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Category: Heritage

Casa de Cacao offers tablea tales, chocolate indulgence

A short lesson on the cacao plant that turns into a decadent feast, Raquel Choa’s The Chocolate Journey at the home she calls Casa de Cacao is an experience that…

A short lesson on the cacao plant that turns into a decadent feast, Raquel Choa’s The Chocolate Journey at the home she calls Casa de Cacao is an experience that is not to be missed.

Imagine an afternoon of sikwate (chocolate drink) in any flavor you can think of: sweet, dark, spicy, flavored with hibiscus, jasmine, or mint.

Mix and match your warm cup with variety of chocolate-based goodies: cookies, crispies, brownies, cakes.

Settle down as the woman behind Ralfe Gourmet and The Chocolate Chamber (TCC) tells you the bittersweet story behind her love affair with chocolate and the need to recreate Maria Cacao’s palace in her Cebu residence.

Raquel Choa Casa de Cacao

SIKWATE. Raquel Choa prepares sikwate, a traditional chocolate drink, using a batirol inside Casa de Cacao, her recreation of the legendary Maria Cacao’s palace in the mountain.

Chocolate journey

This particular culinary indulgence, Ralfe Gourmet marketing manager Edu Pantino said, starts fittingly enough with the American evergreen tree that bears the beans from which chocolate is made.

“The Chocolate Journey of a thousand miles begins with one cacao step,” he cited, in reference to the intricate chocolate-making process and Choa’s journey as the woman behind the artisanal cacao-based food and products that are marketed under the Ralfe Gourmet brand.

Our welcome drink was sikwate with hibiscus.

He shared how the cacao plant grows large fruit pods from tiny flowers, what conditions allow it to flourish, and the process the beans go through – fermentation to roasting – before these are finely pounded and formed into the bitter chocolate rounds we call tablea.

Choa, aided by her kids and long-time staff, shows how they make tablea the old-fashioned way at Casa de Cacao. She then uses the newly-formed chocolate rounds to make Cebu’s famous sikwate using the wooden beater called batirol.

Cacao beans on different stages of fermentation in preparation for roasting.

Sikwate flavors

My favorite was the spicy sikwate which she made by grinding pieces of chili on a small platter, adding atsuete as flavor enhancer, and straining the mix into a jug of chocolate concoction simmering over a hot stove.

We tried a variety of flavors: sikwate with hibiscus, with mint, with jasmine.

Roasting of the beans.

The hot sikwate pairs perfectly with Choa’s cake creations baked without milk, eggs, and water: the torta de cerveza uses cerveza negra while torta de Francisco (hatched in anticipation of the visit of Pope Francis) is made with olive oil and wine.

When I thought I couldn’t take another bite, out came the choco ryza (chocolate crispies), cookies, and brownies courtesy of Choa’s kids and they were just too scrumptious to pass up.

Raquel Choa

Raquel Choa tells the story of Maria Cacao.

Casa de Cacao

Choa grew up with her grandmother’s stories about Maria Cacao, with her golden ship and resplendent palace in the balete tree. Although no human can ever see or visit this place, it didn’t ever stop Choa from wishing.

Casa de Cacao, venue of The Chocolate Journey, is Choa’s creative recreation of Maria Cacao’s palace in the mountain.

“Mi casa, su casa (My home is your home),” she would tell guests who go on The Chocolate Journey with her, adding it is the realm where chocolate is the artist’s medium.

Interested in joining The Chocolate Journey? Call +63917 827 2318 or email info@ralfegourmet.com for inquiries or reservations.

Casa de Cacao

Raquel Choa forms a cacao de bola while her son molds tablea during a press tour at Casa de Cacao.

Chocolate events

Some details:

The Chocolate Journey
Cacao Bean Evolution
Trails and Tales of Maria Cacao
Tablea 101

The rate is P1,500 per person for groups of 11-15, P1,800 for groups of 6-10, P2,100 per person for groups of 4-5, P3,000 per person for groups of 2-3, and P4,800 for one person going on The Chocolate Journey.

Casa de Cacao

Casa de Cacao, venue of The Chocolate Journey, is Raquel Choa’s creative recreation of Maria Cacao’s palace in the mountain.

Chocolate Stop
Hot choco at The Tsokolate Bar
Chocolate tasting
Rate is P550 per person.

Sikwate Ceremony
Tablea-making
Savoring Tablea
Rate is P1,000 good for five persons.

Raquel Choa Casa de Cacao

Raquel Choa’s cake creations baked without milk, eggs, and water: the torta de cerveza uses cerveza negra while torta de Francisco (hatched in anticipation of the visit of Pope Francis) is made with olive oil and wine.

 

Casa de Cacao

Spicy sikwate. Raquel Choa made this by grinding pieces of chili on a small platter, adding atsuete as flavor enhancer, and straining the mix into a jug of chocolate concoction simmering over a hot stove.

 

Cacao fruits.

 

Cacao beans

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Marco Polo Plaza Cebu marks Independencia with rich Luzon cuisine

The bagnet of Ilocos, sisig of Pampanga, bulalo of Batangas, and many more Luzon dishes will serve as the highlight of the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu culinary festival Independencia from…

The bagnet of Ilocos, sisig of Pampanga, bulalo of Batangas, and many more Luzon dishes will serve as the highlight of the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu culinary festival Independencia from June 8-15 at Cafe Marco.

For the whole duration of Independencia: Flavors of Northern Philippines, diners will get to experience the rich and vibrant cuisine up north.

Jessica Avila, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s culinary consultant for Independencia, said they decided to focus on the rich flavors of Luzon for this year’s Philippine food festival.

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Tawilis salad.

Best dishes

“Some of the best dishes in Philippines are from the north, such as Pampanga and Bulacan. We also included food from such places as Ilocos and Baguio,” she added.

Brian Connelly, new Marco Polo Plaza Cebu general manager, said the Philippines gained independence from Spain 119 years ago and the hotel has honored this national celebration with a food festival for the past five years.

The culinary journey Independencia has featured food from across the country and this year it puts focus on the rich cuisine of Luzon, he added.

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Bulalo

Buffet rates

Diners can expect such signature Luzon dishes as pochero, bringhe, Bicol express, tapang Taal, ukoy, bistek Tagalog, and kare-kareng dagat, sisig santol, and tawilis salad to be served during lunch and dinner at Cafe Marco on top of the international spread all throughout Independencia.

Regular buffet rates apply even during Independencia but Cafe Marco currently has a special promo for weekday lunch at P880 net per person.

For more info on the culinary festival, call 253-1111 local 8429 or email mpplaza@marcopolohotels.com.

More Independencia photos

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Jessica Avila, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s culinary consultant for Independencia, with the hotel’s chefs.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Bagnet

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Buko salad and leche flan.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Dinakdakan

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Kare-kareng dagat.

 

Marco Polo Independencia

Adobong manok sa buho.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Ukoy.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Tapang Taal.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Bicol Express

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Bistek Tagalog

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Santol sisig.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Ginataang bilo-bilo.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia.

Various kakanin.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Burong Mangga.

 

Marco Polo Plaza Independencia

Tokwa’t Baboy.

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Rizal Memorial Library and Museum

Along the modern urbanscape of Osmena Blvd. stands the pre-World War II neo-classical building the Rizal Memorial Library and Museum or commonly known to Cebuanos as the Cebu City Public…

Along the modern urbanscape of Osmena Blvd. stands the pre-World War II neo-classical building the Rizal Memorial Library and Museum or commonly known to Cebuanos as the Cebu City Public Library.

The structure grew out of contributions from civic-minded residents way back in 1939 and is named after the country’s national hero and multi-talented scholar, Dr. Jose Rizal, who immortalized the phrase “the youth is the hope of our fatherland.”

Fronting the building is the statue of Jose Rizal with a book spread on his lap as he reads with two little children.

Rizal Memorial Library

BUILT FROM CONTRIBUTIONS. During the war in the 1940s, the Rizal Memorial Library was used as Japanese headquarters while the books and all were dumped in a nook at the Capitol building. (Photo used with permission by the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos)

Contributions by Cebuanos

The monument’s plaque reads. “To the memory of the most outstanding Filipino educator, patriot, and martyr who is conscious of the importance of education, the people of Cebu voluntarily contributed to the construction of this memorial.”

The contribution came from the net proceeds of the literary-musical programs and carnival-expositions periodically held since 1919 in celebration of Rizal Days.

A committee composed of Cebu’s prime movers invested the money from the activities in the Cebu Mutual Loan Association, where, forgotten in later years, it was earning dividends.

