The Oldest Churches in the Philippines

The Philippines is considered to be the only catholic country is Asia primarily because of the influence by the Catholic faith brought about by the Spanish discovery and occupation of the country. The numerous basilicas and cathedrals scattered along the region reflects the strong catholic influence among Filipinos.

Here are some of the Old Catholic churches in the country you may want to visit:

San Agustin Church of Manila - located inside the historic walled city of IntramurosManila. The church was completed by 1607 and it is the oldest church still standing in the Philippines. The San Agustin Church was one of the four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period to be designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO , under the classification "Baroque Churches of the Philippines". It had been named a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1976.
St. James the Great Parish Church – it is a fortress-like stone church constructed by the Augustinians in 1609 in Bolinao, Pangasinan. It houses wooden statues nowadays a rarity. The church features a special antique side altar which contains sculptured faces which are Aztec-like in nature. Its monolithic wooden door was beautifully carved with floral designs.

San Pedro Apostol de Loboc – it is the second oldest church in Bohol. It was originally built in 1602, but soon reduced to ashes. In 1638, a stronger one was build. The church complex is composed of the church structure, a three storey convent, a bell tower and a mortuary chapel. The Jesuits and the Augustinians shared in the construction of the church.

Our Lady of Mt Carmel Parish - the Barasoain Church was built in 1630 in Malolos City, Bulacan. Having earned the title as the Cradle of Democracy in the East, the most important religious building in the Philippines, and the site of the First Philippine Republic, the Church is proverbial for its historical importance among Filipinos. Founded by Augustinian Missionaries in 1859, the church is also renowned for its architectural design and internal adornments.

San Agustin Church – completed in 1710 in Paoay Ilocos Norte, the church is famous for its distinct architecture highlighted by the enormous buttresses on the sides and back of the building. Paoay Church was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the best examples of the Baroque churches of the Philippines.
Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño – is a 16th century church in the heart of Cebu City. It is purportedly built on the exact spot where the image of the Santo Niño, a sculpture depicting Jesus as a black Holy Child, was found by Spanish conquistadors in 1565 preserved in a burned wooden box which was left behind during the 1521 Magellan expedition.

San Nicolas Catholic Church - built in 1701 by the Augustinian Missionaries, it is one of the oldest edifices in Ilocos Norte. Its original structure is one of the must see places of the town. The Church and the attached Sta. Rosa Academy Building, the well preserved Municipal Hall and the old Town Plaza sprawled between them constitute the heart of the town center. These buildings and structures are originally built and continue to be decorated with earthen bricks, which is among the products of the surviving local earthenware industry.

Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception – located in Baclayon, Bohol, it is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It is one of the best preserved Jesuit build churches in the region; although in the 19th century, the Augustinian Recollects added a modern facade and a number of stone buildings that now surround the church. The current building was completed in 1727. Next to the church is the old convent, which also houses a small museum with centuries-old religious relics, artifacts and other antiquities, dating back to the 16th century.
Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva – built in Miagao, Iloilo in 1786 by Spanish Augustinian missionaries. It was declared as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Baroque Churches of the Philippines" in 1993. Its fortress-like design suggests its dual purpose as a place of worship and as a fort used in defending the town against the moro raiders.

St. Michael the Archangel Church – is a 200 year old rococo-baroque church structure which is located in Argao, Cebu. The church was part of the quadrumvirate, alongside the churches of Boljoon, Dalaguete and Oslob. They were not just churches but fortresses as well and part of the defense system against the invaders. They are commonly termed as “fort-churches”. Experts say that the church is probably of the second construction because the façade indicates 1783 as its original construction, handled by Fr. Francisco Espina. However, the records of the church say it was founded in year 1733 under Fr. Ignacio de Olave, Argao’s first parish priest. The construction began around 1730’s and completed in 1788.
St. Peter of Alcanta Church – located in Pakil, Laguna, it was built in 1676 out of bamboo and nipa. When Pakil was separated from Paete, the construction of the stone church and convent started in 1732 and completed in 1767.  

San Jose Church – located in Ivana Basco, Batanes, this old church was founded way back in 1795 and was built completely in 1814. It has a bell tower that gives the appearance of a fortification and fronting the Ivana Seaport which offers a commanding view of the sea and surrounding countryside due to its elevation

San Guillermo Parish Church - the church was originally constructed by the Augustinian Friars in 1576 . In 1880, the church was destroyed by an earthquake only to be rebuilt by Fr. Eugenio Alvarez in 1886. The church boasts of having main retablo, side retablos and pulpit that are heavily gilded with gold leaves. The rich decorations of the church depict the Baroque style of architecture. Only half of the original facade of the church can be seen today due to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 which half-buried the church.

The Church of Our Lady of Light, Loon - it is the biggest church in Bohol. At the spot of the current church, a chapel was constructed during the term of Fray Manuel de Elizalde in 1753. Some fifty years later, the Augustinian Recollects replaced the current church in Ionic and Corinthian style. The building has two towers octagonal bell towers, and is fully symmetric.

Nuestra Senora dela Asuncion – located in the town of Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur.  During the 16th century, when Spanish Augustianians first settled in the area, Santa Maria was a mere visita, or mission outpost. By the mid-18th century, Santa Maria had become one of the most successful of the Augustinian missions in the Philippines, and construction of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción began in 1765. A stairway of 85 steps leads up a hill from the edge of town to the church, which is perched like a citadel and fortified by a retaining wall of stone. Flanked by two cylindrical columns, the church’s exposed brick façade—once covered in limestone—opens into a nave flooded by natural light. It was included in the World Heritage Site by UNESCO , under the classification "Baroque Churches of the Philippines".
St Paul's Metropolitan Cathedral – also known as Vigan Cathedral, is an imposing creamy-white building built in the "earthquake baroque" style with thick buttresses to support it through earthquakes and typhoons. A separate bell tower was built 15 meters away from the main building. The first church was built on this site in 1574 by Juan de Salcedo and was damaged in the earthquakes of 1619 and 1627. A second was built  in 1641; and the present baroque-style church was built in the 1800s.

The Church of Bantayan - located at Bantayan, Cebu. This church is offered to Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion and it was founded by the Augustinian priests on June 11, 1580. After it was built, St. Peter became the patron saint. On the year 1600, it was destroyed by fire and it was rebuilt on that same year. The current Church of Bantayan was constructed in 1839 and was completed in 1863. It is considered as one of the oldest church in the country with walls made of corral stones. Inside the church, you can see centuries old life size statue of saints. It also has a belfry with resonant bells that can be heard miles away.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Ena,

    Please be reminded that the next time you grab photos from the internet, you need to have the decency to place the source of the photo that you grabbed. Otherwise, that can be considered as theft.

    I am referring to the photo that you grabbed for the St. Michael the Archangel Church in Argao Cebu which you grabbed from my website without crediting the source of the picture.

    I hope that this will be the last time you will ILLEGALLY grab photos online.

    Thank you.

    Doi of