12 Jan2009

boljoon1

Once we finished with our market visit at Mantalongon (at say 830am), we decided to head further south along the Eastern coast of Cebu, down to the town of Boljoon. I had never been this far South before, and I had been meaning to visit the centuries old church at Boljoon, so this seemed like a good opportunity. I am so glad we made the detour South as this was a gem that had fallen into disrepair and is now being restored to some of its former glory…

boljoon5

Located in a beautiful and serene cove with just a narrow amount of land between the sea and the rocky hills behind, Boljoon is a town that traces its history back a good 400-500+ years. At some point, it was frequently being raided by pirates from the South and when the Spaniards were in power, a whole series of watch towers along the coast were set up to warn of invaders. Boljoon has a watch tower not just near the church but also some 200+ meters up in the hills behind the church.

boljoon2

This particular structure seems to date back to the late 1700′s, after earlier structures were burned or destroyed, so this church is some 230+ years old. Rather simple in design with a clay roof made from materials in the hills nearby, it is nevertheless a wonderful example of the many churches that dotted the Eastern coast of Cebu during the Spanish period.

boljoon3

The church was closed the day we arrived in Boljoon, but some locals very generously offered to summon the caretaker who then allowed us to enter the church to have a look around. the first thing that strikes you when you enter the church is a beautifully painted wooden ceiling. Much of the church is quite literally falling apart, but an impressive effort is being undertaken by a group of local residents to restore the church to its former glory. The weightly roof of hand-made tiles is slowly being replaced with tiles made from the same material, in the manner that the original tiles were also crafted. The windows of the church and interiors will be fixed next, as funds are raised for this historical preservation…

boljoon4

An ornate pulpit for the priest to deliver his sermon, before the days of speakers and microphones…

boljoon8

A snapshot of the nearby living quarters of the priests and other church staff from years past.

boljoon9

A beautiful altar, many of the santos and other pieces stolen over the years.

boljoon7

Samples of the new tiles that were made the same way as the original tiles laid 200+ years ago.

boljoon6

It really upsets me how so much of our historical/heritage like structures are deteriorating and disappearing as a result of a lack of funds and resources to maintain them… Boljoon church is but one example of this. And here there is already an active group of local concerned citizens who are making a concerted effort to restore their wonderful church. I realize it costs millions and millions of pesos to preserve places such as this, but it would still be very high up on my priority list of things to do… If you would like to help, the appropriate contact addresses and numbers of the Boljoon Heritage Foundation are in the final photo, above. I know the gentleman who leads the preservation effort, though I didn’t forewarn him that I would visit the church, and his wife is a regular reader of this blog, and I can tell you he is leading a very laudable effort indeed.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Adam says:

    Hello MM

    Last year we embarked on a road trip around Cebu and Negros. The southern end of Cebu (from Argao on the East coast round to Moalboal on the West coast) is spectacularly beautiful and there are dozens of places just like Boljoon at which to stop off and visit. I would recommend the journey to anyone with an interest in travelling slowly around the islands….

    ps not too sure about the ‘pigs in blankets’ photos. Made me feel a bit uneasy!

    Jan 12, 2009 | 5:31 pm

     
  2. Ley says:

    Thanks for featuring the Boljoon church MM. Its restoration is indeed a herculean task and may take a generation to complete but the Boljoon Heritage Foundation is taking an important step towards its full restoration. Hubby dreams that someday, our children will see its full restoration and then he can proudly tell them he was a force behind the foundation. Boljoanons are particularly proud of their place. There is even a Boljoanon organization in the US and another in Manila which celebrate the town’s annual fiesta for those who cannot make it back home.

    The Suroy Suroy sa Sugbo program of the Cebu Provincial government is intended raise the awareness that there is a lot more to Cebu than its metropolis.

    Jan 12, 2009 | 5:46 pm

     
  3. ging says:

    Hi MM. I’m surprised they allowed you to take photos. I thought it was S.O.P. not to allow picture taking inside churches, especially of the altar. My cousin who is a parish priest said it’s no longer allowed because it’s the modus of antique robbers. They show the photo to collectors who then “order” the items they want. Some just ask for hands of saints. No wonder many churches in southern Cebu have lost many of their treasures. One church even had it’s brass bell stolen.

    Jan 12, 2009 | 7:59 pm

     
  4. maricar says:

    thanks for this feature…the altar is really nice. i could just imagine the peace you feel once you enter this church.

