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The building of the Vigan Cathedral (part VI)

But things did not move so fast in the country. It was only on December 14 of 1785 that Verzosa gave the order to the gobernadorcillo of the Indios to look for two men for the job demanded by the opinion of the Fiscal. And again everything stopped for a whole month, because the next day Verzosa left for the North for his yearly visit and for the election of the local officials.

(This article was published in 1985 from the The Ilocos Review, newsletter of the Immaculate Concepcion School of Theology, Vigan, Ilocos Sur. This was the basis of a resolution by Vigan City Councilor Ever Molina requesting the National Historical Institute to rectify the error in the historical marker in the right side of the front door of the Cathedral of Vigan.)

But things did not move so fast in the country. It was only on December 14 of 1785 that Verzosa gave the order to the gobernadorcillo of the Indios to look for two men for the job demanded by the opinion of the Fiscal. And again everything stopped for a whole month, because the next day Verzosa left for the North for his yearly visit and for the election of the local officials.

It was only on January 15, 1786 that the business was taken up again. In the meantime one of the two companions of the Alcalde was changed. They were now Felix de Vega and Joseph Pablo Manlapas.

The gobernadorcillo Valentin Raymondo Parolan had two men ready, namely Andreos de la Cruz and Pedro Eulogio, both Indios who were in need of an interpreter (Patricio Soriano de Legaspi). The two men worked in the construction of the bishop’s house (maestros a la fabrica del palacio episcopal). They declared that the church was really in bad condition (testado decadente), but as they themselves admitted, they were unable to give an estimate of the expense necessary for the building of a cathedral, since they were not experienced in church building.

Simultaneously while the Alcalde began to move again in Vigan, the bishop was also active in Manila. On January 14, 1786 he submitted one more letter to Basco reminding him of the “mas deplorable estado amenazando proxima ruina, indecente para conservar el deposito sagrado, de Sanctissimum”, once again speaking of his own visit to Vigan and his personal inspection of the church. He asked for the permission to start with the building.

Basco now acted quickly. Two days later, in January 16, he handed the letter over to the Fiscal. The Fiscal in record time, penned down the following days his opinion fully supporting the reasons and the petition. He said the church “no merece el nome de templo sino de un infelix camarin, summamente indecente para la celebracion de los divinos oficios.” After all, it was not a new church which the bishop intended to build “sino una integra reparacion o nueva edificasion en sitio contiguo a la citada paroquial.” Therefore, the Governor could give the interim permission for the start of this new church. Six days later in January 23, Basco issued the permission.

In March 7 Verzosa submitted another document to Basco declaring his inability to find in the whole province a person capable of making an estimate of the expenditures needed for the building of the cathedral. The next document at hand for this period is a decree of Basco of March 29, 1786, written in Cavite, acknowledging receipt of the latest information of Verzosa and reminding him of his earlier decision of January 23 where he gave the green light to the bishop to begin his cathedral unhindered by the civil government of Ilocos.

The last document is an “auto” of the new governor of Ilocos, Don Estanislao de Termayer of July 10, 1786. He acknowledged the receipt of the correspondence including the permission of Basco. He signed it together with his two new companions Mariano de los Reyes and Pedro Barnachea.

There our documentation taken from the careful report of Bishop Blaquier, ends. It seems that neither side bothered about any move of preparing a complete report for the king–a grave mistake for officials under the patronato. The bishop went ahead. Basco had other things to worry about and was explained in 1787 by another Capitan General. The next document at our possession is the letter of the old and sick Bishop Ruiz of 1794, begging for help.

(To be continued)

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