Marinduque: Visita Iglesia at the Heart-shaped Island Province

Marinduque is one of the provinces off coast the island of Luzon. Considered as the geographical center of the Philippine archipelago by the Luzon Datum of 1911, the mother of all Philippine geodetic surveys. The province is a “heart-shaped” island , situated between Tayabas Bay in the north and Sibuyan Sea to the south. Hence, they adapted the moniker “The HEART of the Philippines ♡”. Despite its small size, it has a collection of brick-layered heritage churches scattered around its towns. Most churches are built on a hill or promontory to serve a lookout for marauding Moro pirates back then and warn the townsfolk to get in safety. These bastions of faith are located primarily within town centers, each has its own history and unique architecture to show.

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Coat of Arms of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boac
Dioecesis Boacensis (Latin)
Diyosesis ng Boac (Tagalog)

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Boac constitutes the entire province of Marinduque in the Philippines. The diocese was erected on April 2, 1977, carved from territory of the Diocese of Lucena. Both dioceses of Boac and Lucena are suffragans of Archdiocese of Lipa.

The mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boac is the Cathedral-Parish of the Immaculate Conception and Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Biglang Awa, also known as Boac Cathedral located at the town center of Municipality of Boac. The church stands on the hilly Barangay Mataas na Bayan, also the town’s poblacion (center), overlooking the Boac River and surrounding seas. Built in 1792, the Immaculate Conception Parish church, commonly referred to as the Boac Cathedral, played “silent witness” to Marinduque’s history.

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The Boac Cathedral is Marinduque’s central cathedral. In Barangay Mataas na Bayan, it is a historical church where the Katipunan Flag is said to have been baptized.

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Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is the patron saint of Boac, while Birhen ng Biglang-Awa is the patroness of the province.

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People held on to the belief that the church, with its walls and fortresses built and fortified with adobe, protected the island from pirate attacks in the 18th century.

St. Joseph the Worker Parish Church is located at second-highest point in Gasan. You need to walk or hike towards the church. The church has a viewing platform with wonderful views of the town center below, as well as the Tres Reyes Islands off coast.

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This grand new church—believed to be the biggest in Marinduque—has replaced the old church (which was converted into an auditorium), with a large altarpiece at the end.
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The interior of the church are decorated with anahaw-inspired ceiing motifs and wall decorations made of coconut shells.

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The main retablo covered during Lenten season.

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The century-old church bells displayed at the back garden of the church

A jeepney away from the Boac led me to the highway and alight at Mogpog town to visit St. Isidore the Laborer Parish Church. You can reach it few walks away from the municipal hall.

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Main altar

Holy Cross Parish Church in Santa Cruz, Marinduque is one of the two oldest churches in the province. Like Boac Cathedral, it is surrounded by high protected walls. The church’s main attractions are its well preserved retablo altar, the pulpit, and the original ceilings. For me, this is the best preserved church in the province. You’ll be amazed to see 18th century retablos and related elements.

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According to the inscription on its main door, the church was constructed in 1760. This makes it the oldest standing structure in the province, even older than the Boac Church, which was constructed in 1792 by the Jesuit priests.
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The Holy Cross Parish was not only built for worship; it was also designed to provide natives a refuge in times of calamities and attacks by Moro pirates. It did serve its purpose very well. When piracy was at its height, a deep moat was constructed parallel to the walls to make it doubly difficult to penetrate the church defenses. The tile roofing destroyed by a quake was eventually replaced with galvanized iron from Europe and it has effectively preserved the whole structure for posterity.
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Main retablo altar
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Ceiling paintings
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Left-side retablo
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Right-side retablo
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Beautiful retablos and ceiling
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Church convent
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Second floor of the convent

From Santa Cruz, I rode a jeepney near public market directly to adjacent town of Torrijos. Across the municipal hall stand St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish Church.

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I chartered a tricycle at narby terminal to bring me to the town center of Buenavista. It was a long ride on bumby roads but you are rewarded with views of Mount Malindig and countryside ay you go up in the mountains then descending to the next town. I asked to be dropped at Holy Child Jesus Parish Church. I thanked God for keeping me safe, doing pilgrimage on principal churches of Marinduque.

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Marinduque Loop (clockwise): Boac-Gasan-Mogpog-Santa Cruz-Torrijos-Buenavista

Finishing the visita iglesia loop at Buenavista, I took some lunch before heading to jeepney terminal with ride towards Balanacan port, where I waited for our vessel leaving Marinduque at night.

It was such a fulfillment to visit and pray at these historic churches of Marinduque, like finding treasure in town centers. It won’t be possible without the help of my family and friends who gave me tips hoe to get to this island province. Maraming salamat po sa inyo!

Have a blessed visita iglesia everyone!

For my town-hopping at Marinduque:

Marinduque: Weekend at The HEART of the PhilippinesIMG_20200202_122046-01

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