Like Bali has temples, Philippines is replete with Catholic churches. It was with the arrival of Spanish conquistadores during 1570s that brought the missionaries intent in the country claiming the Filipino pagans for Christ. As a result, Catholicism arrived and stayed. Today, almost 80% of Filipinos are Catholic and Catholic rituals are rooted deep in the Filipino culture. The country is one of the most Catholic nations in Asia. In this blog, we have listed some of the oldest and most popular churches in Philippines you must visit.
Santo Nino de Basilica in Cebu City, Cebu
The first on the list is the Santo Nino de Basilica as skipping the name of the oldest Roman Catholic Church of Philippines will be an absolute justice to the spirit of Catholicism in the country. The church was established by Augustinian priests in the year 1565. Though the church was destroyed twice by fire but was rebuilt in the year 1629 and 1737. The present church building is designated as “Mother and Head of all Churches in the Philippines” by the Holy See. Another story of disaster that the church survived is about the destruction of its bell tower (centuries-old) by an earthquake of 7.2-magnitude in 2013. The bell tower was restored after 3 years.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Malolos, Bulacan
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish or Barasoain Church is a significant part of the history of Philippines and if you are interested to know about the country’s past, this church is a must-visit destination for you. Located in Malolos, Bulacan, the church was also named ‘Cradle of Democracy in the East’ on being chosen as the place of First Philippine Congress post the Spanish-American War. The church has been so important to be remembered as a historical site in the country that it was immortalized through various Philippine monetary bills – the 10-peso bill in 1967, 1985, 1973, 1997; the one-peso note in 1951 and 200-peso denomination in the year 2010. Book your cheap flights to Philippines right now on I Eagle and grab the lowest airfares.
Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva in Miag-ao, Iloilo
Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church or Miagao Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site having an interesting history behind its construction. The church also served as a fortress in order to protect the area against pirates and Moro traders from the late seventeenth century to early nineteenth centuries. Its two belfry towers do not match in design as two different parish priests commissioned an asymmetrical structure of the towers. Another notable feature of the church is its façade which has a bas relief ornately decorated, featuring St. Christopher dressed in Bahag (local clothing) while he is holding a large coconut tree and the image of Child Jesus on his back.
Nuestra Senora de la Porteria Church in Daraga, Albay
During the 1720s, Cagsawa was seeing progress but the local inhabitants were still in the foot of Mayon Volcano which was a threat to their livelihood. To seek protection, the 1400 inhabitants asked for their own church and town to be transferred to Daraga, a village in the far south of Cagsawa. The church was built atop a hill looking over the magnificent Mayon and consecrated in the year 1854 by name ‘Nuestra Senora de la Porteria Church. Also known as Daraga Church, today it is famous as the structure with the perfect blend of the Mexican Baroque and Renaissance Gothic as described by Alicia M. L. Coseteng, a historian who mentioned the church in her book, ‘Spanish Churches in the Philippines’. Another interesting fact about this Catholic Church in Philippines is that it is the only surviving church in the nation to be adapting salomonica columns.
Mt. Carmel Chapel in Basco, Batanes
You won’t find many churches in Batanes but this one here is a must-visit for tourists in search of spiritual calmness in the country. Constructed by Abad family, Mt. Carmel Chapel was an alternative to the Basco Cathedral (located just 3 kilometers from the site) that was completed in the year 2008 with the help of hard-working carpenters, craftsmen and local masons. The design of the church was an inspiration from the traditional Ivatan stone houses which are believed to be every strong to survive against bad weather like storms and strong winds, quite frequent in Northern Luzon. The church was also seen in ‘You’re My Boss’, a film starring Coco Marlin and Toni Gonzaga.
When in the archipelago, do visit these amazing churches in Philippines to know more about the history and Catholic rots in the country.