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.