Visita Iglesia: Southwestern Cebu Churches
This visita iglesia series focuses on the different churches in various areas in the country that can be followed as a guide for the much observed Filipino Catholic Lenten tradition of the Visita Iglesia. This part focuses on non Augustinian built churches in the island province. Check out the other posts on Cebu Churches: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
The town of Samboan used to be part of the Tanjay (Negros) matrix but was separated as an independent parish in 1784 under the advocacy of San Miguel Arcangel. Located in the far off southwestern side of Cebu near its tip, the unassuming and plain looking facade of the church greets the weary traveler.
The first stone church, and the current one, was built only in 1842 under Fr. Romulado Avila, a Secular. It’s facade is quite plain and the only point of interest is the royal coat of arms of Spain indicating that this was built through the King’s support, one of eight other churches in Cebu.
While the renovated convento detracts the viewer, there is a watchtower a few meters from the church overlooking the sea and below it is a coral stone stairway named Jacob’s Ladder.
Ginatilan, originally part of Samboan, was declared a separate parish in 1847 with Fr. Juan Clemente, its first parish priest.
Construction of the cruciform church started in 1854 and finished in 1866. The belfry was added later, built in 1883 – 1890. Like it’s neighboring town of Samboan, the facade is bereft of any interesting ornamentation, with its builders preferring a rather austere front. The statue of it’s patron, San Gregorio Magno is located at the second level and just above the main portal.
It’s interesting structural component is, however, the beautiful beflry which is connected to the church with a camarin, its graduated tiers, tapering off and capped with a pointed roof. It’s mudejar type wilndows calls to mind the one in Pardo Church and gives one the impression that this was also used for defensive purposes.
Originally, the edifice was surrounded by walls as it was a fortified settlement but only the front part with its puerta marina and one rampart/watchtower remain to this day.
Nothing much has changed on the exterior part of the structure except for the incongruous portico and galvanized iron roofing.
Originally part of Samboan, Malabuyoc was declared a separate parish in 1832 with San Nicolas de Tolentino as its patron saint.
Like the church in Samboan, it is made of coral stones and its facade, topped with a triangular pediment is again simple and decorated with a few bas reliefs. It’s royal coat-of-arms, indication that it’s construction was supported by the King of Spain, and located just above the main portal has already deteriorated and rubbed off that it is so hard to discern the markings. The structure is cruciform. Side buttresses line it’s side.
Inside, there are no longer traces of the original retablo although the choirloft, supported by two pillars still exist. Two windows at its side, however, were opened up and made into side entrances.
The convento is located a few meters from the church but built in line with the facade. Unfortunately, the coral stone lower level was covered in cement and some renovations have been done. A lone watchtower is located a few meters from the facade.
Badian was separated as a parish from Barili in 1825 under the advocacy of Santiago de Apostol. Its church is unique compared to the others in the island province with its squat and unusual porticoed facade with four quadrilateral columns supporting a triangular pediment. Simple floral bas reliefs decorate these and four jar shaped finials are found at each corner.
The original belfry, now built at it’s side, used to sit atop the pediment but was taken down in 1990 upon the advice of NHI to ease pressure on the two free columns.
The church still has its original and beautiful wooden retablo.
The parish of Moalboal was declared in 1852 under the advocacy of San Juan Nepomuceno.
The church, made from coral stones, was started by Fr. Agustin Melgar and was finished 38 years later in 1890 by its second parish priest, Fr. Pedro Brigaudit.
The facade design follows the Badian template but executed more elegantly consisting of three tiers with its triangular pediment, a pair of round windows and three portas at the central part. Several bas reliefs as well as fluted columns makes the front interesting.
Of all the churches in Cebu, this is the only one that was abandoned due to building defects. In 1956, a major renovation was done. The church was expanded including a massive belfry at the top. The facade and rear of the structure was retained while the walls were taken down and replaced with cement. Due to the rusting of the reinforceing metal bars of the walls and columns, it expanded and created fissures that the building was abandoned. A modern structure was then built right beside it.
Dumanjug was separated as an independent parish from Barili in 1854 under the advocacy of St. Francis of Assisi. It is one of the few beautiful churches constructed by the Seculars who administered the western side of Cebu stretching from Samboan in the south to Bantayan in the north. It’s first parish priest was Fr. Matias Cabrera.
The church started out as a temporary structure made of wood and nipa. It was Fr. Doroteo Godinez who built the present stone church made from coral stones for 10 years and finished in 1864 with the help of the parishioners.
Dumanjug Church is one of eight structures in Cebu built with generous patronage of the King of Spain. This can be gleaned from the royal seal found at its facade. However, instead of the usual royal coat of arms as can be seen in the Cebu Cathedral, Samboan, Malabuyoc, Oslob, Argao, Boljoon and Dalaguete, it consists of the double headed eagle emblem of the Hapsburgs.
Its facade is quite richly ornamented with several floral motifs running down its columns.