Rizal Memorial Libray

The Jose Rizal Memorial Library today. (Photo from the Gabii Sa Kabilin app)

Japanese headquarters

In 1935, Governor Sotero Cabahug led the construction of the building, which on Dec 30, 1939 was inaugurated and christened as the Rizal Memorial Library.

During the war in the 1940s, the library building was used as Japanese headquarters while the books and all were dumped in a nook at the Capitol building. In 1953, the institution was reopened due to public clamor. The Cebu City Government appropriated a budget for the library collection and other operating expenses.

In 2009, the library was closed for the renovation of a cultural museum which is now located in the second level of the building. It resumed its operation in 2009.

The library is open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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The death of Leon Kilat

(Editor’s note: Today marks the birth anniversary of Pantaleon Villegas, the revolutionary leader known as Leon Kilat. To mark the occassion, we are republishing an earlier post about the day…

(Editor’s note: Today marks the birth anniversary of Pantaleon Villegas, the revolutionary leader known as Leon Kilat. To mark the occassion, we are republishing an earlier post about the day after his killing.)

After his betrayal and assassination in the town of Kabkad (present day Carcar City) in the early hours of April 8, 1898, a Good Friday, Leon Kilat’s disemboweled body was put on display at the town center.

The killing of Leon Kilat, the nom de guerre of Katipunan leader Pantaleon Villegas, was gruesome – because he was rumored to be invulnerable to bullets because of his anting-anting, his killers had to repeatedly stab him to make sure he was dead.

Vicente Alcoseba, in his book “Ang Kamatayon ni Leon Kilat,” recounts the reaction of Kabkad townsfolk upon seeing Heneral Kilat’s body.

 

Leon Kilat Monument

LEON KILAT. This monument stands a short walk from where Leon Kilat was killed and where his disemboweled body was put on display at the town center for everyone to see as a warning. (Archival photo from the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos)

Sumala sa makita pinaagi sa lantaw kay dili man paduolan, lugos maila ang dagway ug nawong nga naduhg sa dugo ug tibuok kalawasan…

Bisan antaw da, ang uban nagkulima, ang uban nanap-ong sa ilang baba ug ilong, ug dinhay uban nga molantaw apan molingiw dayong pangilogkilog ambot unsay gibati. May uban motanaw nga magkismud, dagway nagpaila sa kalagot batok niadtong patay na nga nagahigda sa us aka makalolooyng andas, kalagut nga binaghutan sa ilang kinaugalingon ug binurog nga panabot.

“Hesus! Pagkamakalilisang tan-awon niana!” pulong sa usa ka babaye dayong lingiw.

“Tiaw mo nga naggula ang tinai,” mitubag ang usang katupad nga nanalithi.

Leon Kilat handkerchief

LEON KILAT’S HANDKERCHIEF. This handkerchief on display in Museo Sugbo is believed to have been owned by Cebuano revolutionary leader Pantaleon “Leon Kilat” Villegas. Leon Kilat was an almost mythical figure in the Cebu revolution – relatives in his hometown in Bacong, Negros Oriental said he would use his handkerchief like a magic carpet and quickly go to other places like a lightning thus the name “Kilat” (lightning). He was also said to be invulnerable to bullets because of the handkerchief, which served as anting-anting. Writer Emil Justimbaste said that printed on the piece of cloth were corrupted Latin and Spanish phrases.

 

“Maayo dang nakuha kanang tawhana,” misagbat ang usa aka lalaki nga buntag pa gani nagtika na ang baba sa tilad. “Kon wala pa tingali maagiw ang atong lungsod ug mangamatay kitang tanan.”

“Yati da nga mosulti ka niana,” mitubag ang usa maduhaduhaon sa pagtoo.

“Magduhaduha ka pa? … Kanang tawhana mao gayud ang bugtawon sa tropa bisan asa siya molikay. Nan kon hiabtan nga anhi dinhi sa ato mapagan lang kita sa pilit kay ang mga kastila magpasagad na man ug pamunting bisan kang kinsa.

“Karon hinoong viernesa santo dili hinoon ang atong Ginoo ray ilubong…”

“Kinsa man?”

“Kanang nagbuy-ad diay?”

“Mirisi…” mao pay pagtingog sa us aka dalaga nga nanalit-hi dayong lakaw.

Leon Kilat

PRESENT DAY. The statue of Leon Kilat today.

Sa lahing dapit….

“Sa kinaugalingon nakong paghukum, migo, ingog nasayop ang paagi nga gipatay kanang tawhana da,” pulong sa usa nga nag-kiugpos.

“Nganong sayop man?” nangutana ang usa nga napalikod sa iyang olising palasan.

“Sayop, kay inay nagpasakit kana tungod ug alang sa kaayohan natong tanan, gipatay na hinoon, unsaon pa nato pagkakab-ut sa atong gipangandoyng kagawasan?”

“Kanang pagkasultiha nimo, migo, nindot lang paminawon; apans sa pagkakaron malisud kayo pagbutang sa buhat.”

“Dili maglisud kon magkausa lang ang tanan, walay usa nga magsukwahi. Wala k aba mahinumdom, migo, niadtong giingon: “sa panagkausa anaa ang kusog,” nahibalo ka niana, migo?

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Vispop 4.0 offers new batch of Visayan hits

Six Visayan songs that sing of love, friendship, journeys, and the longing between a wife and her sailor husband have made it as finalists of this year’s Vispop. Vispop is…

Six Visayan songs that sing of love, friendship, journeys, and the longing between a wife and her sailor husband have made it as finalists of this year’s Vispop.

Vispop is a nationwide songwriting campaign that encourages Visayan-speaking composers and musicians to write quality Visayan songs that speak of today’s generation. A brainchild of Artist and Musicians Marketing Cooperative or ArtistKo, Vispop puts the Bisaya language and music in the mainstream consciousness of listeners.

ArtistKo is a non-profit, non-stock organization that supports individual creativity, skill and talent. Having artists, musicians and entrepreneurs as members, the cooperative aims to mount self-help mechanisms to provide benefits to all its members and continuously develop the local music and arts. ArtistKo’s biggest project, Vispop, was conceptualized in 2009 and had its first staging in 2013.

Vispop 2016 finalists.

This year’s Vispop finalists.

Topping charts

The first batches of Vispop finalists and winners captured the hearts of not just Cebuano listeners but non-Cebuano speaking music fans all over the country as well. It produced well-crafted songs such as Duyog, Laylay, and Papictura ko Nimo, Guapo, Bok Love, Dili Pa Panahon, Labyu Langga, Buwag Balik, among others. The songs have been topping charts nationwide.

Now on its 4th year, Vispop is once again set to make waves with its new set of 6 finalists meticulously chosen from among 360 entries from all over the country’s Visayan-speaking regions. The six finalists of this year’s Vispop are Baklay by Jerika Teodorico, Damgo by John Cadelina and Irving Guazon, Imoha Ra Akong Kasingkasing by Sherwin Fugoso and Marajane Monton, Paghunas by Joseph Gara, Pep-Pep by Kenneth Corvera, and Suwat Ni Maria by Maria Salvaleon.

Vispop 4.0 finalists

Jerika Teodorico Baklay

Jerika Teodorico / Baklay: “Baklay is a first person point-of-view story of what basically happens when friends decide to go out for a walk and end up travelling long distances because they are enjoying each other’s company. As the writing progresses, the song unintentionally transformed from just a story about laag-laag to an ode to Cebu.”

 

John Cadeliña, Irving Guazon Damgo

John Cadeliña and Irving Guazon / Damgo: “I wrote the song one lazy afternoon years go out of sheer boredom, naglupad akong imagination ug didto na ko na-inspire sa pagsulat sa akong mga damgo ug panimpalad”

 

Mara Monton, Sherwin Fugoso, Imoha Ra Akong Kasingkasing

Mara Monton and Sherwin Fugoso / Imoha Ra Akong Kasingkasing: “Ang among entry resulta sa experimentation. Wala gyod mi kahibawo kon asa mi padulong. What was sure was that we wanted it to be specific, clear ug expressive nga bibo ang feel. Ang kanta gikan sa linya nga “pagkasayon gyod nimo higugmaon” kay ana man gyod nang love nga tinug-anay (sorry sa mga bitter nga mituo nga walay forever).”

 

Joseph Gara, Paghunas

Joseph Gara / Paghunas: “Paghunas is inspired by a typical drama drawn between a wife and a sailor husband risking his life at the sea. The lyrics of the song will tell you the whole story.”

