And for our final visit report to the Philippines until the next time, we’re closing the circle that we began with the Baroque Churches of the Philippines World Heritage Site by reporting on the collection of additional churches to be added to it that are on the Philippines’ Tentative List:
1) Church complex of Patrocinio de Maria, Boljo-on (Cebu)
The Augustinian Friars built the church of Patrocinio de Maria in the 18th century. The church and convent still uses clay roof tiles for its roof. The complex was a fortress church. With in the complex are; block house at the front left side of the complex served as a watch tower, a school at the left rear side built in the 1940’s, series of wall ruins, and an 18th century cemetery. Numerous church artifacts are intact. The ceiling painting was done by local painters in the 1920’s. The church walls are made of coral stone. The façade is ornamented with ecclesiastic symbols. A pipe organ was installed in the 19th century at the choir loft.
2) Church of La Inmaculada Concepcion, Guiuan (Samar)
The present church was first built by the Jesuit Missionaries in the 18th Century, later was taken over by the Franciscan Friars. The church complex is a fortress. Numerous parts of the church interior are decorated with seashells. It is unique in the country. The church still has its original front door, retablos, statues, and other church artifacts. The walls are made of coral stone.
3) Church complex of San Pedro Apostol, Loboc (Bohol)
The present church was first erected by the Jesuit Missionaries in the 18th century, then later taken over by the Augustinian Recollects who had there share of construction. The church complex is near the river and is composed of; the church structure, a three storey convent, a bell tower situated about 50 meters away from the front and a mortuary chapel at the complex’s left side. The Jesuits designed the church with an intricately designed façade (though unfinished), every window has cherub designs under the opening. The Augustinian Recollects added a portico façade, buttresses, the bell tower and the mortuary chapel. The interior has; 18th and 19thcenturies retablos, ceiling of the church is painted by indigenous artisans in the 1920’s, a 19thcentury pipe organ (restored in 2001). In the 19th century, the roof of the church is made of clay roof tiles. The walls are made of coral stone.
The convent is L-shaped with three floors, and is located at the rear end of the church. The third floor of the convent is connected to the church. The convent shows different periods of construction. The main hall of the convent, located at the second floor, has a Victorian interior, the walls have paintings, the ceiling is made of fabricated tin panels. The third level of the convent is used as a museum of church artifacts. Numerous areas of the convent are dilapidated due to its non-use. Also found at the rear of the convent, resembling a pool.
4) Church complex of San Isidro Labrador, Lazi (Siquijor)
The church complex was built by the Augustinian Recollects in the latter half of the 19th century. The church has two pulpits, the original retablos, and wood floors with herringbone pattern. The church walls are approximately a meter thick, The walls are reinforced with log post which are embedded in the wall. The façade is veneered with coral stone, while the rest is made of fill. The pediments of the church are made of wood panels.
Across the church is a large convent, which was used for rest and recreation of the Friars. It is a U-shape structure, with stonewalls at the first level, and wood studs and panels at the second floor. The convent has width of about 50 meters and a depth of about 50 meters. Most of the partitions of the convent have been removed, but the design elements are seen in most parts of the structure.
5) Church of San Mattias, Tumauini (Isabela)
The church walls are made entirely of brick. The façade is a magnificent display of the use ornamented brick laid out in characteristic design. Customized bricks were numbered, and placed customized to fit the walls. The interior of the church, similar to the façade is veneered with ornamented bricks. The upper half of the interior wall is laid with ornately designed brick blocks.
The bell tower of the church is cylindrical. The complex is fenced with brick walls, which is also ornamented like the rest of the church. The convent, located at the Gospel side of the church is now in ruins.
Of the five, we managed to make it to two: First was on the way out to the Chocolate Hills, where the road conveniently went straight through Loboc and directly past San Pedro Apostol, which you can see above…
… and you may have noticed appears to be in a state of disrepair. Which it is. A severe state of disrepair:
That’s due to the 2013 earthquake that brought down a number of heritage churches in the Bohol area. As you can see, there’s an active rehabilitation project underway, but in the meantime, the attractiveness of the visit is … limited.
The other one we made it to was the first stop on the Luzon drive, just before the visit to Callao Cave — the Church of San Mattias in Tumauini:
This one is definitely in good repair and actively used — as was a regular occurence on our church visits, why yes there was a wedding going on here as we were visiting!
Seriously, that happened at like five out of the eight. Apparently we hit high wedding season in the Philippines, or a remarkable set of coincidences. Not that we’re any stranger to remarkable coincidences mind you, but those are stories for another day…
The churches included in the inscribed World Heritage Site are definitely the A list of the Philippines’ heritage churches; the five tentative additions in this extension are worth a visit if you’re in the neighbourhood we’d say, but no need to make them a particularly high priority unless you’re really into your historic churches!