Visiting San Agustin Church: The Home to One of The Oldest Altar, Century-Old Organ, and The Tallest Belfry in Negros Oriental
After our quick visit to the Pulangbato Twin Falls Mountain Resort in Valencia, we continued our tour by visiting a famous church in the town of Bacong.
Bacong is a small coastal town neighboring Dumaguete City and is the smallest municipality in Negros Oriental. The people of Bacong are known for their bravery. Bacong is also the birthplace of the late Lieutenant-General Pantaleón “Leon Kilat” Villegas, the only Katipunero of the town and a Filipino revolutionary leader during the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish Empire. The residents and town officials pay homage to the bravery of Leon Kilat through a week-long celebration that ends on his birthday, July 27. His monument is in the town plaza.
Bacong is also home to the San Agustin Church, also known as Bacong Church. The church may not be as grand as the ones in various parts of Visayas and Luzon but it definitely has its own colorful history.
The main altar of the San Agustin Church is embellished with gold leaves and painted friezes. It is considered the oldest altar in the region. The church has the tallest belfry in all of Negros Oriental. It served as a lookout during the marauding days of Moro pirates.
The church also houses one of the few remaining pipe organs in the Philippines. The pipe organ was purchased from the Roques Hermanos Constructores in Zaragosa, Spain, and installed in 1894. Those visiting the San Agustin Church for the first time will be enamored by the sound of the pipe organ playing in an enclosed church complemented by the chirping of the birds outside.
The San Agustin Church was declared a national cultural treasure in 1972.
After visiting the San Agustin Church, our tour guide took us to a stone craft factory in Bacong called the Negros Oriental Arts & Heritage Shop, commonly referred to as NOAH.
NOAH’s main products are decorative and multi-use items made from rock materials found in the province. The rocks are cut, carved, and glued with mosaic-like patterns to their respective frames before being glazed and polished. After witnessing the painstaking efforts and fine craftsmanship of each handmade product, I can say that their selling prices are worth each peso spent by their customers.
The items are not exactly cheap, but I guess the pricing considers the amount of work that goes into each hand-crafted piece. Once these products reach the shops in Manila and abroad, they would cost much more.
We also visited the Negros Oriental Provincial Capitol to have a group photo. We ended our tour by visiting Dumaguete’s famous Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries to have coffee and to buy pasalubong. Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries is open daily from 8:30AM to 8PM.
Dumaguete is a small city filled with Negros Oriental’s cultural attractions with its many landmarks and museums. People can visit the Negros year-round but are encouraged to be mindful of the rainy season that starts from June to September. Festivals that take place in the neighboring cities of Dumaguete are a must-see for first-time visitors.
The Sandurot Festival is a celebration of Dumaguete’s multi-cultural roots that takes place in November, and the Buglasan Festival is often named the “Festival of Festivals” that represent the unique features of each of the provinces in Negros Oriental.
How to get to Bacong Church
Travelers from Manila can book a flight to Dumaguete via the AirAsia website and mobile application. AirAsia flies to Dumaguete at the following schedules:
- MNL-DGT – 4x weekly, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday (Z2 641) with a travel time of 1.5 hours. Flights depart at 7am and arrive at the Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport at 8:25am
- DGT-MNL – 4x weekly, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday (Z2 642) with a travel time of 1.5 hours. Flights depart at 9:05am and arrive at the NAIA T4 at 10:25am.
Bacong is the municipality next to Dumaguete City. It is just 8.5 km south of the Dumaguete City proper.
From Dumaguete City, the terminal for Bacong is located in front of AHL Richie & AHL Rose along the Santa Rosa Street crossing. It will cost about Php 10.00 and will take 15 minutes to arrive at the Bacong Plaza.
If you prefer to go to Bacong via local jeepney. The jeepney terminal for jeepney is located just in front of Robinsons Place Dumaguete along the crossing of Valencia Road (Jose Romero Road).
Another option is to take Ceres Bus at the Dumaguete Bus terminal. Bus fare is about P50 for air-conditioned buses and P15 for regular non-air-conditioned buses.
*Rates may change without prior notice.