 

Kenneth Corvera, Pep-Pep

Kenneth Corvera / Pep-Pep: “The song is about relationship as a journey. Relationships may face bumpy roads along the way. Dili kanunay straight ang dalan, usahay daghang mga libaong, but despite the hardships, happy nga kauban nako siya. Ug and word nga ‘pep-pep jeep’ is a expression nako sa akong happiness samtang kuyog nako siya sa journey. Ang inspiration nako ani is my girlfriend ug ang among pag-travel sa Hongkong and Macau last year.”

 

Marie Salvaleon, Suwat ni Maria

Marie Salvaleon / Suwat ni Maria: “There’s nothing fancy about the back story of Suwat ni Maria. I was just so sad and frustrated about a lot of things three years ago and instead of crying the whole night, I chose to write a song. It’s just kind of funny because when you read over the lines (of the song), it seems to be talking about being to inspired, happy, to the extent that you feel so euphoric and falling in love when in fact, I felt the opposite while writing it.”

 

Finals night

On June 18, Saturday, this year’s ultimate song will rise during VISPOP 4.0 Finals Night. Happening at Centerstage SM Seaside, live performances from the six finalists and other special guests will fill the night with love for the language and music. Criteria for judging includes Music – 30%, Lyrics – 30%, and Over-all Impact including musical treatment, commercial appeal, radio-friendliness, uniqueness and breakthrough qualities – 40%.

Vispop 4.0 songs

You can vote for your favorite Vispop 4.0 song to be this year’s Netizens’ Choice by liking and sharing the video posted on the Vispop page. For votes to be counted, one must like the Vispop page first then like or share the video from there. In partnership with MOR Cebu 97.1, speak out and be heard by voting for the Listener’s Choice Awards.

Vispop is supported by Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. (FILSCAP) and Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. For the latest updates, please like VISPOP on Facebook. (Press Release)

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Gabii Sa Kabilin 2015 sites: A walkthrough

Gabii Sa Kabilin or Night of Heritage is the year’s most-awaited cultural and heritage event in Cebu. On this day, which is always the last Friday of May, museums, churches,…

Gabii Sa Kabilin or Night of Heritage is the year’s most-awaited cultural and heritage event in Cebu. On this day, which is always the last Friday of May, museums, churches, temples and heritage houses in Cebu stay open until midnight. To preview and plan ahead your Gabii Sa Kabilin route on May 29, check out the story map we created below. To get a mobile guide to the event, which also serves as portable resource on heritage sites in Cebu, download the Gabii Sa Kabilin app for Android. The iOS version is still coming.

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7 heritage churches in Metro Cebu for your Visita Iglesia

Make your Visita Iglesia this week a journey not just of faith but also of heritage by choosing to visit the centuries-old Spanish period churches that are common across the…

Make your Visita Iglesia this week a journey not just of faith but also of heritage by choosing to visit the centuries-old Spanish period churches that are common across the island of Cebu.

For your list of seven churches to visit this Holy Week, check out these places of worship in Metro Cebu that have played crucial roles in the island’s conversion to Christianity.

1. Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño

This towering structure, known as the church of the miraculous Señor Santo Niño de Cebu, blends Baroque, Muslim, and Romanesque architectural influences.

Cebu’s oldest church, given the honorific title “Basilica Minore” in 1965, retains some of the original stone texture and natural color it had in its 1730 construction.

Located right in the heart of downtown Cebu City, the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño started out as a church of light materials established back in the mid-1500s, probably by Fr. Diego de Herrera, said Balaanong Bahandi, a book on the Sacred Treasures of the Archdiocese of Cebu.

When this early structure was destroyed by fire in 1566, another one was built to replace it in 1571. Ten years after that, the foundation of the first stone building, which took 27 years to finish only to be reduced to ashes on May 8, 1628, was laid.

The basilica in the 1960s, when it was still known as the Augustinian Church.

The basilica in the 1960s, when it was still known as the Augustinian Church. (Photo from the Cebu Trade Directory, part of the collection of Ben Chua)

Stone church

Balaanong Bahandi credits the present coral stone church to the efforts of Fray Jose Bosqued in 1730, although its construction had to be stopped for lack of materials and was completed only in 1739 during the term of Fray Juan de Albarran.

On January 16, 1740, the Sto. Niño image was enthroned in the newly completed Augustinian church which is built on the same spot where it was found by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and his men in 1565.

It is widely believed that the Santo Niño image is the same one given by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Queen Juana of Cebu in 1521, that same year when she, her husband Datu Humabon, and several of their followers were baptized into the Roman Catholic faith.

2. Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral stands strong and regal, with its thick white walls and trefoil-shaped pediment decorated with carvings of phoenixes, leaves and flowers, clamshell medallion, and images of two saints

It is a fitting ecclesiastical seat of the Archdiocese of Cebu. It didn’t always look this way, though.

For years, it was in various states of disrepair, historian Resil B. Mojares wrote in his book “Casa Gorordo in Cebu, Urban Residence in a Philippine Province.”

The church was established as the seat of the Bishop when Cebu became one of the suffragan dioceses of or dioceses overseen by the Archdiocese of Manila on August 14, 1595 and, like others built during the period, started out as a structure of wood and nipa, according to the “Balaanong Bahandi, a book on the Sacred Treasures of the Archdiocese of Cebu.”

The cathedral in 1962.

The cathedral in 1962. (Photo from the Cebu Trade Directory, part of the collection of Ben Chua)

Church in ruins

In 1665, when Fray Juan Lopez took over, and up to 1741, there was still no decent church, only a tabique barn covered with palm leaves, said Mojares, adding that one was substantially finished in 1786 but by 1829 it was in ruins.

According to the Balaanong Bahandi, a stone church was successfully completed during the latter part of first Cebuano Bishop Juan Bautista Gorordo’s term from 1862 to 1934.

This structure was renovated by Gorordo’s successor, Archbishop Gabriel Reyes, and consecrated in 1940 but it was destroyed by American bombings during World War II and all that remained of it was the facade.

When Cebu Archbishop emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal was appointed parish priest of the Cathedral in 1981, it was already the current structure minus the two side extensions. He had both added in the 1990s as Cebu was preparing to celebrate its 400th anniversary as a diocese in 1995.

3. San Jose de la Montaña Parish

Location: Mabolo, Cebu City

Built sometime in the 1920s during the time of Fr. Valeriano Cabantan, the Mabolo church’s original design was neo-Gothic.

Even today, after some remodeling and expansion works on the structure, one can still see neo-Gothic influences in the pointed arches of the bell tower, the only untouched part of this 20th century architectural jewel, according to the Cebu Archdiocese book Balaanong Bahandi.

Citing works by Fr. Pedro Galende and Felipe Redondo, Balaanong Bahandi said that Mabolo was first founded as Talamban in 1600, by workers of an Augustinian friar estate called Banilad who built there a chapel dedicated to St. Joseph.

Though not yet a parish, it kept burial and baptismal records and by 1792 had its own priest to minister to the needs of the townsfolk.

The Mabolo church in 1962.

The Mabolo church in 1962. (Photo from the Cebu Trade Directory, part of the collection of Ben Chua)

New town site

This town of Talamban, as Mabolo used to be called, became a parish on April 3, 1850, through Royal Approval of December 9, 1847, wrote Redondo in his book Breve Reseña.

According to Galende, it was also between 1847 and 1850 that the town center of old Talamban was relocated to its current site and a new church of stone and wood built on an area that we now know as Mabolo.

Fr. Manuel Ybeas had a parish house of cut coral stones at the first level and wood at the second level built just a few meters from the church. While the first church had been destroyed by natural calamities, the rectory still stands today.

4. Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish

Location: Pardo, Cebu City

Designed by a Spanish engineer-architect, the church of Pardo is probably the only one of its kind in Cebu that is of Byzantine influence.

Domingo de Escondrillas was commissioned to design the church by Fray Manuel Ybeas, who was parish priest from 1873 to 1893.

He chose a Byzantine style for the structure because he wanted it distinct from other churches, explained Fr. Pedro Galende in his book Philippine Church Facades, as cited in Balaanong Bahandi.

The church is located on the national highway in Pardo.

Old photo of the Pardo church as posted in Skyscraper City.

Old photo of the Pardo church posted in Skyscraper City.

Fortress church

Whereas other Cebu churches built during the Spanish period are wider than they are tall, the Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church rises from the ground up, an imposing fortress.

The structure’s belfry is located in the middle of its facade, unlike many other churches in Cebu, and is flanked by two cylindrical towers that are not as high.

Pardo or El Pardo started out as a visita of San Nicolas that was separated into an independent parish on April 10, 1866, Felipe Redondo wrote in a book published in 1886.

