Boljoon, Cebu: Coastal Journey To Heritage Town
No wonder the word “road trip” came up several times when I was researching prior to this journey since the highway to Southern Cebu is packed with breathtaking scenery of mountains, cliffs, and the sea. Making the route even more interesting were these fascinating historical attraction which dotted the coast line. Every town has something worth exploring – just like the heritage town of Boljoon.
Ili Rock seen from Plaza Bermejo
Majority of the south bound road on the eastern part of Cebu runs along a picturesque route squeezed in between towering mountains and the open sea. This scenic highway also passes by one of the earliest settlements established in Cebu island, heritage town of Boljoon, founded in 1599. Ili Rock, the iconic bend on a huge protruding rock formation, marks your entry to Poblacion.
The rectory and church Patrocinio De Maria Church complex
Patrocinio de Maria Church Complex
During ancient times, many churches in Cebu serve not only as a place of worship, but also a fortress where the people could seek refuge from marauding pirates, and at the same time defend the town from behind its heavily fortified walls – just like Patrocinio de Maria Church. The 18th century pseudo-baroque church complex was a built by Agustinian friars during the late 1700’s and completed in 1814 by Fr. Julian Bermejo who is the brainchild behind the defense system of Boljoon and much of southern Cebu. The church facade the bahay-na-bato-inspired rectory, they were all very impressive but wait until you get inside.
El Gran Baluarte
Father Bermejo’s defense network stretching throughout the south Cebu involves a series of watchtowers to warn and to prepare for immenent attacks. Four watch towers were built on Boljoon alone, and the most distinguished is located within the church complex, the El Gran Baluarte. The two-storey block tower is formerly armed with canons on the second level while the bottom section is used as weapons storage and prison cell. Boljoon’s El Gran Baluarte is also noted as the biggest watchtower built in Cebu.
The watchtower El Gran Baluarte facing the sea.
Children about to receive the First Communion are sent to Escuela Catolica for about a whole month wherein they are intimately educated about the sacrament within the four-corners of this structure built by Americans. The dormitory’s architecture utilized a symmetrical design and features two sets of concrete staircase – one for him, the other, for her – a rule which was strictly observed during that time.
Symmetrical architecture of Escuela Catolica of Boljoon.
Boljoon heritage town is just overflowing with remarkable stories left behind by our colonizers through these priceless and significant structures. These buildings have lasted centuries but still remain intact and will continue to tell history to future generations. The parish church, the El Gran Baluarte, the Escuela Catolica – these edifices conveniently sit only a stone throw away from each other. But there are more to explore, like the rest of the watchtowers of Boljoon, and there’s probably a hidden destination on the next town which leads me to another point.
I’d love the idea of a road trip to southern Cebu. Who wouldn’t? Having your means of transportation stretches the capability to explore every town and their most treasured attractions. Stop anywhere, whenever. Take detours to off-beaten paths. You will have the means to reach unreachable places. Destinations are limitless. Taking the bus, on the other hand, had its own advantage – well, it apparently saves you from the hassle of driving. It’s just that, Cebu has something worth visiting, worth seeing, worth experiencing, one town after another, which is only a few kilometers away. Having your own transport gives you mobility if you’re photographing with natural light. Point A to point B would also be a stone throw away. But it’s ok, I’ll save the road trip for some other time. Anyway, wanna see some whale sharks, yeah?
1. Directions to Boljoon: Take a Ceres bus bound for Oslob or Bato from South Bus Terminal. Fare is ranges from P120.00- P130.00
2. Tell the conductor/driver to drop you off at the church of Boljoon. From there, all these attractions are withing proximity.
3. You could also check out the vicinities of the church like the parish museum, rectory, cemetery, etc.
4. More destinations in Biyaheng Cebu
5. This is my 2nd post in the Southern Cebu Sojourn series.
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8. Enjoy and have a safe trip.