Passing by Boljoon, South of Cebu Province would appear to be just like any other towns you would pass by on your way to more exciting places in the province. But if you give this sleepy-looking town even just a day to prove itself, you would later on discover that it’s as exciting as the next adventure.
Today, it remains to be undiscovered by many tourists so it offers only very few humble abodes and some places to eat. Boljoon may have gotten its name from nabulho meaning “collapsed” since it was said to have been formed by a sudden collapse of a mountain range.
Boljoon absolutely deserves a whole day tour. Among the must-sees is a picturesque church declared as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute. Boljoon is home to one of the oldest Augustinian churches in Cebu. It is a tile-roofed church with a convent attached to it. It was dedicated to Nuestra Seniora Patrocinio de Maria in and was a visita of the Parish of Carcar before becoming a parish itself.
The church is actually more than just a church but an attraction to sightseers, religious art connoisseurs, academics, and conservationists. The interior features gold-leaf and polychrome on the images, the fine tracery railings of the pulpit and choir loft that houses the now feeble 1880 organ, the ornate “Islamic” silverwork of the communion rail, the luxuriously painted ceiling. It contains three levels with some rococo decorations in the panels and pilasters and is covered by a roof that somehow gives the squat church an awkward shape.
Beside the Church is a churchyard or burial ground where anyone could still make out the skulls and cross bones amidst the crumbling wall. Detached from the church is a blockhouse or fort that served as a defense against the Moro pirates. The construction is clearly for defense since the windows were customize to fit cannons and the walls of coral block was a meter thick to protect the local militia.
It was actually a priest-soldier who became the parish priest of Boljoon in 1802. Fray Julian Bermejo, during his time as the parish priest, built three baiuartes or watch towers. The chain of baiuartes covered 96 kms all the way from Carcar to the north of Santander, the southernmost tip of Cebu.
The Boljoon watchtowers formed part of the defensive line masterminded by Fray Bermejo or Padre Kapitan. They are found on top of Ele Rock a landmark described by a Boljoonon as “like God’s toe jutting out to sea”, the second and largest near Lusapon River and the third at the tip of Cayangan Point facing seaward.
Aside from the church and line of watchtowers, there are other sights to see such as the Escuiea Catolica where small children were taught how to read and right and where candidates of First Communion are housed in the month of May to be prepared. It has a twin staircase in front, one for the male communicants and the other for the girls.
Another reason to be in spend a day in Boljoon is to see the bells made in Spain labeled with the names of the Friars that brought them. There’s also the Boljoon River and Kasanghel Hill for mountaineers and campers. Also proceed to the Pottery at Pondohan where you can get roof tiles, specially handmade by the locals. It’s found in the Upper Barangay Becerril in Boljoon.
Boljoon in a day would definitely be a day of appreciation for history and beauty, both rich and captivating for anyone who visits.