Galende, another church writer, said Pardo was once a town formed by the merger of Bulacao, Inayawan, and Basak through a decree of the Governor General on March 10, 1863. It is now a barangay of Cebu City officially known as Poblacion Pardo.

5. National Shrine of St. Joseph

Location: Mandaue City

The National Shrine of San Jose is a fairly new structure but the religious formation of the area that is now Mandaue City can be traced to as far back as the late 1500s.

Augustinian missionaries, according to the book Balaanong Bahandi, were the first to minister to the people of Mandaue but handed this task over to the Jesuits in 1599.

A report in 1789 described the Mandaue City church, a construction attributed to the Jesuits, as sufficiently deteriorated, and the Augustinian writers Manuel Buzeta and Felipe Bravo wrote that the structure was of mediana fabrica or mixed fabric and served by a regular priest.

A strong earthquake damaged the church in 1922 and repairs were only completed in 1936.

The Mandaue church in 1962.

The Mandaue church in 1962. (Photo from the Cebu Trade Directory, part of the collection of Ben Chua)

Church renovation

Another round of destruction, according to the Cebu Archdiocese’s book, happened during World War II and the life-sized statues that memorialized the Ultima Cena (Our Lord’s Supper) were also destroyed.

Post war-repairs of the structure were undertaken through the efforts of Fr. Manuel Yap, who also blessed the new tableau of the Ultima Cena that Fr. Cesar Alcoseba commissioned to replace the ancient statues. The statues are among the church’s attractions.

Mandaue City’s current church underwent a major renovation in 1998, which involved removing the huge pillars at the crossing that used to support the roof to provide more space.

6. Nuestra Señora Virgen de la Regla Parish Church

Location: Lapu-Lapu City

Since the devotion to her started in Africa, this church’s patron – the Patroness of the Rule of St. Augustine – has been depicted as dark-skinned.

Lucy Urgello Miller, in “Glimpses of Old Cebu: Images of the Colonial Era,” wrote that this church’s first parish priest way back in 1735 brought with him an original painting of the Nuestra Señora Virgen de la Regla from Africa.

The priest – Augustinian friar Francis Avalle – used this painting to teach people about her and as basis for the religious icon of the Patroness of the Rule that he commissioned also in 1735. She was named Virgen de la Regla, which means Lady of the Rule, because St. Augustine dedicated to her the reglas or rules he created for members of his order to follow.

OLD CHURCH. This photo taken in 1910 shows the old Opon Church, which was torn down in 1960 and replaced with what you see now in its location in Lapu-Lapu City. (Photo used with permission from the Cebuano Studies Center)

OLD CHURCH. This photo taken in 1910 shows the old Opon Church, which was torn down in 1960 and replaced with what you see now in its location in Lapu-Lapu City. (Photo used with permission from the Cebuano Studies Center)

Panaad

Both objects are housed at a special room at the back of the church where devotees line up to kiss or touch the Virgen as part of a “panaad” or devotion. Devotees usually come in throngs during the Lapu-Lapu City fiesta on November 21 or days leading up to or after this date.

Miller described this church, built between 1735 and 1744, as having a pathway of coral blocks that led to the sea during the early days.

Originally built from coral blocks, this church was damaged but not badly during World War II and repairs brought it back to its original condition. It would have been among the oldest churches in the country if Dutch priests assigned there in 1960 had not decided to tear it down and build a new one in its place. Opon started out as a visita of San Nicolas and was elevated to parish status in the 1730’s.

7. San Fernando Rey Church

Location: Liloan

Two differences set the San Ferando Rey Church in Liloan from other houses of worship built in Cebu during the Spanish period. It faces the mountains instead of the sea and was built bigger than similar structures of its kind.

The Liloan Church was named after St. Ferdinand, who was king of Spain from 1217 to 1252.

The Liloan church in 1962.

The Liloan church in 1962. (Photo from the Cebu Trade Directory, part of the collection of Ben Chua)

From being a barrio of Mandaue, Liloan was turned into a new parish on June 27, 1845, according to the Archdiocese of Cebu book Balaanong Bahandi, citing church historian Felipe Redondo.

Liloan, already a town by then, was prepared for the development as residents had already built a temporary church and rectory. The town already had close to a thousand houses and was ruled by a gobernadorcillo around this time, the book added.

The first parish priest was Augustinian Recollect Fray Vicente Dolores.

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Going on Visita Iglesia? Download a handy guide to Cebu’s heritage churches

Are you planning to visit seven churches this Holy Week in observance of the religious tradition Visita Iglesia? Cebu-based journalism startup InnoPub Media, in partnership with Smart Communications, Inc. and…

Are you planning to visit seven churches this Holy Week in observance of the religious tradition Visita Iglesia?

Cebu-based journalism startup InnoPub Media, in partnership with Smart Communications, Inc. and the Archdiocese of Cebu, provides you a handy guide to the heritage churches in Cebu with the release of an updated version of its Visita Iglesia mobile phone app.

The app is available for download on iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

If you’re planning to observe the traditional Visita Iglesia or simply after visiting Cebu’s Spanish period stone churches, let the Visita Iglesia app guide you to where the structures are located in the province.

Visita Iglesia App

Visita Iglesia App. The app, available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, is a handy reference to the heritage churches of Cebu.

Historical information

The app also provides historical and current information on centuries-old churches scattered across the whole span of the island, from its southern to northern tip.

Learn more about Cebu City’s Basilica del Sto. Nino, Boljoon’s Nuestra Patrocinio de Maria Church, or Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan as you visit these structures during Lent or any other time through the information provided in the app.

The VisitaIglesia app’s first version was released last year in time for Holy Week, when devotees visit seven churches, a tradition known as Visita Iglesia, typically during Maundy Thursday.

More churches are featured in the app’s latest version.

Digital Tourism program

The Visita Iglesia app is released as part of the nationwide Digital Tourism program of telecommunications leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and Cebu-based new media startup InnoPub Media. Digital Tourism harnesses mobile technology to deliver tourism, cultural and historical information.

The program includes the production of mobile phone apps and ebooks that are offered for free download to serve as guides to tourists. The program also includes the installation of interactive tourism markers that contain a QR or quick response code and NFC or near-field communications sticker to trigger the download of historical, cultural and tourism information into mobile devices.

Digital Tourism was pioneered in Cebu but is now also in Iloilo and Baguio City and is set for launch in Albay and Intramuros. The program was commended on mass motion by the Cebu City Council in January 2012 as an “ingenious way” to deliver tourism and historical information. It was also a recipient of an Anvil Award of Merit during the 49th Anvil Awards held last February 26, 2014.

Download the app

download-on-the-app-store

Android app on Google Play

Download from Windows Phone Store

 

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TBT: Did you know the capitol was once located across Plaza Independencia?

Before the Cebu Provincial Government transferred to the current location of the Capitol, the provincial governor held office at the Casa de Gobierno or the Casa Provincial across the Plaza…

Before the Cebu Provincial Government transferred to the current location of the Capitol, the provincial governor held office at the Casa de Gobierno or the Casa Provincial across the Plaza Independencia.

Lucy Urgello Miller said in her book “Glimpses of Old Cebu: Images of the Colonial Era” that the location of the Casa de Gobierno is, at the time of the publication of her book in 2010, now an empty space near the Trans Asia building.

Old Cebu Capitol.

OLD CAPITOL. This photo shows the Casa Provincial where Cebu’s governors and other provincial officers held office. It was located on what was then known as Calle de los Trece Martires, now M. J. Cuenco Avenue. According to the photo file, you can see at the far end the Colegio Parvulos del Santo Niño Jesus. (Photo from the Medalle Collection and used with permission of the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos.)

Another view of the Casa Provincial.

Another view of the Casa Provincial. (Photo from the Medalle Collection and used with permission of the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos.)

The current Cebu Capitol was completed in 1938. According to Miller, her aunt told her about the strong opposition to its location, which was considered remote then. Her aunt told her radio commentators made fun of the location, saying that only monkeys from the hills near the building would attend the sessions held at the new capitol.

Capitol 1940

“REMOTE LOCATION.” A photo of the Capitol taken in 1940. When it was being built, people criticized the location of the new Capitol building. Radio commentators made fun of it saying that it was so remote only monkeys from the hills behind it would attend the sessions in the building. (Photo from the Medalle Collection and used with permission of the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos.)

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Sinulog Festival 2015 schedule of activities

Cebu’s Sinulog Festival is a celebration both solemn and festive, a festival of festivals held every January in Cebu City with much pomp and pageantry. Although the Sinulog Festival has…

Cebu’s Sinulog Festival is a celebration both solemn and festive, a festival of festivals held every January in Cebu City with much pomp and pageantry.

