Posted by admin on July 27, 2006
Church complex of Patrocinio de Maria, Boljo-on (Cebu)
The Augustinian Friars built the church of Patrocinio de Maria in the 18th century. The church and convent still uses clay roof tiles for its roof. The complex was a fortress church. With in the complex are; block house at the front left side of the complex served as a watch tower, a school at the left rear side built in the 1940’s, series of wall ruins, and an 18th century cemetery. Numerous church artifacts are intact. The ceiling painting was done by local painters in the 1920’s. The church walls are made of coral stone. The façade is ornamented with ecclesiastic symbols. A pipe organ was installed in the 19th century at the choir loft. (Text from UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List)
Nuestra Señora de Patrocino Parish
Boljoon located on a narrow and scenic plateau beside the beach was the center of Fr. Julian Bermejo’s defense network. A mountain range bound Boljoon to the north. Boljoon became visita of Carcar founded according to some authors in 1599. It became an independent vicariate on 31 October 1690, and on 5 April 1692 had a prior appointed, Fr. Nicolas de la Cuadra. In 1732, an Augustinian council proposed to abandon Boljoon for lack of personnel, and on 27 September 1737 the priory was handed over to the Jesuits. But in 1747, administration reverted to the Augustinians.
Boljoon’s population hardly increased because it was open to slave raids. So when Fr. Julian was assigned to Boljoon from 1802-08, 29-30; 39-42, and 46-48, he took pains to defend the town, building in the process some three dozen watchtowers from Tañon to Manhage, which was later extended to Carcar, a total of 96 kilometers. Boljoon’s earlier building had been destroyed in a raid in 1782, and its pastors Fr. Ambrosio Otero started rebuilding the following year. The work was continued by Fr. Manuel Cordero in 1794 but when Fr. Julian arrived, the work was not yet completed. He decided to build a blockhouse 120 x 80 meters on which artillery was mounted, and he enclosed the church perimeter with a wall. He finally completed the church. The church and the adjoining convento were restored by Fr. Leandro Moran (1920-48) the last Augustinian friar to be assigned to Boljoon. Another structure was built beside the church, probably a school or convento, around 1915.
The fortified church complex of Boljoon was the center of Fr. Julian’s defense network. On a hill north of the church he built a watchtower on which red, white and black flags were raised and lowered as a kind of semaphore; and through this ingenious system called telegrafo, a signal of impending attacks was relayed from watchtower to watchtower along Cebu’s southern coast.
Heritage Features: The blockhouse that Fr. Julian built calls attention for being a unique feature of the church complex. It is a solidly built two story structure with a tile covered parapet. The artillery on the blockhouse are no longer there, replaced by church bells. The church itself is a simple barn-like structure with a high pitched triangular pediment. It ornamentation are shallow pilasters decorated with floral motifs, low bas relieves on the first story, arch windows and a niche on the upper floor. A covered walkway connects the church with the bell tower which is a simple three story quadrilateral structure, bereft of ornament and the customary delineation of floors. To the right of the bell tower is an enclosed cemetery, its gate and walls decorated with skulls and cross bones. The convento to the right of the church is a typical bahay na bato whose lower floor has very small arched windows. The church interior is a single nave with no fenestration on the side facing the convento except for a clerestory that runs around the perimeter. The clerestory uses rectangular and octagonal windows. The wall facing the cemetery has rectangular windows on the lower floor. All told the church complex was finished with defense in mind.
The watchtower on top of the hill can be clearly seen from the plaza in front of the church. It now serves as a base for a huge cross.