The Philippines has a good number of Spanish colonial era churches especially in the Visayas. However, there have been a number of these structures that have been lost over time due to several factors like earthquakes, war, typhoons, natural deterioration and human intervention.
This compilation, although not as exhaustive is an attempt to show what churches have been lost over time and only depended on the availability of reference materials that came my way. Some, like for example, Palo in Leyte, was borne out of knowledge or hunch that, considering that this church has a very old retablo mayor, there must have been an older church of stone built before.
1 Bogo Church used to be situated in the town plaza which was made of stone with clay tile roof. In 1927, a new church was built in the present site on a lot donated by the Jagdon, Lepasana and Rodriguez families but was damaged during the war. The present church was built after the war. There are no remnants of the old church at the town center.
2 Borbon Church used to stand at the edge of a cliff with a perimeter wall overlooking the sea. I don’t know what happened to this structure but probably a casualty of World War II as the present church was constructed after the war. This present edifice is located several meters inland from the original site. Only remnants of the original perimeter fence stand today.
3 Opon Church is one of the most beautiful churches in Cebu. It was probably built either 1735 or 1744 and was slightly damaged during the last world war. However, the Dutch priests of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart demolished the old structure to build a new one.
Pedro Galende, OSA in his book, Angels in Stone wrote:
Unfortunately, the Dutch priests assigned to the parish, bypassing 200 years of history, had the church bulldozed and in its stead built a totally new one made of concrete.
The walls of the old church were so solid that, during the architectural massacre, the Dutch priest who ordered the notorious job was said to have regretted having started the operation.
4 Parian Church was considered to be the most affluent and extravagant in the three parishes then established in Cebu City: the Parian for the Sangleys and Indios, the Cathedral for the Spaniards and San Nicolas for the naturales. However, it was downgraded into a visita and eventually demolished.
One source mentions that the Augustinians in neighboring Sto. Nino instigated the downgrade. In the info panels of Museo Parian sa Sugbo, it mentions that the then Bishop of Cebu, Father Santos Gomez Maranon petitioned to have the Parian parish suppressed and incorporated into the Cathedral.
Some reasons put forward: a) threat of the dominating Chinese mestizo community of Parian, b) jurisdictional powers over its land and inhabitants of the Parian and the Augustinians. The church was finally demolished in 1870. The kumbento was turned into a library and firestation in the American period. Only a small nondescript chapel remains of the church today.
5 Recollect Church would have been another beautiful church with its neoclassic facade similar to Malabon Church. While it survived World War II, the Recollect Augustinians decided to demolish the dilapidated old church in 1964 to build a new one.
6 San Nicolas Church follows the triangular pediment design predominant in Dalaguete and Argao with the exception of having the belfry directly beside the church. Built from 1787 to 1804, it was severely damaged during the liberation of Cebu when US forces bombed out the province.
7 San Sebastian Church is one of the parishes south of Cebu and probably between Oslob and Santander. There are no traces of the stone church although one source say that it used to be built in present day Bato in Samboan. Bato referring to this stone edifice.
8 Oton Church is the only one of its kind in the entire country. Built in the form of a Greek cross with all arms equal, the main altar is located at the center. It blended byzantine, gothic and classical elements. While it survived World War II, it was heavily damaged during the Lady Caycay earthquake of 1948. Only a few blocks of coral stone foundations remain of the old church now made into a marian grotto overgrown by a tree.
9 Leganes Church was built from 1874 to 1889 with the nave made of tabigue wood while the facade of red bricks. It was totally destroyed during the Lady Caycay earthquake in 1948.
10 Pototan Church was built between 1837 and 1857 by Fray Ramon Ramos and it was restored in 1884 with its interior painted artistically. Filipino guerillas burned the church in 1942 and totally destroyd during the Lady Caycay earthquake of 1948. It was never rebuilt.
11 Igbaras Church was said to be one of the largest in Iloilo and was said to be completed in 1878. Although there are various accounts regarding the destruction of the church, one, the Lady Caycay earthquake of 1948 is consistent.
12 Bugason Church was built by Fray Manuel Asensio who was parish priest in 1867 although there are no specific years when this church of masonry and iron was built. Both church and convent were destroyed in 1942 and were never rebuilt by the Mill Hill Fathers.
13 Barbaza Church is located in the province of Antique. Although the history of the town includes several transfers due to slave raiding and flooding, it was only in the later half of the 19th century when it finally settled at its present location. There is not much information about the church except that the old edifice was demolished and a modern structure built in its place.
14 Loon Church was the biggest Spanish colonial era church in the province and was considered as the crowning glory of Recollect architecture in Bohol. Prior to its destruction by the earthquake of 15 October 2013, restoration and rehabilitation works were initiated by the National Museum and National Commission for culture and the Arts.
15 Maribojoc Church is one of two churches in Bohol that was totally destroyed during the 15 October 2013 earthquake. Maribojoc is just adjacent to Loon. The old church was constructed from 1852 to 1872.
16 Palo Church was built in the 19th century and was greatly damaged during a typhoon in 1897 with the pediment and roof of the church gone. It was repaired eventually and in 1938 was declared a cathedral. During World War II, it was used as a military hospital. I was told by a friend, Dennis, that when Palo became a diocese, the clergy decided to demolish the old structure and replaced it with a modern one.
Archival images from the following:
Album Commemorativo de las Bodas de Plata Sacerdotales del Excmo. Sr. Dr. Gabriel M. Reyes Arzobispo de Cebu, 1940
National Archives and Records Administration of the USA for Palo Church
San Agustin Museum archival images for Pototan and Oton Churches