Sacred Sites Siquijor

Our Lady of the Divine Providence Parish Church

A mission of Spanish priests and laymen arrived in Siquijor from neighboring islands in 1790 and set about christianizing the inhabitants.

They went from one community to another and came upon a place that surprised them for its abundance of molawin and other local hardwood trees.

It was occupied by a settlement of Boholanos that was hostile at first but gradually accepted them. They built a temporary chapel for the sacraments and it remained that way from 1868 to its founding as a parish.

When the community’s population had grown enough to merit the attention of the Diocese of Dumaguete, it was established as a parish on the feast day of the Virgin Mother of Divine Province in 1877.

They named the place Maria and dedicated the parish to the patronage of Our Lady of Divine Providence.

When Maria was still part of Cano-an (now Larena), Cano-an parish priest Fr. Timoteo Gonzalo already laid in 1859 the groundwork for the construction of a church.

Maria’s first parish priest was Fr. Ramon Cavas but it was Fr. Pedro Corro, who served beginning in 1894, that was responsible for the construction of the stone edifice that exists today.

Fr. Ramon Alegria was credited with completing the Our Lady of Divine Providence Parish Church. He also built a new convent.

Negros Oriental Sacred Sites

St. Augustine of Hippo Parish Church

Around a decade after it was established as a town separate from Dumaguete in 1837, Bacong became a parish dedicated to St. Augustine of Hippo.

Christianity, however, was introduced in Bacong centuries before by Spanish Augustinian friars back when it was known as Marabago and administered as part of Tanjay Parish.

Marabago was located in the interior highlands seven kilometers away from the current location of the town. Lured by the bounty of the sea, the people moved down to settle along the coastal plains.

When Bacong became a parish in 1849, Augustinian Recollects in charge of the community started the construction of the stone church that exists today and completed it in 1883.

Bacong etched its name in history as the birthplace of that legendary revolutionary Pantaleon Villegas, also widely known by the nom de guerre Leon Kilat. His monument can be found in the town plaza just beside the church.

Style rarities

The St. Augustine of Hippo Parish Church features a few differences from the usual building style of the period. Portions of the church and even the convento are made of bricks, a departure from the usual coral stone blocks used in similar structures throughout the country.

In places where coral stone was used, and it’s very noticeable in the church belfry, the builders used L-shape masonry. This technique and the bell tower’s caracol-type stairs are unique among Philippine churches.

Church historian Fr. Pedro Gallende, in his 2007 book on Philippine church facades, also took note of the finely cut stonework of the bell tower and its material that wasn’t of the “ordinary white coralline type.”

Study in contrasts

According to Galende, “The tower and the church facade are a study in contrasts: the tower with the charm of bare masonry work and the church with the smooth plaster finish.”

He also described as outstanding the use of the painted friezes in the main altar, considered the oldest in the region.

The church in Bacong, declared a national cultural treasure in 1972, also houses the oldest and one of the few remaining pipe organs in the Philippines. It was purchased from the organ-building family of Roques Hermanos Constructores in Zaragosa owned by brothers Juan and Manuel. Made in Spain, the instrument was shipped to Bacong and installed in 1894.

Sacred Sites Siquijor

San Isidro Labrador Parish Church

Lazi started out as a visita that was regularly visited by priests based in the parish of Siquijor.

Augustinian Recollects, who administered the island beginning in 1794, would come to Lazi and hold masses in a makeshift structure of nipa and bamboo that served as chapel.

When its population reached over 7,000 in 1857, Lazi was created as the San Isidro Labrador Parish and Fr. Victor Garcia assigned as its priest.

The first church was erected in 1858 but the current stone structure that still stands today was made possible through the efforts of parish priest Fr. Toribio Sanchez who began his term in 1882. It was thanks to him that Lazi has the best church and convent in the island.

Grand church

Records said the Lazi Church was completed in 1884, a record time of a few years after Fr. Sanchez became parish priest. He started work on the church as soon as he took over and was able to immediately build the nave, part of the transept on the side of the “Epistola”, and the bell tower.

