After experiencing the Heritage Walk of Cebu City and the best massage in Amuma Spa Treatments, our third day in the island was probably the most interesting part of our Cebu tour. We left Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort early for our Visita Iglesia in the southern side of Cebu and I guess everyone is pretty much excited since we will be spending overnight in Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort.
For the unfamiliar, Visita Iglesia is one of the most popular tradition that Catholics observe during the Lenten season. It is the tradition of visiting 7 churches on Holy Thursday. I have already visited most of churches in Luzon and this is my first time to experience Visita Iglesia in the Visayas.
Passing through a scenic route, I never got board during the entire trip. Our tour guide made our trip more interesting by sharing additional historical information about the churches adding a little bit of personal insights and humor:)
Our first stop was in the town of San Fernando where the Church of San Isidro Labrador is located. The parish became independent in 1858, this religious structure was known as the only church in Cebu uniquely made of light materials. The church construction was initiated in 1870 but due to lack of funds, it was only finished in 1886. What I like in this church is its gothic design and its simplicity.
The town next to San Fernando is the city of Carcar where the Church of Santa Catalina de Alejandria can be found. Built in 1860, this was a relocated church after the original was burned by local moro pirates. One interesting part of the church is the larger than life size statue of the 12 apostles that is located at the church gate.
The Church of Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Zaragoza in Sibonga was constructed between 1846-1868 and completed in 1881. The church is popular for having gorgeous murals and patterns painted on the wooden ceilings. Outside the church, an old patio was surrounded by century old acacia trees making the park a great popular place to unwind.
Our next stop was in Argao to visit the church of St. Michael the Archangel – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church was built in 1783 during the time of Fr. Francisco Espina who was the parish priest from 1782 to 1798. The architecture of the church is baroque and it has beautiful carvings of angels and flowers on the church facade. The church originally has a beautiful retablo but due to tasteless repainting which was ordered by its former parish priest, the church became controversial among heritage conservation groups.
Made from marble stones, San Guillermo de Aquitana Church in Dalaguete was established in 1690. Facing the sea and a beautiful patio, it has a huge bell tower that also serves as a watch tower during the Spanish era. The church has a baroque altar burmished in gold leaf and crystal chandeliers shipped by the Spanish galleons of yore.
The second to the last church that we visited was the church Nuestra Senora Virgen del Patrocinio in Boljoon Cebu. This church is the oldest remaining original stone church in Cebu and was declared for conservation and restoration in 1998. Similar to the churches of Argao and Dalaguete, the Nuestra Senora Virgen del Patrocinio church has a pseudo baroque rococo design. Fronting the church was a newly constructed park that has a free wifi zone.
Oslob is probably my favorite town in Cebu when we talk about heritage structures. Apart from the beautiful Nuestra Senora dela Inmaculada Conception church, a couple of interesting structures can be found in Aragones street including the unfinished Spanish cuartel.
Right in front of the Boljoon belfry, another interesting heritage structure can be found. Popularly known as Escuela Catolica – This building was constructed in 1940 and was formerly used as a catholic school.
Constructed in 1830, the church of Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepcion was designed by Bishop Santos Gomez Marañon. Unfortunately, the church and the centuries-old rectory were razed by an 8-hour fire in 2008 and is currently undergoing reconstruction. A small chapel can also be found in front of the church right beside an arch that leads to Olslob coastline.
Apart from visiting the beautiful churches of Southern Cebu, we also tried some of the popular snacks and delicacies like the famous chicaron of CarCar City and the deliciuos Torta of Argao.
Being the birthplace of Catholicism in the Philippines and Asia, Cebu is definitely one of the best places to do Visita Iglesia since theres a lot of heritage churches and some of them were built as far back as the 1600s.
After visiting the 7 beautiful churches in Southern Cebu, we all headed to Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort for an overnight stay.
If you want to experience Visita Iglesia in Cebu, You may contact Ka Bino Guerrero – one of the best tour guides in Cebu. You can reach him at (63919-380-5853)