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Cebu

Campanario de Antigua

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.

The watchtower in Samboan is located over 200 feet above sea level.

When it was constructed in 1878 under the supervision of then parish priest Toribio Gerzon, coral stone slabs were used for its foundation and walls and terracotta tiles for the roof.

It was built on a plateau that was the nucleus of the Spanish settlement in Samboan beginning in the 17th century.

Now the location of the town center, the flat hilltop also hosts the Municipal Hall and other local government buildings, St. Michael Archangel Church and belltower, Samboan Museum, and a small picturesque plaza.

A series of stone steps hand-carved on the side of the hill connects the coastal area with the plateau.

Called the Escala de Jacob or Jacob’s Ladder, the staircase ends at the foot of the watchtower. Before the coastal road that snakes around the island of Cebu was built, the steps reached as far down as the shore.

Samboan’s Campanario de Antigua faces the Tañon Strait. A 1970 photo of the watchtower owned by the Filipinas Heritage Library showed the structure to be in ruins, without a roof and with only one side of the square base and the two pillars remaining.

The three-storey Samboan watchtower has been restored to its former glory, with stone walls, sturdier flooring and steps leading to the two higher levels, and wooden railings.

Visitors may go up to the watchtower’s third level for a breathtaking vista of the town center, sea, and neighboring islands.

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Cebu

Escala de Jacob

This flight of steps in Samboan that goes all the way down to the coastal highway is called Jacob’s Ladder or Escala de Jacob.

It was named after Jacob, the biblical ancestor of the 12 tribes of Israel who in his dream saw a ladder extending all the way from earth to heaven, explained the Filipinas Heritage Library.

Before the coastal highway that snakes around the island of Cebu was constructed, the steps that ascend up to the town center, which is located on a plateau over 200 feet high, began on the seashore. A portion of the stairway was demolished to make way for the coastal road.

Built in 1878 upon the instruction of then parish priest Fr. Toribio Gerzon, the hand-carved staircase of flat stones and lime was intended to make it easier for parishioners in the low-lying areas to attend mass.

Like any Spanish settlement in the Philippines, the central complex was where all the important buildings were located. In the case of the Philippine pueblos, the blueprint was for the settlement center to host the church, rectory, municipal hall, and plaza.

In the case of Samboan, the St. Michael Archangel Parish Church was built atop the plateau and best accessed from the lowlands through the Escala de Jacob.

The staircase, now made up of 147 steps, immediately ends at the town’s three-storey Campanario de Antigua (Ancient Watchtower).

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Cebu

Museo de Samboan

For its cultural treasures and heritage memorabilia, Samboan finds a fitting repository in what used to be the town’s old municipal hall.

The Museo de Samboan was inaugurated during the town’s fiesta celebration in 2010. It displays stoneware and pottery, wooden implements and tools, celadons, and religious artifacts.

Some of the relics exhibited – such as Chinese pottery – date back to even before the Spanish colonial period.

Paintings of local artists like Benji Goyha, John Dinglasa, Mimitz Carredo, Lito Nellas, and Roel Fisalbon are also displayed in several galleries.

Another feature of the museum are wooden handicrafts fashioned in the workshop of French exporter Fabrice Desvaux. These were created by native craftsmen.

Prior to its conversion as the town’s two-storey museum, the building was used for a time as the municipal jail and a storage facility by an electric cooperative.

The town ceased using it as a Municipal Hall when the new one beside it was completed.

Prior to its conversion as a two-storey museum, the building had to be stripped of its cement finishing to reveal the original coral stone block walls underneath.

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Cebu

San Guillermo Parish Museum

Throughout the centuries, the San Guillermo Parish Church has accumulated treasures that serve as proof and reminder of the devout faith of Dalaguetnons and their high reverence for religious symbols and images.

These are now housed at a space in the old rectory that has been converted into the San Guillermo Parish museum.

Many of the religious artifacts and relics date back to the 1800s and include a chandelier, carousel, and ciborium in silver; long carved benches made from the hardwood of the Magkono tree and vestment cabinets that are over three centuries old; confession box from the same period; and wooden ceremonial chairs.

The museum was put up during the stint of Msgr. Phil James Tumulak, just a year before Dalaguete celebrated in 2011 the 300th anniversary of the founding of the parish.

An old canvas painting of the Last Supper, Ecce Homo image, a missal with lock from the early 1900s, musical instruments, and earthenware jars are other museum treasures.

A cabinet keeps the old records of the parish containing details of baptism, confirmation, marriages, and deaths from as far back as the early 1800s.

Categories
Cebu

San Guillermo Parish Museum

Throughout the centuries, the San Guillermo Parish Church has accumulated treasures that serve as proof and reminder of the devout faith of Dalaguetnons and their high reverence for religious symbols and images.

