San Isidro Labrador Church in Navalas : The Oldest Structure in Guimaras

I never stop being amazed at the antiquity of the churches in the Philippines. It feels like they shouldn’t be able to be so old, but in fact they are.

oldest church in guimaras
San Isidro Labrador Church in Guimaras

Take for example the San Isidro Labrador Church in Navalas, it dates all the way back to 1880. The name can get a little bulky to say again and again, so please forgive me if I do as the locals do and refer to it from this point forward as the Navalas Church. This massive church built from native coral and stone is in Buenavista and just a short trip away from Roca Encantado.

church belfry in Navalas guimaras
Navalas Church Belfry

A big stone fence goes around it. As I walked along it I had dreams of finding a small hole in the wall filled with gold coins. It’s a funny thing, everyone in the Philippines falls prey to these daydreams of finding gold hidden somewhere.

spanish marker
Spanish Marker

It’s a combination of Spanish Armadas having brought thousands of tons of stolen Inca and Aztec gold to the Philippines, the Japanese having invaded and caused everyone to hide their hordes, and the fact that once in a while, people really do find gold here.

Tourist Marker

Anyway, the fence was designed to keep the attacking Moros out. The bell tower has a bell of course LOL, but its no longer the original one. Locals say that the Moros stole it because it was made of gold and silver but their boat capsized in the sea and the bell now rests on the seafloor. See? More treasure stories.

oldest belfry
Oldest Belfry

It’s definitely an impressive church. To get there I went to Iloilo and caught a boat to McArthur’s Wharf in Buenavista. Then I hired a van and luckily, the driver was also into tour guiding so he toured me around Buenavista all the way to Jordan.

navales church
Navales Church from afar

Now I think I’m going back to Guimaras during the Mango harvest season not just for the Mango but to simply walk around and look for more hidden treasure, you never know, I might just find some.:)


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