Chapel of the Cartwheels
Manapla, Negros Occidental
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A curiously unique native chapel made entirely of cartwheels , old farm equipment, and indigenous materials found in the area . This is the Chapel of Cartwheels located in the grounds of a sugar hacienda, Hacienda Rosalia, in Manapla, Negros Occidental.
The salakot-shaped chapel is a unique architectural masterpiece designed by one of the living descendants of the hacienda's owner, Msgr Gigi Gaston. The structure was built in the 1960's, is said to be the only religious structure in existence of this type.
Msgr Gaston said that he took the inspiration of the chapel's design from the simple day to day items used by the sugar field workers. By using these and incorporating indigenous materials from the hacienda, the structure was built. Mass is still held every Sunday and often times, the chapel is used for weddings.
The chapel is small and can fit some 40-50 people. A cylindrical structure with a conical nipa roof made to resemble a salakot. The place of worship features cartwheels from the carabao carriages used during the heyday of the sugar rush. These huge cartwheels were repurposed as sliding doors, stained glass windows (using colorful broken bottle glasses), and even as a crucifix. Antique heavy wooden ploughs were repurposed into wooden beams inside the chapel. Old farm equipment such as mortar and pestle were repurposed as candle holders and holy water containers. Old tree trunks were repurposed as seating pews. Centuries old heavy boulders, obtained from the nearby sea, was carved to serve as the altar and seating for the priest and sacristans. The crucifix used is a cartwheel with a wooden carving of Christ wearing typical farmer's garb. A huge old tree trunk was carved to represent the Blessed Mother in a traditional baro't saya.
The Chapel of Cartwheels, in its simplicity yet uniqueness and reverence, has become one of Negros Occidental's tourist spots. The hacienda's popular landmark is located an hour's drive from Bacolod City. To maximize the drive to this spot, it is best to also include a tour of the Gaston Ancestral Mansion which is also located within the grounds Hacienda Rosalia.
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