    Jan 12, 2009 | 8:23 pm

     
  5. Marketman says:

    ging, I took photos at several churches on this trip. There was never anyone who asked me not to take photos, nor signs to that effect. I never used a flash and only natural light. It’s kind of hard to ban photos in churches as weddings would then have no momentos inside the church. As for the antique robbers, there is a special place near molten lava for them. And increasingly, I am feeling that way about folks who buy the stuff. My grandmother was a huge collector of antiques, but since she passed away, we have returned many obviously church sourced pieces back to churches or church museums in Cebu, where they probably belong.

    Jan 12, 2009 | 8:32 pm

     
  6. Homebuddy says:

    Being from Cebu, I have never been to the places you have featured these past days and good to learn new things from your blog. I would surely be on my list of places to visit one of these days, “para wag maging dayuhan sa sariling bayan” :-)

    Jan 12, 2009 | 8:51 pm

     
  7. corrine says:

    This church is impressive. I hope these folks will be able to get the support they need to restore it. There’s also a beautiful old church in Bohol that is in bad need of restoration. Sayang talaga! But even the San Agustin Church in Intramuros is not properly maintained to think that is so beautiful!

    Jan 12, 2009 | 9:08 pm

     
  8. New Yorker says:

    Kudos to the Boljoon Heritage Foundation for their efforts in preserving the church.

    The church reminds me of an old church in medieval Obidos, Portugal. The church also had painted wooden ceilings and a terracotta tile roof. Stepping inside an old structure gives one a sense of awe and appreciation of the beauty, craftsmanship and history of the place.

    Jan 12, 2009 | 9:59 pm

     
  9. millet says:

    that is so beautiful!

    Jan 12, 2009 | 10:20 pm

     
  10. diday says:

    Jan 12, 2009 | 10:37 pm

     
  11. mikel says:

    wow!

    Jan 13, 2009 | 12:11 am

     
  12. Maria Clara says:

    In my personal view, the Vatican should be involved in maintaining the church since it’s the mother of all the churches regardless where the location of the church is. Low revenue church must be supported by revenue producing churches. In other word – redistribute their income. Vatican has tons of money. Boljoon Church passed the test of times and economy. The altar still has its grandeur and ornate-centric beauty.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 3:44 am

     
  13. sonia says:

    thanks for calling attention to this beauty of a church set in such an idyllic place. i must congratulate the people behind the foundation which aims to restore and preserve the church. the first thing of course is to ensure that nothing more is lost of what remains in the church. it will take a huge amount of money to restore the church but we are blessed that the foundation seems undaunted by the task facing them.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 5:47 am

     
  14. Mimi says:

    Speaking of churches, there is another church that is in need of your help in the Bicol region.

    The Sto. Domingo Church in Albay is in need of major maintenance. Here is the letter from the parish priest:

    “For almost 190 years, the Church of St. Dominic of Guzman located in Sto. Domingo, Albay has been a symbol that reflects the Parish community’s history, ingenuity, perseverance and faith. The church is the pride and center of the town.
    But with time and numerous typhoons and volcanic eruptions from Mt. Mayon, the church edifice has been badly damaged and has deteriorated. Immediate repair of the ceiling and roof is needed.
    We are praying for your generous help to defray the huge cost needed for this project.”
    From: Rev. Fr. Manuel B. BALUTE, Parish Priest

    You can send check or money order donations via registered mail to:
    PARISH OF ST. DOMINIC OF GUZMAN
    Sto. Domingo, Albay
    4508 PHILIPPINES

    OR
    deposit to Development Bank of the Philippines, DBP SS Account #0615-186396-160.

    Any amount is humbly appreciated.
    —–

    From the municipal profile:

    Sto. Domingo Church – The most prominent landmark, the Catholic Church built in 1820, stands proudly at the center of poblacion. It is massively built with solid squared stone walls unsupported by pillars and has two dome-shaped belfries. As cement was not yet used during that time, a mixture of lime, egg albumin and “tangguli” (molasses) served as binder and hardener. Most significantly, the church was built through forced labor with the workers shedding not only sweat but tears and blood and some even their lives.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 6:42 am

     
  15. emy medina says:

    thanks…beautiful photos …i’m still recovering from the piggie pics

    Jan 13, 2009 | 7:11 am

     
  16. Pete says:

    Nice photo of the church doors !

