Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bantayan: The Spanish-Era Town Plaza

After visiting Kota Park, in Bantayan Island, Cebu, we headed straight to the heartland of this small little island: the town plaza. This town plaza is very much what you'd expect of a Spanish-era town plaza. Around it, you'll find big colonial houses, the market and, of course, the iglesia.

Bantayan Island, Cebu

The iglesia, now called the St. Paul and Peter Parish, was founded by Augustinian priests in 1580. Construction of the actual structure, however, started more than two centuries later in 1839, finished in 1863. It is said to be one of the oldest churches in the country. A magazine show even claimed it to be the oldest in the Visayas.

Bantayan Island, Cebu

The design and details of this church was to me quite breathtaking. The fa├žade is made of corral stones and decorated by intricate sculptures and reliefs. Beside it is the campanilla, the belfry, which, people claim, houses resounding bells that can be heard for miles.

Bantayan Island, Cebu

I explored the church a little more and stopped myself from taking photos inside, as a mass was currently being held. I walked to the side doors and found myself on a tree-lined area, where, I suppose, Sunday-mass vendors would set-up and sell candles and other religious paraphernalia.

Bantayan Island, Cebu

As I explored the town plaza a little more, I stumbled upon Bantayan's old Spanish-style colonial houses, typical of Spanish-era town plazas. We reckoned one decrepit about-to-become-in-ruins old structure was the former government building. Its walls looked very brittle and it already had holes on its roof. The sidewalk on which it stands, in fact, has been fenced off from pedestrians.

Bantayan Island, Cebu

Fortunately, there are some of these old houses that have gone through restoration. We found one whose first floor was converted into commercial spaces. There was a salon, a jewelry store, an electronics store (which we didn't think existed in the island) and various other dry goods.

Bantayan Island, Cebu

Bantayan Island, Cebu


For other Bantayan-island entries, please see:
Bantayan: Blooms in May
Bantayan: The Historical Kota Park
Bantayan: Brilliant Blue Beach
Cebu: From the City to the Island


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