Historian Fr. Pedro Galende described the Lazi Church as “grandly conceived” in a book published in 2007.

He only had praises for the church’s wooden floorwork with its herringbone pattern, calling it “magnificent” and “among the best in the country.”

Cultural treasure

“The barn-like facade is a study in simplicity. The only references to elaboration are fluted rectangular pilasters that stand out in low relief, plain cornices that run through the wall expanse, and the saint’s niche flanked by small circular columns above the arched main portal,” he wrote in his book “Philippine church facades” to describe the San Isidro Labrador Parish Church.

While most of the church walls were fashioned from cut coral blocks, the triangular pediment was created using wood. The three-tiered belfry has a rectangular base while the upper layers are octagonal, featuring arched windows on each side. A cross sits atop its domed roof.

In 1972, the church was declared a “national cultural treasure.”

Sacred Sites Siquijor

St. Francis of Assisi Parish Church

Siquijor was established on Feb. 1, 1783 and was the first and only parish in the island for more than 50 years.

Dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi for his love of nature, which the island has in abundance, the parish was administered by secular clerics until the Augustinian Recollects took over in 1794.

The choice of St. Francis as parish patron saint may have also inspired the appearance of the Siquijor stone church.

Simplicity of St. Francis

Started by cleric peninsular Fr. Setien in 1793 and continued by first Siquijor parish priest Fr. Alonso Delos Dolores, the St. Francis of Assisi Church may have been planned without adherence to a period historical style to reflect the simplicity inspired by its patron.

In his book published in 2007, church historian Fr. Pedro Galende describes its exterior as “plain and unpretentious” that “has one smooth wall built of coral blocks.”

Church of stone

When it was first put up, the church was just a simple nipa structure. Fr. Setien started the initial work to erect a stone edifice, a task that Fr. Dolores continued from 1795-1831.

The church was built using mostly limestone materials. Just a few meters away is the belfry that was added in 1891.

Historians believe the tower also served as lookout, from where the people of Siquijor first received warning of island intruders and other dangers.

In 2006, the Siquijor Church underwent repairs and renovation. The project was intended to preserve the grandeur of the church for generations to come.

Sacred Sites

Baguio Cathedral: place of worship, refuge

One of the more durable 20th century structures in the Philippine summer capital, the Baguio Cathedral survived the carpet bombings by Allied Forces in 1945 and the killer earthquake of 1990.

This church is the very first in the world dedicated to Our Lady of Atonement, according to the Archdiocese of Baguio, citing an entry in the February 1939 issue of a Catholic publication named “The Lamp.”

Baguio Cathedral
The Baguio Cathedral survived the carpet bombings by Allied Forces in 1945 and the killer earthquake of 1990. (Photo by Max Limpag)

With its pink color and Gothic-influenced twin spires and rose windows that many people copy in their houses, still this cathedral is a popular tourist attraction in Baguio City.

This church of Baguio is one of a few edifices of worship not built by the Spaniards. Rather, Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (CICM) missionaries who arrived in Baguio from Belgium in 1907 worked towards the Baguio Cathedral’s construction by appealing for donations from local and international donors.

Constructed in phases

About 25 Igorot carpenters under the supervision of Fr. Florimund Carlu, first rector (1913-1927) of the Baguio mission, helped complete the structure in 1924 sans its spiral towers. They were assisted by architect and engineer priest Rev. Fr. Leo Vendelmans as well Fr. Adolph Cansse.

Work on the church happened in phases, beginning in 1920 and ending in 1936 when it was finally consecrated.

People sought refuge in the Baguio Cathedral when the city was bombed by Americans in 1945 to drive out invading Japanese forces.

It was damaged during the July 16, 1990 earthquake that reduced Baguio to rubble and had to undergo repairs.

Location: Stands on a hill originally named “Kampo” by the native Ibalois but renamed Mount Mary by the CICM missionaries. It is easily accessible from Session Road, one of Baguio City’s main thoroughfares.

Nearby attractions: Within walking distance are Session Road, Abanao Market, and Burnham Park.


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