Nagcarlan is known for its quaint little houses with two to three floors. These casa’s have windows with multi-color glass panels adorned with artful iron and wood designs. Typical of “bahay na bato” is its short massive foundations (intended to endure earthquakes) and wide retractable doors. However, due to limited space, most of the houses are undersized compared to the grand houses built in the same era. It was common practice here to build vertical. This practical approach gives these houses a very distinctive character.
Unfortunately, just like in many old Filipino towns, most of these old houses are fast vanishing. Shifting family fortunes, careless new owners and natural wear and tear is swiftly removing these valuable houses from Nagcarlan.
The Rizal Standard Academy was once a grand illustration of American colonial architecture but because of its reckless expansion, the old was lost. Now, only a segment of the old victorian building can be seen.
While the real “presidencia” was knocked down in the early 1900’s, replace by the current building. The present government house was constructed by the Americans. Later expansion was completed in the early 1990’s.
The Iglesia de San Bartolome of Nagcarlan is located near a lively public market. There is also a school inside the church complex. The multi-tiered stone church was built in 1752 by Fray Cristobal-Torres then repaired by Fray de Argobajo (the first church was by Fray Miranda). Fray Fernando de la Puebla created the present campanaria. Later Fray Vicente Velloc, an excellent architect and engineer, would expand his church in “Laguna Baroque” fashion and added a choir loft. This same man administered the Franciscan underground cemetery.
San Bartolome have a stunning retablo decorated with gold coat and Franciscan devotional santos. The restoration conformed with the traditional structure. I’m very impressed with how they were able to manage keeping the original structural design of the old iglesia. The ceiling have gorgeous glass chandeliers. The pulpito was also wonderfully restored. According to Layug Fray de la Puebla’s belltower is “topped with Muslim inspired crenellations”. The campanaria resembles that of Carcar and Alburquerque in Bohol, a fascinating addition that demonstrates the missionaries appreciation and respect of Spain’s past.
The pioneer Padre Tomas de Miranda of Nagcarlang was well-known for his “wheat farm”. Initiated by the Franciscans in La Laguna to augment food supply in the new settlements. If the mission had succeeded in cultivating wheat, it would’ve been propagated in other provinces and compete with rice if not replace it as Filipino staple food, which is the idea behind this pioneering agriculture venture. Another theory was that the Franciscan “wheat” farms in the uplands did succeed but it was the Filipino who snubbed it. Another imported crop, the Maize was productively cultivated in the Visayas (eventually in the whole archipelago) but it did not change the Filipinos taste for their beloved “arroz”, but introduction of maize did save the far flung provinces from famish conditions (Maize is cooked like rice in Visaya) but as for wheat, its strange that hardly a trace of wheat crop growing can be found in the country today.
Another interesting structure within the church of Nagcarlang is the adjacent convento. There use to be a garden in the middle, now they’ve erected a chapel that also use to stage special events. At the end of the “sanctuario de San Bartolome” is what they call “paliguan ni San Diego”, once the bathing place of the convent but I doubt if it really was because it’s inside what looks like another building. Fortunately, the parish didn’t touched the ruins and has elected to leave it as it is, which is good as visitors can still see the remarkable architectural design of not only the church but its adjoining old convento.