Although the Sinulog Festival has grown to become a month-long festivity, its highlights happen every third week of January.

Sinulog 2014 photo contest second grand prize winner is  by Teddy Uy. Used with permission from Sinulog Foundation, Inc.

Sinulog 2014 photo contest second grand prize winner is by Teddy Uy. Used with permission from Sinulog Foundation, Inc.

The important Sinulog 2015 dates are January 17 and 18. Sinulog 2015 activities will culminate in the first baptism reenactment as well fluvial and solemn processions on January 17 and Sinulog Grand Parade on January 18.

Below is the official list of Sinulog 2015 program of activities from the Sinulog Foundation, Inc.

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Samboan is home to natural, heritage attractions

As one of the few towns located at the southernmost tip of Cebu, Samboan is an unspoiled gem of natural wonders and ancient stone monuments. It is home to rivers,…

As one of the few towns located at the southernmost tip of Cebu, Samboan is an unspoiled gem of natural wonders and ancient stone monuments.

It is home to rivers, springs, waterfalls, caves and clean coastlines as well as structures that are hundreds of years old and bear silent witness to Samboan’s early years. Here are Samboan town attractions you can visit and instructions on how to get there.

The town center is perched atop hill and forms a landscape that offers a panoramic view of the Tañon Strait and neighboring islands like Negros.

Town officials explain the name Samboan as coming from “sinamboang,” a method of fishing once commonly used by local fishers.

The story goes that during the early Spanish period years, the Spaniards who were the first to reach the town asked a fisherman for the name of the place. The fisherman, who didn’t understand a word of Spanish, thought they wanted to know what he was doing and so he answered “sinamboang.”

The town center of Samboan from the third level of the Spanish period belfry and watchtower named Campanario de Antigua.

The town center of Samboan, as seen from the third level of the Spanish period belfry and watchtower named Campanario de Antigua, sits on a plateau that is over 200 feet above sea level.

For reasons of simplicity and brevity, the name was shortened to Samboang which later on became Samboan.

History

Located shorly before the very tip of the island, Samboan is one of the oldest towns in Cebu.

A painstaking restoration of the original watchtower, the Campanario de Antigua in Samboan formed part of a series of fortifications in southern Cebu aimed at providing coastal settlements early warning of pirate raids during the Spanish colonial era.

A painstaking restoration of the original watchtower, the Campanario de Antigua in Samboan formed part of a series of fortifications in southern Cebu aimed at providing coastal settlements early warning of pirate raids during the Spanish colonial era.

Historical accounts state the town was spotted by combatants of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi while they were doing reconnaissance of the island from March 15 to April 22, 1565, during the first few months of their arrival in Cebu.

The tranquil place started out as the Encomienda Canamucan and became one of the visitas of the Parroquia de Barili de Santa Ana (parish of Barili) in the 1600s. As a visita, it was under the jurisdiction of the parish priest of Barili who made scheduled visits to hold masses and other religious activities.

The first of Aguinid Falls' five tiers, each of which has a unique cascade.

The first of Aguinid Falls’ five tiers, each of which has a unique cascade.

Samboan was made an independent parish on November 3, 1784 under the patronage of San Miguel Arcangel (St. Michael Archangel), with Ginatilan, Malabuyoc and Alegria under its territorial jurisdiction. Its first parish priest was Romualdo Avila, a Franciscano Decalzo.

One of the priests that came after him was the great Fray Melchor de Vera, a Jesuit priest that was credited with having built the Spanish fortifications that served as protection against pirate raids.

People’s paradise

Life in Samboan, which is 140 kilometers or four hours of travel by bus from the central city of Cebu, is rustic and simple. For visitors who want to stay for a few days to truly enjoy what the town has to offer, there are a few facilities offering accommodations in Samboan.

Da-o Falls is the tallest waterfall in Samboan, if not the whole of Cebu. It is a 90 feet vertical drop of water in lush surroundings of endemic and other tree and plant species.

Da-o Falls is the tallest waterfall in Samboan, if not the whole of Cebu. It is a 90 feet vertical drop of water in lush surroundings of endemic and other tree and plant species. (Photo provided by the Samboan Municipal Government)

The town has progressed with the times while preserving the old ways, evidenced by the extant centuries-old structures and collection of rare items that offer glimpses into Samboan’s distant past. The ubiquitous tricycle and motorcycles for hire (what locals call habal-habal) are still the best way of getting around Samboan.

People still live on the bounties of the water and the soil.

They seek to preserve the seas that provide them with an abundant catch by creating marine sanctuaries and the land that yield a plentiful harvest by keeping the forests untouched and the waterways clean.

View of Tañon Strait from the centuries-old watchtower in Samboan. Below is the Escala de Jacob, a stone staircase that provided coastal communities easier access to the church in olden times.

View of Tañon Strait from the centuries-old watchtower in Samboan. Below is the Escala de Jacob, a stone staircase that provided coastal communities easier access to the church in olden times.

As a result, they’ve created a people’s paradise for everyone to enjoy, in the form of unspoiled waterfalls, rivers, and seas.

Interested in traveling to or learning more about Samboan? Get InnoPub Media‘s free mobile guide to Samboan.

Quick facts

Classification: 5th class municipality
Population: 18,140 (2010 census)
Land Area: 4,500 hectares
No. of barangay: 15 barangays Basak Bonbon, Bulangsuran, Calatagan, Cambigong, Camburoy, Cañorong, Colase, Dalahikan, Jumangpas, Monteverde, Poblacion, San Sebastian, Suba and Tangbo
Distance from Cebu City: 140 km, southwest of Cebu City
Estimated time of arrival from Cebu: 4 hours via public transport
Means of transportation from Cebu: Bus
Livelihood: Farming and fishing

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TBT: Fuente Scandal

It’s hard to imagine today but the Fuente Osmeña circle was considered dangerous in the 1900s because it was far from the city center. Fuelling the fear in that period…

It’s hard to imagine today but the Fuente Osmeña circle was considered dangerous in the 1900s because it was far from the city center. Fuelling the fear in that period was what author Lucy Urgello-Miller described in her book “Glimpses of Old Cebu” as a “scandalous, melodramatic case” that happened in the area.

On the morning of March 22, 1915, two bodies bearing multiple stab wounds were found near Fuente Osmeña, Miller recounted in her book. The two were identified as Ramon Santiago and Natividad Garcia Reyes.

Santiago was single. Natividad, on the other hand, was married to Carlos Reyes, whose family owned Bazaar Rizal, which Miller described as one of the biggest stores in Cebu at that time. The two were rumored to be having an affair.

Carlos was in Manila during the killings. His brother Elias, friend Isidro Jureidini and three of Elias’s servants were accused of the murder.

Fuente Osmeña history

Fuente Osmeña. This Cebu City landmark was built in 1912 to mark the opening of Osmeña Waterworks, now known as the Buhisan Dam. This photo was taken in 1915, close to the time of the murders discussed in this article. These three, it must be said, had nothing to do with the killings. (Photo used with permission of the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos)

Sensational case

“It was a sensational case where the people of Cebu attended the packed trial faithfully for two years,” Miller wrote in her book.

A tartanilla driver later testified that he brought Natividad to Fuente, where Santiago was already waiting to bring her to the thickets. Another tartanilla driver testified that he brought Elias, Isidro and 2 other men to Fuente. Miller, however, wrote that the latter kept on switching his story.

The judge later convicted all the suspects and sentenced them to 17 years in jail, save for Sergio Orias, one of Elias’s servants. They appealed their case to the Supreme Court and were exonerated on January 22, 1917 because the magistrates found that the testimonies of witnesses were tampered with. They were subsequently released.

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#TBT: Traffic much? Colon traffic and the ‘Best Trafficman of the Year’

This photo taken in about 1930 shows trafficman Pio Alo manning traffic on Colon Street. According to the information that accompanied this photograph at the Cebuano Studies Center archives, Alo…

This photo taken in about 1930 shows trafficman Pio Alo manning traffic on Colon Street. According to the information that accompanied this photograph at the Cebuano Studies Center archives, Alo was named “Best Trafficman of the Year” in the year this photo was taken.

Photo by Jose Martinez. This image is part of the Cebuano Studies Center collection at the University of San Carlos and is used in this site with permission from the center.

Photo by Jose Martinez. This image is part of the Cebuano Studies Center collection at the University of San Carlos and is used in this site with permission from the center.

Alo is shown inside a traffic box that was in use at that time. The box had an umbrella to shield trafficmen from rain or the heat of the sun.

At left is Vision Theater, where you can see a line of taxis from the Checkered Cab. Next to the theater, according to the photo info card, was the residence of the late Don Sergio Osmeña. It is now occupied by Eden Theater.

