BOLJOON: The Heritage Frontier of Cebu Province

Continuing my South Cebu journey, our next destination after Oslob is the Municipality of Boljoon, one of the oldest towns in the southern part of Cebu Province.

Boljoon is about 20-minute bus ride from the town center of Oslob passing the scenic coastal roads of South Cebu. Unlike Oslob, this quaint coastal town is bordered by cliff and luxuriant hills with an imposing view of Bohol Strait in its eastern side. The tall mountain ranges dotting on the side with lushes of natural forests made the town more picturesque and serenely quaintest.

As we got to the town, we dropped off the nearby Municipal Hall just situated along the highway. Like most Municipal Halls of South Cebu, it is situated along the coasts of the town. The moment I stepped out of the bus, I was carried away by the beautiful scene that swathed me at an instant. The serene Bohol Strait, the verdant hills, the striking coastal road and the old rugged structures blended together creating an irresistible charming scene that left us dumbfounded.

Being one of the oldest towns in southern Cebu, Boljoon’s history is rich and diverse dating back pre-Spanish occupation in the Philippines. Before the Spanish occupation in 16th century, Boljoon is already an established settlement of the early inhabitants of Cebu. They already had a complete community system long before foreign invaders arrived in the Island. 

Five years back, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the University of San Carlos-Cebu in collaboration with the National Museum initiated series of excavations known as Boljoon Archaeological Project to gather archaeological finds to support the accuracy of the pre-Spanish history of the province.

The project was a huge success. All archeological finds unearthed during the excavation including those skeletons, artifacts, antique jars and plates prove that even before the Spaniards came and claimed to have brought civilization to our land, our country already had a thriving community system and cultural heritage that is distinctly Filipino. Boljoon is a perfect example.

All the archeological finds excavated in Boljoon are now housed in Boljoon Musuem including a golden necklace and a golden earring dating back 15th century said to be worn by the most important person of this ancient community.

When the Spaniards conquered Cebu, Boljoon flourished as one of the most important towns of the South. According to the history, the town was created in 1598 and a year later, the Parish of Boljoon was established. Although there were disputes of when the parish was officially established, the present parish church however was first constructed in 1783. It was fully completed with a church convent in 1841.

Boljoon Church or the Patrocinio De Maria Church is veritable showcase of old and intricate carvings and bass relief. It is also pseudo-baroque rococo with beautifully decorated interior. It has a main nave and transcript and has twenty-eight pillars, two meters thick and made of mortar and lime, which support the walls as thick as the pillars.

Today, the Boljoon Church is the oldest remaining original stone church in the whole Province of Cebu that is relatively well preserved. It was declared as National Historical Landmark in 1999 by the National Historical Institute and a year after that the National Museum declared it as a National Cultural Treasure.

Aside from the Patrocinio De Maria Church, there are other heritage sites and structures that are well preserved in Boljoon until today.

Boljoon Church Archaeological Site

Boljoon Municipal Hall

Patrocinio De Maria Church Belfry & Rizal Monument

Escuela Catolica

HAVING GONE TO BOLJOON, I’ve learned things that made me proud of my race as a Filipino. The ancient finds prove that we have cultural heritage that is distinctly – lahing Pinoy! Seeing all these, I came to believe that indeed Boljoon  is the heritage frontier of Cebu Province!

TRAVELING TO BOLJOON: The Municpality of Boljoon can be reached in two hours from Cebu City. Buses that travel to the Southern part of Cebu province are all stationed at Cebu South Bus Terminal.

MALAYBALAY’S MONASTERY OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

Without a doubt, the most visited architectural structure in the whole Province of Bukidnon is the Benedictine Monastery Church of the Transfiguration in San Jose, Malaybalay City. It is even said that one’s visit to Bukidnon is not complete without visiting this holy structure. Thus, during my short weekend stay at the green province, I included this on my list.

From the city proper, the Monastery of the Transfiguration can be reached in just 15 minutes. Among the various features of the Monastery, the Church of the Transfiguration is the most recognizable. It has become a tourist attraction because of its eye catching Pyramid-like structure truly so unique and distinct from other churches in the country.

Not known to many, the Church is designed by the late Leandro Locsin, the Philippine National Artist for Architecture. It is one of his last architectural designs and considered to be one of his masterpieces. Being the most photograph structure in the province, the Church of the Transfiguration becomes the Monastery’s emblem and has become part of the must-visit places in the Province.

The Monastery of the Transfiguration is run by the Benedictine Monks. Aside from living a silent life of continued prayer and missionary work, Benedictine Monks are known for its Monks’ Blend Premium Coffee, Monks’ Peanut Butter, roasted peanuts, and peanut brittle called Piniato widely sold in the different parts of Mindanao.

With Doc Ophelia Casel and Christopher Diaz
This Blogger together with Bonzenti Panganiban of Con Tour Blog

More than a tourist destination, the Monastery of the Transfiguration is a perfect place for solemn reflection and personal retreat. With its ambience of deep serenity, the Monastery of Transfiguration is essentially a great opportunity to get away from deafening sounds of the concrete jungle and spend quality time to reflect and have meaningful personal retreats.

So, when in Bukidnon, never leave the province without visiting the Church of the Transfiguration.

