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…
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.
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.
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…
An ornate pulpit for the priest to deliver his sermon, before the days of speakers and microphones…
A snapshot of the nearby living quarters of the priests and other church staff from years past.
A beautiful altar, many of the santos and other pieces stolen over the years.
Samples of the new tiles that were made the same way as the original tiles laid 200+ years ago.
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.