Across Vision theater was Cebu Lunch, a popular eatery at that time.

Here’s Colon Street today, in a photo taken by by USJ-R intern Nel Mozol just yesterday, January 15, 2015, at the general area of the photo above.

#TBT Colon

Colon today. (Photo by USJ-R Intern Nel Mozol)

 

 

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Cebu celebrates 445th founding anniversary on August 6

Many Cebuanos are well aware of the upcoming 445th Founding Anniversary of Cebu on August 6, 2014 as it has been declared a special holiday in the province. Beyond the…

Many Cebuanos are well aware of the upcoming 445th Founding Anniversary of Cebu on August 6, 2014 as it has been declared a special holiday in the province.

Beyond the fact that there is no work or classes on that day, what do we really know about this singular date in Cebu’s history and what it has come to represent?

It turns out it was on August 6, 1569 that King Phillip of Spain issued a “real cedula” granting the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi the title of governor and captain general of Cebu.

Founding anniversary

Cebu Founding Anniversary

The Cebu Capitol spruces up for its 445th Founding Anniversary celebration on August 6, 2014.

Citing historical sources, the book “Cebu: Yesterday and Today” said the province identified Legazpi as the first governor and picked the date as its symbolic founding. It was only on March 10, 1917, however, that the Province of Cebu was officially created under Act 2711.

The title granted to Legazpi, the book added, gave him the responsibility of administering justice, maintaining order and harmony, and fostering friendly ties with the local inhabitants for a more orderly rule.

Monsignor Martin Calcocer was the last Spanish leader of Cebu and he was succeeded by Luis Flores, first governor of a Filipino Provincial Government established on April 3, 1898.

Capitol seal

While many Cebuanos also recognize the provincial seal, only a few understand the meaning behind the symbols for understandable reasons. Chief among them is the failure to mainsteam such historical information.

Cebu Provincial Government seal

Cebu Provincial Government seal

Shaped like a shield divided into quarters and enclosed in a circle, the Provincial Government seal features six oysters, a spear crossed by a bolo twice, and 48 small squares.

The spear and the bolo represents resistance against oppression as symbolized by Lapu-Lapu’s successful struggle against the mightly Spanish force led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

The six oysters were the six generals who revolted against Spanish and American authorities, namely Generals Maxilom, Echavez, Cabreros, Leon Kilat, Jaca, and Genes. On the other hand, the squares represent the total number of local governments in the Province of Cebu.

Digital tourism

In line with the 445th Founding Anniversay of the Province of Cebu, several activities have been lined up through the month of August.

Among the highlights of the celebration are the founding mass and program on August 6, Gabii sa Sugbo on August 8, and a pact signing on August 4 with our start-up InnoPub Media for a province-wide implementation of Digital Tourism.

Digital Tourism comes in two components: mobile apps (downloadable from Google Play Store) that serve as handy guides to Cebu tourist attractions and special markers that use quick response (QR) codes to provide context to local culture, heritage, and history.

With the QR markers, information about Cebu’s built heritage that includes but is not limited to more than 30 centuries-old stone churches will be easily accessible to local and foreign tourists.

Schedule of activities

August 1, Friday
Flag Ceremony & Raising of Municipal Flags / Opening of Agro-Fair
Opening of Business Incubation Exhibit

August 2, Saturday
Family Day: Fun Walk / Zumba / Caleza Riding / Awarding

August 3, Sunday
Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines

August 4, Monday
Wellness Day / MOA Signing with Inno Pub Media on Digital Tourism

August 5, Tuesday
Bangga sa Kanta, Balak ug Pakatawa

August 6, Wednesday
445th Founding Anniversary Holy Mass / Anniversary Program / Awarding

August 8, Friday
Gabii sa Sugbo / Launching of Bidlisiw Awards

August 14, Thursday
Shark Summit

August 15, Friday
Halad sa Kabataan

August 18, Monday
Recognition Day / Punong Barangay Day

August 20, Wednesday
Media Night

August 24, Sunday
Local Job Fair

August 29, Friday
Launching of UBAS (Ugnayang Barangay at Simbahan)

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6 Boljoon centuries-old attractions you should visit

Aside from being picturesque and postcard-perfect, historic is also another word that locals and even historians use to describe the southwestern town of Boljoon in Cebu. Other than the quaint…

Aside from being picturesque and postcard-perfect, historic is also another word that locals and even historians use to describe the southwestern town of Boljoon in Cebu.

Other than the quaint picture it presents as it sits on a narrow strip of land between the placid blue sea and tall mountain ridges, the settlement of Boljoon also had an important role to play in the olden days.

Here in this rural town began a strong and proper coastal defense against piratical attacks by marauders from Mindanao and it was organized during the early 19th century by a Spanish priest hailed in the south as “El Parroco Capitan.”

His name was Fr. Julian Bermejo and he became the parish priest of Boljoon in October of 1802 hearing stories from early settlers about the brutality of these raids. The defenseless settlements would see their people getting killed or taken captive and their houses burned to the ground.

Fr. Bermejo’s system involves a series of watchtowers and stone walls and buildings throughout the south that serve as lookout and refuge during the sieges.

Boljoon parish complex

In Boljoon, these centuries-old fortifications have been mostly preserved and are open to visitors. A walk around the the Parish Complex where these buildings are located is like stepping back to a colorful and turbulent period of the town’s past.

Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio Church in Boljoon

WORSHIP, REFUGE. Construction of the Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio Church was started a year after slave traders destroyed the old one in 1782. The imposing edifice, with its thick stone walls made of coral slabs and high windows, served a dual purpose: as place of worship and refuge for the people during the pirate sieges. (Photo by Max Limpag)

1. Patrocinio de Maria Church

A central structure to the Parish Complex is the Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio Church and it was started a year after slave traders destroyed the old one in 1782. It was, however, completed only in 1814 during the tenure of Fr. Bermejo as parish priest, according to the Cebu Archdiocese’s book “Balaanong Bahandi.”

The imposing edifice, with its thick stone walls made of coral slabs and high windows, served a dual purpose: as place of worship and refuge for the people during the pirate sieges, said Boljoon heritage and tourism officer Ronald Villanueva.

About 90 percent of the Patrocinio de Maria Church is of the original construction, and it has preserved its choir loft and pipe organ although the latter does not work anymore.

In keeping with the period’s trend, the church’s ceiling was painted with religious art in the 1920s to 1930s not by a well-known artist but by a local one known as Mariano Villareal.

The Boljoon Church was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1999 by the National Historical Institute and a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum in 2001. These are the highest honors a structure can receive from both institutions.

Villanueva said it is the only existing fortress church with an almost intact enclosure, as only the sea-facing side of the rectangular fort that fenced it in had been destroyed. It was demolished in the 1900s to make way for the coastal road, he added.

2. Gates and walls

The quadrangle fort that protected the church and other structures within the Parish Complex came with bulwarks at the corners. It remains mostly intact and is one of town attractions. Only the wall facing the sea is missing as it was demolished in the 20th century to make way for the coastal road, explained Villanueva. The portals at the side and back are also largely undamaged.

The Parish Complex is located right at the heart of Boljoon just beside the road where the buses make their stop. The structures within it were central to the running of what was then the pueblo of Boljoon during Spanish colonial times.

Antique chair inside Boljoon rectory

ANTIQUE CHAIR. This antique furniture can be found inside the Boljoon rectory. (Photo by Max Limpag)

3. Rectory

The rectory is probably the oldest and biggest remaining residential building from Spanish colonial times in Boljoon. It is located beside and connected to the church and shaped like an L in accordance with the tradition of the period.

It is among Cebu’s biggest rectories and used to host top members of the clergy who were regular visitors to Boljoon during Spanish times, explained Villanueva.

Boljoon’s rectory, called kumbento by the locals, was completed in 1847 under the leadership of Fr. Bermejo. It is an example of a typical balay na bato, a Spanish improvement on the post and beam nipa house of the natives.

The rectory’s ground level, which used to serve as bodega or storage as was common in typical Spanish-colonial residential building, now houses a museum displaying the town’s ecclesiastical and liturgical artifacts. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entrance fees are P20 for students, P25 for other locals, and P50 for foreigners.

A wide grand staircase with ornately carved posts lead up to the second floor which serves as the building’s living space. An antique collector many years ago offered to buy the staircase for half a million pesos.

The rectory’s second floor has wooden walls and hardwood posts and floors and a big part of the roof is covered with Spanish monk-and-nun style clay tiles like that of the church

Worth a visit is the inner courtyard between the rectory and the church which has the mountain as a backdrop. Displayed on the convent wall beside the church are pictures of old Boljoon people, events, and places.

