Monday, December 12, 2011

SUNDAY PLAN: San Sebastian (Donostia)

I’ll be having another exam tomorrow, the third in the succession of final exams the end of which I’m looking forward to, which would be on the 22nd of December. Not that the exams are particularly hard; compared to those that I had when I was studying theology way back four years ago in this same place, the battery of exams always put me on my toes (I’m not sure if that English expression exists. If not, I’ve just invented one). The exams that I’m having are calmer in comparison. Tomorrow I’ll be having one on the History of the Church in Latin America, which is interesting enough. The professor told us that she had decided to allow us to choose on what topic we wished to be examined in (the first time I ever heard of this type of arrangement, but hey, I’m all for it!). I chose to read about the history of the Philippines. That was great because I was the only Filipino in class and at least I would be giving the professor some variety when she begins to check the papers during Christmas break. The whole material consisted of four chapters, deliciously packed with new things that they didn’t teach us in grade school, nor in high school, nor in college. I guess old biases die hard, and I’m quite inclined to believe that we haven’t moved on from the Spanish-American war in some aspects. Or that, or we haven’t come to the acceptance of certain things.

I’ve come up with a pretty comprehensive outline about the chapters (I’ve learned from my readings on St. Charles Borromeo that he always had this maxim concerning studies: read well from a few well-chosen sources and always with a pen in hand), and as they say it in Spanish, no da pa’ más, there’s all there is to it.

Good thing that Alfonso López Menendez, another resident of this prestigious House of Albaizar and a good friend, had organized a weekend excursion and invited me and a few others. I readily said yes and this morning, taking our packed lunches, Alfonso, Ricardo Fernadez from Peru, Eugene Fadul (a kababayan from San Pablo) and I went off to the seaside city of San Sebastian (Donostia in Euskera). We left Pamplona in the morning; the city was cold and gloomy due to the fog that had settled upon it. As we were leaving Navarra, entering the Basque country it seemed we had stepped into another country (Basque separatists would surely agree with us), since the sun came out and the sky was almost perfectly clear. After parking under the city center, we came out and toured the sights. San Sebastian I think is the last major city aside from Bilbao before one crosses the Spanish frontier and enters into France. Paris—as far as I’ve learned from the road signs—is about 300 miles from were we were, and Biarritz and St. Jean de Luz, where the rich and the famous have their resorts, was not far from there. In fact, San Sebastian is also a favorite summer getaway for a lot of these people.

We first went to one of its beaches, where we watched a lot of surfers doing their thing. I would imagine that the water would’ve been freezing, which was the reason why people were looking at a man who waded into the water half-naked.

We visited some churches, all of which were really precious: the basilica of San Sebastian el Mártir el Antiguo, the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, and another church which name I couldn’t remember.
A view from the wharf

One could see the Basque flag waving proudly from the
top of the fort on Urgello Hill. A marker indicates that the
French army surrendered here during the Napoleonic wars.


With the Fort and the Flag in the background. We were
joking that the flag served to remind us that we were in
another country

Basilica de San Sebastian Mártir el Antiguo

Sunday Mass in the basilica of St. Sebastian. Notice how few the faithful are.
There was a greater number of Mass-goers 500 meters away, at the Cathedral.

A side nave, leading to the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.

A side altar that caught my attention. In the central panel
one may appreciate the Holy Family. This is quite unique,
since it is a group that includes the parents of
the Blessed Virgin, St. Anne and St. Joachim.
On the sides one may see the figures of two Jesuit saints,
St. Ignatius of Loyola on the left and St. Francis Xavier in
the right facing the altar. I suspect that this was under
the Jesuits at one time.
A close-up of the group

A frieze of St. Pius V adoring the Cross, above
the Tabernacle, situated to the left side facing
the altar. Seeing it confirmed my suspicion that
the church may have been built after the Council
of Trent.  

The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd,
Diocese of San Sebastian-Donostia

Centerpiece of the Cathedral: the Good Shepherd
The renowned pinchos of San Sebastian!
Pinchos are what we may call hors d'oeuvre, I think.

Excursionistas: Me, Eugene, Ricardo, and Aflonso

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