These are now housed at a space in the old rectory that has been converted into the San Guillermo Parish museum.

Many of the religious artifacts and relics date back to the 1800s and include a chandelier, carousel, and ciborium in silver; long carved benches made from the hardwood of the Magkono tree and vestment cabinets that are over three centuries old; confession box from the same period; and wooden ceremonial chairs.

The museum was put up during the stint of Msgr. Phil James Tumulak, just a year before Dalaguete celebrated in 2011 the 300th anniversary of the founding of the parish.

An old canvas painting of the Last Supper, Ecce Homo image, a missal with lock from the early 1900s, musical instruments, and earthenware jars are other museum treasures.

A cabinet keeps the old records of the parish containing details of baptism, confirmation, marriages, and deaths from as far back as the early 1800s.

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Cebu

Museo dela Parroquia de San Miguel

Established upon the behest of the late Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal in 1999, the Argao Parish Museum houses the town’s religious treasures.

Msgr. Jose S. Montecillo, the parish priest at the time, had just transferred to Argao so he tasked his classmate Msgr. Elias Matarlo with the job. Matarlo is a native of Argao and the 44th priest produced by the town.

Matarlo then went about setting up the Museo dela Parroquia de San Miguel, which is a member of the Visayan Association of Museums and Galleries, Inc. (VAMGI).

An undated archival photo of the Argao convent, which houses the museum. (Photo from the University of San Carlos Cebuano Studies Center.)
An undated archival photo of the Argao convent, which houses the museum. (Photo from the University of San Carlos Cebuano Studies Center.)

Museum treasures

A centerpiece display in the museum is the larger than life sculpture of the archangel Michael, wings spread and sword raised, standing over the fallen Lucifer. The image used to adorn Argao’s San Miguel de Arcangel Parish Church and was paraded around in a carroza during religious activities but had to be kept in a safe place when it sustained damages, according to museum staff Myrgrid Mamites.

Other relics and artifacts include: ecclesiastical vestments of long ago

The museum is open from:
Friday to Sunday or Thursday to Saturday (in case of Sunday parish meetings)
9:00 am-12:00 pm
1:00 pm-4:00 pm

It may be opened any other day by prior arrangement.

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Cebu

Boljoon Parish Museum

In the early days of the visita of Boljoon, people tell of a mysterious painting of Mary and the Child Jesus that once decorated the first ermita or chapel.

The painter and date of the painting are unknown but the subjects are visibly of European countenance. Paul Gerschwiler, in his book Bolhoanon: A Cultural Sketch, said it is entirely possible the painting was brought here by Spanish missionaries as it was common practice for them to bring along European artifacts.

It’s now stored in the Boljoon Parish Museum, located on the ground level of the rectory that is attached to the Patrocinio de Maria Church, and forms part of the town’s cultural and religious treasures.

Museum treasures

Opened on November 11, 2006, the museum houses such religious relics as 1800 liturgical vestments and carved images of saints, teneblasan (trapezoidal candle holder), old Vesperas music sheets, Lumen Christi candle holders, altar flower arrangements made of nautilus shells (before fresh flowers used), and sacra (altar cards that serve as notes for priest celebrant).

It also displays the findings from archeological digs made just in front of its 18th century church. Artifacts unearthed during the dig include jewelry and ceramic jars, bowls, and plates of Chinese and Japanese origins. The pieces were found in burial sites that had been carbon dated in the US to between 1529-1619.

Opening details

Boljoon’s museum was opened by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia with then Mayor Deogenes Derama and Atty. Edmund Villanueva, who was president of the town’s heritage foundation during celebrations marking the 407th feast day of the Nuestra Señora Virgen del Patrocinio.

Architect Melva Rodriguez-Java prepared the architectural plans and display mounts while Jojo Reynes Bersales created the exhibit design, research, and descriptions with the assistance of Serafin L. Senajon and graphic artist Joel Olivares.

Opening hours:
Every Tuesday to Sunday
9:00 a.m. to 12 p.m.
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Categories
Cebu

San Miguel Archangel Parish Church

Built in 1842, the San Miguel Arcangel (St. Michael Archangel) Church in this southern Cebu town has served the people of Samboan for close to 200 years.

Fr. Felipe Redondo, church historian, described the Samboan Church in his book Breve Reseña published in 1886 as a building made of mamposteria with only one nave, quite unlike other Spanish-built structures of worship in Cebu which are cruciform in design.

The edifice also distinguishes itself by its bare facade, bereft of the bas relief and other embellishments present in many other colonial churches.

