In a spot dominated by edifices of cut coral stones left over from Spanish colonial times, Escuela Catolica is set apart by its wood and concrete construction.

This two-level wooden building with an exterior double staircase set in concrete was influenced by the type of architecture popularized by the Americans during the US colonization of the Philippines in the early to mid-20th century.

When the Americans began constructing schools in the years leading to the declaration of Philippine Independence in 1946, the Spanish clergy also decided to put up their own, said Boljoon heritage and tourism officer Ronald Villanueva.

Escuela Catolica was built in the 1940s in Boljoon, according to the Cebu Heritage Foundation, which documented and mapped historical structures and sites in this town and four others in southern Cebu.

Religious teachings

An entry about this structure in the book Boljoon: Cebu Heritage Frontier said it served as a dorm for children about to take their first communion.

It was a place for religious teachings and had, at one time, served as a school, the book added.

Oral accounts claimed the Catholic ministry in Boljoon had, for a certain period, prevented Boljoanons from sending their children to American schools by threatening them with excommunication.

It was when the Augustinian priests relaxed this rule that the Escuela Catolica began to be mainly used to house children from the upland barangays taking instructions on their first communion, the accounts added.

Meeting place

Aside from the outside grand staircase, which is made of concrete, Escuela Catolica also used bricks and cement for the ground floor. It utilized wood for the second level.

The building is rectangular in design with a symmetrical facade. The double staircase, with concrete balustrades, leads up to the second floor landing and main entrance.

Bas reliefs decorate the roof pediment’s base, and still more richly carved designs can be found underneath it.

Today, Escuela Catolica serves as meeting place for the various religious groups of the parish.