Exploring – churches in Bohol and Cebu

1 Mar

While in the Philippines we had the opportunity to see some of the oldest Catholic churches in the islands, both on Bohol Island and Cebu City.  The presence of the Jesuits was seen in full force with monuments and plaques.  The churches themselves are impressive, but European style architecture and the heat and humidity that occurs in a place like the Philippines means that constant care and uptake are required.  The architects were clever with the usage of local building materials – Baclayon church is the oldest coral stone church in the region, dating back to 1727.  In Bohol especially though, the moss and mold and vines were creeping to places unknown.

The Baclayon Church was part of our whirlwind Bohol tour that I wrote about in two previous posts a few weeks ago: Exploring – Bohol Island, Philippines – a river cruise and chocolate mountains and Exploring – Bohol Island, Philippines wildlife.  The church was a different type of tourism and so I thought that I would combine it with the views from Cebu.

In Cebu we went to the place where they had placed a replica of the Cross of Magellan – a heavily symbolic site where Magellan supposedly made the first converts to christianity on his famous voyage around the world.  We then went into the huge Santo Nino complex which includes lovely cloisters, a convent, museum and the Santo Nino – a replica of the child Jesus.  One thing that I found interesting about the Sto. Nino is the large murals, painted in very bright colors that are on the ceiling and the walls surrounding the complex.  It reminded me of the stories that I heard in Spain where initially the vast majority of people who came to church were illiterate and so they used the pictures to explain the stories of the bible.  I’m sure that it was similar here as well.  Literally across the street from Santo Nino is the modern Cebu cathedral with its tasteful interior and a wonderful exhibit on the life of Mother Teresa which absorbed me for the better part of an hour.

With the Mother Teresa exhibit in a prominent place, in Cebu another key thing to note is the poverty.  After we visited the cathedral we walked around the downtown and while I didn’t feel unsafe, it was not an area that I would like to be in by myself or after dark.  It is very important that we have individuals who strive to make a difference in developing countries.  One of those is my father’s good friend who is heavily involved in an organization called The Lingap Children’s Foundation in Cebu.   It is an orphanage and surrounding programs that is based in Cebu where street children are cared for and provided opportunities.  I knew that the organization was based in the Philippines, but it wasn’t until I came back and was talking to my father did I realize that I was very close to their headquarters and didn’t go.  The programs that they have provided the area over the years have served a very important purpose.  I would strongly suggest checking out the link to the foundation that I provided above to read about the wonderful works and accomplishments they have made.

Any thoughts about religion and travel?  Visiting new places and seeing where people worship – from temples to churches to mosques can be another way of understanding your own spirituality.

With this post, this is my final post from my Philippines trip.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

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