    Jan 13, 2009 | 9:43 am

     
  17. boljo-anon says:

    Marketman, thank you for having featured the Church of Patrocinio de Maria in your blog. This feature will raise people’s awareness of our church and our efforts in restoring such rare national cultural treasure and national cultural landmark. By the way, our church has been recently inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. Another reason why we should restore it.
    We have a very tall order in restoring our church. Thanks to the words of encouragement of your readers. These will lift the spirit of the people involved in our restoration movement.
    Ging, our church does not impose a ban on taking pictures of the church interior. Its beauty is for every visitor to appreciate and to bring home (through the cameras).
    Maria Clara, I agree that the Vatican should be very pro-active in restoring its treasures such as our church. More than the financial support, the best way the Vatican could play this role is to educate the priests on the value of restoration. Per our experience, the worst threat to old heritage churches such as ours, are the priests who have the “edifice complex”. They don’t have regard to the value of these structures and during their incumbency in the parishes, they would introduce so many alterations and revisions, suiting their whims and caprices. This is primarily the reason why the Boljoon Heritage Foundation, Inc. was created…. to arrest the unbridled passion of priests assigned to our parish in introducing alterations to the church’s original feature (and in selling precious antique items of the church to antique collectors).
    Thanks to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) for funding the Detailed Engineering Study and Restoration Plan of our church, now we have a set of restoration blueprints for every priest to follow. Cardinal Vidal and the Archdiocese of Cebu had committed to strictly abide with these plans. Thus, no priest in Boljoon can allow a Jollibee or McDonald inside the church premises.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 10:16 am

     
  18. Blaise says:

    I’m really looking forward to go to Cebu this Holy Week. I hope I will have the chance to go to the Southern area, as I will be staying with my friend,who is from the Northern part of Cebu

    Jan 13, 2009 | 12:08 pm

     
  19. diday says:

    Jan 13, 2009 | 1:39 pm

     
  20. Andrei says:

    Hi MM!

    I was also in Cebu last December to attend a barkada’s wedding, and I got to do a (long) road trip with my cousin exploring the whole scenic southern coastline highway and towns. Thanks to your blog, I knew what to buy in Carcar (yummy pain-in-the-nape chicharon), and I managed to grab a torta (which was oily and the slightly sour aftertaste from the basi, I suppose) in a town whose name escapes me as of the moment. I also got to this this very same church, as well as the beautiful church in Dalaguete(?) that I fell in love with. But the surprise of that day for me was seeing a free wifi-zone zone sign in the middle of plaza by the coast! If only I didn’t leave my laptop in the hotel room…hehehehe

    Jan 13, 2009 | 1:45 pm

     
  21. boljo-anon says:

    For a detailed information on the history of the church, please refer to this site: http://heritageconservation.wordpress.com/2006/07/27/boljoon-church/

    Jan 13, 2009 | 2:49 pm

     
  22. marissewalangkaparis says:

    So educational. Beautiful Cebu–in the rural areas….hope I can visit this place one day.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 6:14 pm

     
  23. terrey says:

    the last time my family and i had a trip down southern Cebu was like 20-25 years ago…it was beautiful then as it is now. hope to have a road trip again this year.

    Jan 13, 2009 | 7:02 pm

     
  24. Maki says:

    I’ve been there when I was just 15, I really like the place, specially the old cemetery at the back… And not to mention the view of the ocean in front of it.. very country.. nice

    Jan 14, 2009 | 1:44 am

     
  25. Mikey says:

    Used to be that mere mention of “spanish colonial” would conjure up images of Ilocos. It is really very refreshing to see the rich architectural heritage of the Visayas. I am also very happy to know that there are people who are intent on preserving history.

    Jan 14, 2009 | 12:33 pm

     
  26. Crissy says:

    Post card pretty! During my trips home, family would wonder why I am awestruck by our old churches. Well here is another reason why! I’ve had this idea in my head for a fundraiser for all the restoration efforts. If each church sold a terra cotta tile which molded or cast a figure. santo or architectural detail that was unique to that church, it would be a great fundraiser and a meaningful keepsake. Over time, one could amass a collection and use it decoratively. Certainly beats buying religious kitsch for souvenirs. Alas, I am not in the Philippines. But mover and shaker that you are MM, do you think its worth a shot?

    Jan 14, 2009 | 3:14 pm

     
  27. VennisJean says:

    Love Boljoon,my partner (his family by the way) are in Boljoon,I’ve been there 3x and it is relly nice.The first time I went to the Church and the museum I was really excited…I saw and even got a chance to take pictures of the vestments of the priests that are over a hundred year old, they even have the list of kura paroko way back in the 1800′s.I was even lucky enough to get a glimpse of what is inside Escuela Cattolica (just beside the museum). We went to the plaze and we dived there too…..Boljoon also has very beautiful diving spots.Its wonderful of you MM for taking the time to show others the beauty of some parts of Cebu that would otherwise be unknown to the world

    Jan 16, 2009 | 2:11 am

     
  28. bottomsup says:

    My mom grew up in Boljoon. =) Might be worth mentioning too that many believe the Patricinio de Maria is said to be very miraculous. My mom says anyone who wishes to have a baby girl can try to pray in this Church and participate in the annual processions come November in conjunction with the town fiesta, as the locals faithfully believe that the Patrocinio de Maria grants wishes for baby girls. I am her living proof… =)

    Jan 20, 2009 | 10:58 am

     
  29. wowboljoon says:

    sir we would like to ask permission that we linked in your site to the site of boljoon… thank you!!!