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND APPOINTMENT, you may contact the Monastery of the Transfiguration at (088) 221-2373 or (088) 221-2899.

VISITING THE GREEN PROVINCE OF BUKIDNON: The Travel Series

1. Experiencing Bukidnon’s Kaamulan Festival
2. Impasug-ong’s Center for Ecological Development And Recreation
3. 
Malaybalay’s Monastery of the Transfiguration
4. Climbing Musuan Volcano


THE PICTURESQUE BANTAY CHURCH AND BELL TOWER

Adjacent to the Heritage City of Vigan is yet another charming town of Ilocos Sur called Bantay. Just like Vigan, it is also a place to behold as it boasts ancestral houses and some historical sites. The most famous landmark of the town is the Bantay Church and Bell Tower.

Bantay Church and Bell Tower is about 15 minutes Kalesa ride from the Calle Crisologo ofVigan City. To be honest, I was amazed to know that the town of Bantay is just minutes away from the city proper of Vigan. In fact it is a walking distance from the heritage city. I never knew there are towns like these two so closest to each other. And being adjacent, Bantay is also part of the Vigan Heritage Tour where it highlights the visit to Bantay Church and Bell Tower. 

Bantay Church is also known as the St. Augustine Parish Church. Built by Augustinian Friars in 1590, it is considered as one of the oldest churches in the Province of Ilocos Sur. Bantay Church is a baroque-gothic style church. It has a separate belfry situated on top of a small hill few meters away from the church.

The picturesque Bantay Bell Tower overlooks the stunning view of the mountains in nearby province of Abra and the vast South China Sea (now West Philippine Sea). During World Wars I and II, the belfry was used as a watchtower for invading enemy forces. Clearly, this manifests how Bantay Church and Bell Tower became monumental witnesses to different significant and historical events during those days.

Today, Bantay Church and Bell Tower is a great reminder of the rich history not just of Bantay as a town but the Philippines as a nation. It is a true remainder of our past that tells us we could withstand our future. Bantay Church and Bell Tower truly is a must visit piece of our history in this part of Ilocandia.

TRAVEL SERIES: Byaheng Ilocos Sur, Lakbay Ilocos Norte

  1. PAGUDPUD: The Charming Tropical Paradise of the North
  2. The Humongous Windmills of Bangui
  3. KAPURPURAWAN ROCKS: The Prized Gem of Burgos, Ilocos Norte
  4. Sunset at the Sand Dunes of Ilocos Norte
  5. Visiting Malacañang of the North
  6. Beholding the Grandeur of Paoay Church
  7. The Heritage City of Vigan
  8. The Picturesque bantay Church and Bell Tower

BEHOLDING THE GRANDEUR OF PAOAY CHURCH

I’ve been a huge lover of church structures – may it be old or new, baroque or modern. Whenever I get to visit one place, I make it a point to visit at least one church, first to pray and second to see what’s inside. There is something in churches that I consider special.

If there is one thing I love about Ilocos Norte, it is the fact that the Province is home to the many century-old churches in the Philippines. The most prominent of those is the Paoay Church also known as the San Augustin Church located in the town of Paoay. This historical church is in the bucket list of my dream churches to visit.

From Malacañang Ti Amianan, we drove straight to the town proper of Paoay. The church is located at the very heart of the town. It was nearing dark when we get there but I was so ecstatic to see the grandeur of the Church. As I stepped out of the van, it was the tranquil view of a 300-year old church that welcomed me. It was so peaceful that I can feel its serenity inside me. I moved to the front alley and from there gazed in full admiration the century-old structure that I have been dreaming to see. It was so admirable.

Paoay Church is perhaps the most admired “earthquake Baroque” church in the Philippines. It is a unique combination of Gothic, Baroque and Oriental architectural designs. It is among the first churches in the Philippine listed in the famed Unesco World Heritage List. It is for this reason that at one point, Paoay Church was used as the tourism emblem for the province of Ilocos Norte.

For more than 300 years, San Agustin Church of Paoay has lasted with the test of times – from destructive storms to devastating earthquakes. It has played significant role in the lives of the Ilokanos and has played a vital role of the Philippine history. Above all, it has witnessed the changes and challenges of the town yet remained strong and proud.

The Church was already closed when we got there. A substantial restoration and renovation was going on at that time. We did not get the chance to see what inside but just like the grandeur of the façade, we knew it was as equally magnificent.

Visiting Paoay Church was a dream come true. It is a sheer experience I will truly cherish. Indeed, when we wish for something and we push to make it happen, it will really come true! I may not wander inside the Church but being just there staring at its full grandeur is enough to say, “I WAS AT PAOAY CHURCH”. It used to be dream and finally a reality.

The Travel Teller with his RTour Travel Buddies

TRAVEL SERIES: Byaheng Ilocos Sur, Lakbay Ilocos Norte

  1. PAGUDPUD: The Charming Tropical Paradise of the North
  2. The Humongous Windmills of Bangui
  3. KAPURPURAWAN ROCKS: The Prized Gem of Burgos, Ilocos Norte
  4. Sunset at the Sand Dunes of Ilocos Norte
  5. Visiting Malacañang of the North
  6. Beholding the Grandeur of Paoay Church