Except for the four urn-like finials found above the horizontal cornice that serves as the pediment’s base and the niche for the patron saint above the semi-circular arched entrance, the Samboan Church’s face is devoid of decorations.

The structure’s interior as well is characterized by utter simplicity. The indoor design is plain and uncomplicated and it is this that lends this church a prayerful atmosphere.

Permanent structure

From being a visita of Barili, Samboan became an independent parish early on in 1784. However, the construction of a more permanent church – out of coral stones and the best of hardwood – happened only in 1842 under the stewardship of Fr. Romualdo Avila.

Fr. Redondo, who visited and documented Catholic churches in a book published in 1886, wrote that the edifice in Samboan has tile roofing and lime mortar floors. Attached to the right side of the church, he added, is a bell tower also made of mamposteria or coral stone slabs.

The structure underwent reconstruction in 1915 under Fr. Ubalde Enriquez, but there is no record of the extent of work done and the alterations that were implemented.

Visible on a portion of the interior wall are the holes that mark what was once the beams of a pulpit but has now disappeared, according to the book Balaanong Bahandi.

Church interior

It added that the retablo appears to be recently painted but the woodwork is clearly of colonial origin.

According to the book, the church flooring of black and white machuca tiles done in chevron and harlequin patterns dates back to the 1930s. Still intact too is the choir loft supported by massive pillars of coral stone and lime mortar.

Since the Samboan Church was built on a plateau about 65 meters above sea level, a stairway made of flat stones and lime was built on the side of the hill in 1878 to make it easier for town parishioners coming from the coastal area to go to mass.

Called Jacob’s Ladder or Escala de Jacob, the staircase of 147 steps is still the easiest way to get to the town center from the lowlands.

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Cebu

San Gabriel Arcangel Parish Church

Once, this Church of St. Gabriel the Archangel (San Gabriel Arcangel) in Santander overlooked the sea.

For some reason, however, the Santander Church’s orientation was changed 180 degrees so it now faces the highway with the sea behind it.

The renovation started in the 1950s and went on well into the 1970s, according to the Cebu Archdiocese Book “Balaanong Bahandi.”

If you go around back, you can still see the coral stone base of the old bell tower.

Defense frontline

The church belfry was an integral part of Boljoon parish priest Julian Bermejo’s extensive network of watchtowers. Its bells rang to warn settlers of impending pirate raids, added the Balaanong Bahandi.

Its location on the southernmost tip of mainland Cebu means it was on the frontline of the defense system put up by Bermejo in the first half of the1800s, added the book, citing its proximity to Negros, Siquijor, and Mindanao.

Bermejo’s network of watchtowers was so effective that it helped end in the 1850s the constant pillaging of coastal towns by pirate raiders.

Young parish

Santander was separated from its matriz Oslob into a parish in 1898. Its first parish priest was Fr. Gregorio de Santiago.

Although relatively young compared to other parishes in Cebu, the town’s history as a visita goes back four centuries.

Back when it was still called Tañon or Tañong, it was the last of eight vicarages established under the parish of Sialo (now Valladolid), Carcar in 1599. It became a visita of Boljoon when the latter was made into a parish.

When Oslob became a parish separate from Boljoon, Tañon was placed under its administration as a visita. Its name had been changed to Santander.

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Cebu

Inmaculada Concepcion Parish

Built through the benefice of the King of Spain, the Inmaculada Concepcion Parish Church in Oslob took around 17 years to finish.

Proof of this is a relief of the Spanish monarch’s seal on the church pediment encircled by text stating that “His Excellency and Most Illustrious Lord Santos Gomes Marañon made the plan for this Church which was began on the 10th of May in the year 1830.”

The construction was deemed finished after 17 years of labor on September 15, 1847.

Visita of Carcar

Oslob was once a visita of Sialo, the old name of Valladolid, Carcar, and it was one of eight created during the Augustinian Definitory of 1599, according to the book Balaanong Bahandi on the Sacred Treasures of the Archdiocese of Cebu.

It was later placed under the care of Boljoon when the latter was created as a parish separate from Carcar during the Augustinian Congress of October 31, 1690.

As a visita, Oslob was administered by priests of Boljoon. When it became a parish in 1848, Fr. Juan de Aragones was named as its first priest.

Stone and mortar church

Historian Felipe Redondo described the Oslob Church in Breve Reseña, a book published in 1886, as a structure of stone and mortar construction with tile roof. “There also used to be paintings on the ceiling of the church made by a certain Bernardino Candelario, a Tagalog who also painted the San Agustin Church in Manila,” added the Balaanong Bahandi.

Unfortunately, the Inmaculada Concepcion Parish Church has experienced one disaster after another through the years.