It was painted black; well, at least, that was what the color looked like to me. I did not get to ask the caretaker of the church why it was painted so. To contrast with the stark white statues on display at its facade? To contrast the darkness of the facade with the vividness of the interior?
When I first visited the Cathedral in 2009, the facade was old-looking, and I wanted this kind of look. I thought it was the charm of the church to give credence to its claim of being one of the oldest cathedrals in the Philippines, having been built in 1595. The present church though was built in 1808, and like all other old churches in the country, has undergone renovation after being subjected to natural disasters.
In front of the cathedral is an arch, the Porta Mariae, built to celebrate the 300 years of the people's devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia. Behind the arch is a domed structure called the Pavilion which serves as shelter for the image of Our Lady after the major processions like the Fluvial Procession.
The cathedral's interior looks new, a stark contrast to the old look of the cathedral's facade. The facade of 2009, anyway. This year, the interior's vivid colors strikingly contrast the darkness of the cathedral's facade.
Since we were nearby, we paid a visit to Ina at the Penafrancia Basilica Minore. It was exactly as I remembered it from 2009, but the interior now is much brighter and much more colorful. The title of Basilica Minore was given to the church on May 22, 1985.
The basilica houses an image of the Virgin Mary sculpted in 1710. Aside from this image, the altar is adorned with beautiful stained glass images made by Pancho Piano.