remove the cement and paint covering the façade. In this set up water, primarily from rain, gets inside the façade itself and gets retained there. This eventually weakens the structure as time pass by. So the best thing to do is to remove the covering and cover the façade with something more durable. Before that, they still have to inspect each and every brick* now exposed and see if any of them must be replaced. This inspection however shall involve laser technology which will be done by another group from the Escuela.
Once the inspection and possible brick replacement are done the ‘coating’ comes now. We call this thin stucco layer as paletada**. Lime is the tried and tested ingredient which will be used for the façade. However, the foreman said, a meeting will be held first to determine the look or the general color of the lime mixture. It can be light or dark so it will go down in determining the proper mix (I prefer the term ‘timpla’) of sand, lime, or charcoal. Again it will be dependent on the decision of the people behind the renovation.
* a piece of the removed covering the San Pablo Cathedral façade
Still according to the foreman, there were two lion figures on the front area and these can be replicated if they will be asked to do so. This first phase was set for five months and it might be expected that the renovation will continue throughout 2015.
As a final note on the workers themselves, it is composed most of Batch 2 students of Escuela Taller plus a number of alumni.
These details on the San Pablo Cathedral’s façade would definitely excite the historically-inclined ones. I for one would want to see the renovation on a day-to-day basis if possible. We’ll have more updates soon!
* Bricks or ladrillos are made from molded clay and fired in a place called horno. Jose, Regalado. “Simbahan: Church Art in Colonial Philippines 1565-1898.” Makati: Ayala Foundation Inc., p. 36.
** Jose, Regalado. “Simbahan: Church Art in Colonial Philippines 1565-1898.” Makati: Ayala Foundation Inc., p. 38.