Inside the Church of the Angry Christ
Victorias in Negros Occidental is popular because of the Victorias Milling Company, the largest sugar mill in the Philippines and the largest combined sugar mill and refinery in the whole world. This made Negros Occidental the “Sugarbowl Capital” of the Philippines. Its popularity came into a downfall after the Japanese occupation in the 1940’s but was able to slowly revive itself in the 1990’s.
Truckloads of sugar cane being transported to Victorias Milling Complex
Victorias City Hall
You will know that you are already in Victorias when you can smell sugarcane. This becomes stronger as we entered the Victorias Milling complex. The main reason we went to Victorias is because we are curious about St. Joseph The Worker Parish (or popularly known as the Church of the Angry Christ). The church is located inside the milling complex so we had to ride a tricycle from the Victorias City Hall.
Inside Church of Angry Christ
VMC commissioned different artists to design a church for the VMC personnel. Negrense Abstract Expressionist Alfonso Ossorio, Catholic lithurgical artist Ade Bethune, Benjamin Valenciano and Arcadio Anore. The controversial mural, the Angry Christ, was painted by Alfonso Ossorio (belonged to the family who owns VMC). During the 1950’s it elicited negative reaction because of the vivid colors that showed the image of Jesus Christ with stretched arms together with other biblical characters. The artist is always questioned why he/she created a certain artwork. Ossorio explained that he wanted to portray Judgment Day. Because of this, Alfonso Ossorio and the others created buzz in the global religious iconography.
Mosaic Outside the Church of the Angry Christ (up close)
Aside from the Angry Christ, other notable artistic designs are the mosaic murals created by Ade Bethune. She recycled colored glass bottle pieces and created beautiful images of Jesus’ baptism, Joseph’s marriage to Mary, workshop in Nazareth and Jesus’ death. Bethune “Filipinized” Jesus, Mary and Joseph which at that time not very common in churches.
The photo above shows the mosaic mural showing Jesus’ baptism. It is located at the left side of the main entrance of the church. There is a mini pool there (without water). I am not sure if it is being used for baptismal rites, I guess not.
Other religious images that were “Filipinized” are below:
Mary and Jesus
The Carabao Sundial was a created in 1975, years after the church was constructed. Senior Machine Shop students of Don Bosco Institute led by Hezekiah Katalbas and Vicente Gonzaga created the artwork which took them a year to create the actual sundial. Of course, this represents the sugarcane industry of Negros. The horns of the carabao was exaggerated to become the face dial. The sugar cane farmer is riding the carabao holding a sugarcane. One could tell time because of the sugar cane’s casted shadows.
The church is more than just an architectural structure and a place of worship. Ramon Hofilena, a great Negrense art historian and enthusiast, said that there are a lot of stories of why the artists created these images in the parish.
How to go to the Church of the Angry Christ:
From Bacolod City, ride a Ceres bus (or any bus) going to Manapla or Escalante. We came from Manapla so it only took us around 10 – 15 minutes to arrive at the Victorias City Hall. Travel time from Bacolod City is around 1 hour an 30 minutes. Our fare only costed us PHP 10 per person but if you will be coming from Bacolod City, it might cost you around PHP35 – 40 per person.
When you are already in Victorias, hail any tricycle and ask the driver to drop you off at the church. It is located inside the Victorias Milling Company. We paid PHP28 per person and he agreed to wait for us while we roam around the church. After Victorias, we rode the Ceres bus at the Victorias Terminal and headed to Silay. Fare was PHP 16 per person.