Church plaza

Between the church and the edge of the road is a plaza that serves as perfect vantage point for viewing the church, Ili Rock, and the town cove. In Spanish colonial times, the plaza was the focal point for religious activities and festivities. It is still used today as a starting point for processions and similar events.

4. Church belfry

Boljoon’s bell tower is unique in its plainness, said Gerschwiler, adding the structure “does not look like a well-designed belfry of the early 19th century.”

The belfry, which is shorter than the church’s facade pediment, may be considered a professional mismatch with the church.

One explanation for this, according to Gerschwiler, is it was built around the same time as the first stone church that was razed to the ground during the pirate raid on what was then the settlement of Boljoon in 1782.

It served as both a watchtower or lookout and belfry.

El Gran Baluarte

WATCHTOWER. When it was completed in 1808, the El Gran Baluarte’s ground floor was used as storeroom for weapons and ammunition and held a prison cell. The upper level served as a defense station armed with cannons. (Photo by Max Limpag)

5. El Gran Baluarte

One of the fortifications constructed by Fr. Bermejo within the complex is a two-level blockhouse facing the sea that now serves as a bell tower. In Fr. Bermejo’s days, said Gerschwiler, this served as a watchtower and bulwark.

The structure, which the town now calls El Gran Baluarte as it is the biggest watchtower built in Cebu, played a central role in the defense system of fortresses put up by Fr. Bermejo to deter pirate attacks.

Back in 1808, when it was completed, the ground floor was used as storeroom for weapons and ammunition and held a prison cell. The upper level served as a defense station armed with cannons.

Inside this bulwark turned belfry, visitors can still make out prisoner markings on the walls: Spanish galleons and even a pagoda with smoke coming out of it.

Boljoon Watchtower drawing

PRISON ART.A drawing of a Spanish galleon by one of the prisoners jailed in the El Gran Baluarte.

6. Plaza Cemetery

Boljoon plaza cemetery

This served as the first Christian burial ground in Boljoon, probably constructed together with the first stone church in the 1760s. The cemetery gates are made of cut coral stones with a symmetrical gateway. It has an arched opening with a three-layer pediment decorated by finials on the two lower layers and a stone relief of a skeleton on the top layer.

The ancestors of many Boljoon residents are buried in the cemetery.

Other Parish Complex attractions

1. Escuela Catolica

Boljoon Escuela Catolica

Boljoon Escuela Catolica

The Escuela Catolica was built in the 1940 and served as dorm for children receiving instructions on taking their first communion, according to the Cebu Heritage Frontier book. Escuela Catolica was used for religious teachings and had, at one time, served as a primary school, the book added.

It now serves as meeting place for the various religious groups of the parish. It is not a typical Spanish colonial building, bearing instead American construction influences.

2. Plaza Bermejo

Although neither within nor a part of the Parish Complex, this coastal park is located close enough to be grouped together with Parish Complex attractions. Plaza Bermejo, which is across the road from the church, is not among Spanish colonial or American era structures. Nevertheless, it was created in tribute to one of the town’s great Spanish period personalities – Fr. Julian Bermejo.

Fr. Bermejo was responsible for putting up a defense concept against the Moros who used to pillage the town and abduct villagers. His system involved communication among a stretch of watchtowers over a distance of 96 kilometers, from Santander in the south to Carcar in the north, using flags and Budyong shells.

This plaza named after him is located along the Boljoon coast and is a good place to take a stroll or just relax with family and friends.

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Get a comprehensive guide to Boljoon by downloading the “Boljoon Guide” mobile app.

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Santa Catalina de Alejandria Church in Carcar

One of the very first things people notice about the Santa Catalina de Alejandria Parish Church is the life-size statues of the 13 apostles perched on the columns of the…

One of the very first things people notice about the Santa Catalina de Alejandria Parish Church is the life-size statues of the 13 apostles perched on the columns of the structure’s fenced patio.

Another is of a similar sculpture of the fourteenth apostle, the betrayer Judas Iscariot, standing apart on a pillar near the rectory.

Construction of the present-day Carcar Church started in 1860 under the supervision of then parish priest Fr. Antonio Manglano, according to Balaanong Bahandi, a book on the religious history of the Cebu Archdiocese.

It was only in 1875, though, that the structure was completed under Fr. Manuel Fernandez Rubio, who was also credited with building the church rectory of stone and wood, the book added.

Carcar Church

The Santa Catalina de Alejandria Church in Carcar was built from 1860-1875.

A relief of a different church, this one with a single belfry, carved on the door of the sacristy and a bell dated 1810 suggest another stone structure had stood on the site of the current one in the early 19th century, revealed the Balaanong Bahandi.

Fr. Felipe Redondo, in his book Breve Reseña published in 1886, described the present-day church as made of mamposteria or cut stone, with three naves and roofed with tiles, and two bell towers incorporated in the facade.

The Carcar Church has a rectangular floor plan with a main nave and two side aisles. Its facade is divided into segments by cornices, and the pediment flanked by the topmost part of two bell towers.

Judas Iscariot image

Judas Iscariot is set apart from the life-size images of the other apostles.

A cross decorates the apex of the pediment and the two belfries.

Although some writers have described the Carcar Church bell towers as being capped by onion-shaped domes, their base is square instead of circular and the arch flat instead of full like those of the Roman Orthodox churches.

Balaanong Bahandi said the church’s architecture bears Graeco-Roman influences.

A massive recessed arch that occupies almost two-thirds of the facade’s height frames the main doors.

Angels decorate the arches inside the church. Like several other Spanish colonial churches, the one in Carcar also has a painted ceiling.

Angels decorate the arches inside the church. Like several other Spanish colonial churches, the one in Carcar also has a painted ceiling.

The Santa Catalina de Alejandria Parish was originally established as the convent of the La Visitacion de la Nuestra Señora on June 21, 1599, wrote another church historian, Fr. Pedro Galende, in his book Philippine Church Facades. This was in the coastal village of Sialo or Siaro, known today as Inayagan in Barangay Villadolid.

Frequent Moro raids prompted the transfer of the settlement to what is now the city center, known then as Mowag or Kabkad after the name of a fern which used to grow abundantly in the area, he added.

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Boljoon ready for tourists during Holy Week break

If you’re planning a Cebu trip during the Holy Week break and feel that the holiday island of Bantayan will be too crowded, you might want to consider Boljoon and…

If you’re planning a Cebu trip during the Holy Week break and feel that the holiday island of Bantayan will be too crowded, you might want to consider Boljoon and its neighboring towns in your travel itinerary.

Many tourists now consider Boljoon as an alternative Cebu destination during the Lenten season, Mayor Merlou Derama said.

It is not difficult to see why. Boljoon sits, like a postcard picture, on a narrow strip of land between the towering green mountainsides and bright blue seas.

Travelers come across Boljoon when the coastal road makes a sharp turn along a colossal promontory that hides the town from view. Boljoanons consider this natural rock formation one of the town’s landmarks and call it Ili Rock.

boljoon cebu

Boljoon sits, like a postcard picture, on a narrow strip of land between the mountain and the sea.

I’ve been to Boljoon several times but I’m never tired of the sight that greets me when our vehicle completes that bend in the road. From that spot some distance away from the town center, Boljoon is laid out in a picturesque marriage of land, sea, and mountain.

The town is also a jump-off point for travel to the nearby towns of Oslob with its whale shark watching attraction as well as Samboan and Santander, which are the last two towns south of Cebu island.

Boljoon attractions

This southeastern town was a prime target of Moro attacks in the early 17th up to the 19th century possibly in retaliation to Spain’s attempt to conquer and subjugate Mindanao, according to Paul Gerschwiler in his book “Bolhoon: A Cultural Sketch”.

He said one destructive raid that occurred in 1782 reduced the town to ashes – its houses and church burned – and prompted a Spanish priest assigned to the parish in 1802 to organize a proper defense system against the Moros.

boljoon church

The Patrocinio de Maria Church in Boljoon, completed in 1841, served both as place of worship and fortress during the Moro sieges.

The priest’s name was Fr. Julian Bermejo and he was behind many of the Spanish colonial structures that have become major Boljoon travel attractions.

These centuries-old buildings, located within the Parish Complex, are enclosed by almost intact ancient stone fortifications and include the Patrocinio de Maria Church, El Gran Baluarte, and rectory. Also worth visiting are the old cemetery walls and gate, American era edifice called Escuela Catolica, Plaza Bermejo, and museum.

Farther away from the town center, there are 19th century houses, an old spring called Baño sa Poblacion, and baluartes (watchtowers).