    Feb 7, 2009 | 6:45 am

     
  30. Marketman says:

    wowboljoon, yes, please feel free to link to this site…

    Feb 7, 2009 | 9:47 am

     
  31. maecel says:

    nice kaayo ang inyo place……….

    Mar 7, 2009 | 3:29 pm

     
  32. sheellamarie says:

    for its a very nice place among those other provinces cause boljoon is unique………… i really want to go there ….
    after i graduate my course…… thanx…. for the photos

    Mar 7, 2009 | 3:31 pm

     
  33. elaine pepino says:

    hi kamuzta n ang boljoanon last nako paguli diha atong pagkamatay sa akong papa alepio pro gus2 ko mouli usab diha syempre lugar gun n nako i mz u boljoon

    Mar 11, 2009 | 11:38 pm

     
  34. Marissa says:

    Common thieves do not climb up a high ceiling and steal a whole set of church chandeliers, or rip up a communion rail solidly attached to the floor. There are few police blotter reports, but looking at the time of disappearance of these and other antiques in churches all over the country, we can conclude it was the incumbent parish priest who sold them to agents of antiques shops and collectors to for his personal gain.
    If such sales were for “improvements” why are the statue frames in Boljoon church shockingly termite-eaten? The Philippine Catholic church turns a blind eye to criminals in priest robes, are superiors getting a share of sale proceeds that run to millions?
    If the priest claims theft, parishioners should check if the theft is blottered, and demand a church investigation as well. Also, it appears seminary curriculums do not teach basics on church design. After renovation old churches look like prisons, factories, and hotel lobbies and old-world coral tiles are covered with ugly concrete. Our Romanesque Dumaguete cathedral’s altar ceiling is now Gothic with a provincial fiesta bakla-style exaggerated curlicued centerpiece which does not go with the rest of the building. The wall paint peeled off months after the salamabitch contractor used the wrong paint. The baduy altar looks like an over-embellished 1950′s bakla beauty salon in pink and gold. Architects should be on heritage boards to pre-approve any designs, so no more money will be wasted on sickening eyesore decor we have to face every mass. The formerly romantic Bacong, Neg. Oriental coral tile church walls are no more. What more will these ignoramuses do? They steal heritage, replace it with zero taste and call it improvement.

    Apr 13, 2009 | 9:52 pm

     
  35. Lauren V.Villareal says:

    My grandfather’s uncle was the one who painted the ceiling. He said he still remembers holding up the paint cans for his uncle. The ceiling is the most beautiful piece of art I have seen and I really hope it is restored to look as beautiful as it did back then.

    Apr 14, 2009 | 10:55 am

     
  36. steve says:

    I am English Artist… I would like to do something to help and if anyone wants to contact me with ideas then please do…

    LAuren V Villareal..

    your Grandfathers Uncle painted the ceiling?? amazing… I would love to know more about him if possible…

    These churches need to be restored. for the people of the Philippines.

    steve.. lionsteve@hotmail.com

    May 8, 2009 | 5:46 am

     
  37. Ellen May Diaz says:

    I never realized that Boljoon has such a very nice church. I shouldn’t have known this if I wasn’t searching for a link to locate my long lost yaya (nanny). yes this true, she took care of me for 18 years (as far as i remember) and i’m already 27 now and been out of the country for more than 6 years now. Since then, I haven’t heard any news from her since then. i’ve searched for some links and websites just to know how to find and reach her. The only thing I remember is she leaves nearby the church. And so the internet brought me to your site… I know this is way too far from the topic you discuss here but i’m so desperate already coz i wanted soooo much to know how she is. Well, I guess it’s payback time. I just want to see her and spend my time with her when i go for vacation hopefully this year. Please, if anyone knows her, i would really appreciate your help. Her name is MANDING MODESTA SESALDO, maybe she’s on her 50-60′s now, she has a daughter, Ate Caroline who married a German. If anyone has information(especially her contact number) regarding my yaya, please email me at elen_babeh2003@yahoo.com. thank you, thank you, thank you…
    and God bless…

    Apr 19, 2010 | 6:10 pm

     
 

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