For more information about the town and its many attractions, we have a mobile web guide to the town as boljoon.myguide.ph.

Boljoon resorts

When it comes to accommodations, the town has a choice of seaside resorts and inns as well mountain retreats.

Many of these places are just by the sea or near it. They are affordable and easily accessed from the coastal road that runs through Boljoon.

Escuela Catolica

Escuela Catolica

Club Fort Med is nestled between the mountain and the sea. It is a combination of fine white sand, lush gardens, and quaint cottages on a hectare of seaside land. There is also the Granada beach house, which is an eight-bedroom rustic property set atop a cliff with a 180-degree view of Boljoon’s seas.

Since the beach is located about a kilometer from the main road and reached through a narrow winding road, it is secluded and very private.

Noordzee Hostel offers both budget rooms that appeal to backpackers. On its rooftop is the Noordzee Restobar which serves Dutch cuisine.

Palanas Farm and Resort distinguishes itself by its location, which is not by the seaboard but in a tranquil valley of the rural town. Getting to this mountain retreat is through a well-paved mountain road. For a list of more places to stay in Boljoon and what they have to offer, go to boljoon.myguide.ph.

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Rich symbolism in Argao’s St. Michael the Archangel Church

Like other Augustinian structures built in the late 18th century in the Philippines, the San Miguel Arcangel or St. Michael the Archangel Church of Argao is an edifice of impressive…

Like other Augustinian structures built in the late 18th century in the Philippines, the San Miguel Arcangel or St. Michael the Archangel Church of Argao is an edifice of impressive dimensions.

This structure set in stone is 72 meters long, 16 meters wide, and 10 meters high.

It is adjacent to the Argao town plaza and other Argao heritage structures like the Casa Real, Capilla Mortuario, Paso or Way of the Cross wall, and Hall of Justice building.

With its vaulted wooden ceiling that covers a simple nave and a transept that gives it a cruciform shape, the Argao church is typical of other Spanish colonial churches in the Philippines.

Paul Gerschwiler, who wrote about Argao history, described the construction as massive, with its “12 strong supporting buttresses reinforcing the walls and enhancing stability.”

argao church and belfry

The Saint Michael the Archangel Church and its belfry, in this photo taken from the Argao church’s courtyard.

The completion of this present-day Argao church can traced back to 1788, said the book Balaanong Bahandi, citing Archdiocesan Records.

Although another historian, Pedro Galende, attributed the current structure to Fr. Mateo Perez, which served as parish priest for 33 straight years from 1803 to 1806, the date “1788” engraved above the arch of the Argao church’s side door indicates it may have been completed during Fr. Francisco Espina’s time from 1782 to 1798, the book added.

Argao was one of eight vicarages established in 1599 and, while it became a town or mission pueblo as early as 1608, it was only set up as a parish over a hundred years later or in 1733, said the Balaanong Bahandi, adding the reason for this oversight was never adequately explained.

Argao church features

Originally, the San Miguel Arcangel Church had the typical Spanish clay tiles for its roof but this collapsed during the typhoon of November 25-26, 1876, wrote Gerschwiler. He said Argao native Msgr. Pablo Alcarez narrated that the tiles were replaced with galvanized iron in 1924 due to fear of earthquakes.

The church facade is a horizontal rectangle topped by a triangular pediment and divided into nine panels, a style that can be found only in five of over 160 documented Augustinian churches and all of them built along the southeastern coast of Cebu, according to Gerschwiler.

What distinguishes the San Miguel Arcangel Church, he added, is the high artistic quality and symbolism of its masonry, although Augustinian records had failed to identify many of the master carver-artists behind the structure’s artistic ornamentation.

It is clear from their work they were masters of their crafts, itinerant Chinese and Chinese-mestizos who were familiar with Christian themes and motifs as well as early Christian symbolism, according to Gerschwiler.

An example of such one-of-a-kind feature, he noted, is the four pairs of half columns that run up to the pediment and divide the facade into three panels.

“On the first level the paired columns stand on rectangular pedestals. The two outer pedestals depict lions sitting on their hind legs, holding a ball in each of their paws; a very typical Chinese motif,” wrote Gerschwiler in his historical outline.

The two pedestals flanking the main door each depict a bird, with its head down and wings spread out protectively, nursing three of its young that cling to their mother’s breast, he added in his description.

Rich ornamentation

Rich and elaborate ornamentation can be seen in the way the double cornices that horizontally divide the facade create an entablature when it intersects with Corinthian capitals richly decorated with floral motifs; atlante-angel carvings carry the paired half-columns running up to the pediment; a stylized peacock sits atop an orb; sequence of carvings of angels, fruits of the ivy, and a little snake run down the columns.

An example of the bas reliefs of angels and other Christian symbols that adorn the Argao church's facade.

An example of the bas reliefs of angels and other Christian symbols that adorn the Argao church’s facade.

“In a cascade if motifs, the artist carved his message…(he) thought this particular message to be so important and essential that he repeated it with slight variations on all half-columns of the first level, no less than eight times,” Gerschwiler said.

Four of the nine panels in the front face are particularly prominent, including the central panel of the pediment where St. Michael the Archangel, armed with spear and shield, and flanked by two angels – one carrying his standard as light bearer and the other holding the Tuba Christi of the Last Judgement – is depicted.

Its massive front and side doors made of vertically joined hardwood planks are integrated with smaller semicircular doors and decorated evenly with bronze rosettes embedded on the wood.

The church, according to the Balaanong Bahandi, has been the recipient of Baroque and semi-Rococo embellishments like its wooden pulpit and its pipe organ in the choir loft.

A wooden retablo of majestic proportions dominates the altar section but this has unfortunately been unnecessarily gilded, including even the centuries-old life-size estofado statues of saints enthroned in its niches, added the book.

Interior details

There are five altars or retablos inside the Argao church. The main one, which a priest decided to paint gold, has neo-baroque influences, said Gerschwiler. This altar has four niches: the lower level contains statues of the archangels St. Michael (center), St. Gabriel (right), and St. Raphael (left) while the center enshrines a sculpted image Center of the Virgin Mary.

Gerschwiler said the church’s pipe organ is one of three that remains in Cebu. It was believed installed in the second half of the 19th century and, although Mexican in design, used local materials so it was probably built locally, he wrote.

Argao church’s pipe organ has a total of 700 pipes and provided the organist with 22 different timbres, he added.

According to him, only the murals on the apse and transept of the vaulted ceiling can be attributed to famous 20th century Cebuano painter Raymundo Francia.

The four scenes span the whole width of the nave and transept at their crossing point and depict the battle between the fallen angels of Lucifer and the good angels of St. Michael, the temptation of Adam and Eve, and the fall of man. One scene can’t anymore be discerned.

There are two other altars with four semicircular statue niches with round arches bearing ornamentation of Chinese influences and Moorish arabesques.

He described the pulpit as made up of rectangular recessed planes angled against each other and on them are painted wooden reliefs of (in clockwise direction) evangelist St. Luke, the evangelist St. Mark, the Virgin Mary, the evangelist St. John, and the evangelist St. Matthew.

Church historian Galende describes the three-level campanario or belfry erected in 1830 as “one of the best in the Philippines.” It rests on a solid and thick wall base and has small rectangular openings. It used to house nine bells and the earliest one brought there, Santa Barbara, was founded in 1875.

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Top Bohol destinations included in Travel Village day tour

It took longer to reach some of Bohol’s popular tourist spots and attractions because of the damage to some roads and bridges but they are open and welcoming visitors again….

It took longer to reach some of Bohol’s popular tourist spots and attractions because of the damage to some roads and bridges but they are open and welcoming visitors again.

The drive to the famous Bohol destination named Chocolate Hills took two hours because of road diversions and the viewing deck built atop one of the 1,268 mounds was destroyed by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake on October 15, 2013.

Fortunately, another observatory had been constructed in Carmen before the quake.

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Bohol attractions reopen after 7.2-magnitude quake

There’s no better proof that quake-stricken Bohol is slowly getting back on its feet than moves showing it is back to welcoming tourists to its many attractions. Although the viewing…

There’s no better proof that quake-stricken Bohol is slowly getting back on its feet than moves showing it is back to welcoming tourists to its many attractions.

Although the viewing deck on top of one of the Chocolate Hills was destroyed, a recently opened tourist site provides a vantage view of the famous Bohol landmark, an assessment of SuperCat ferry operator 2GO showed.

This new site that has recently joined the list of Bohol attractions is called the Chocolate Hills Adventure Park.

It is a nature park with a coffee shop and a serpentarium.

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