MANILA, PHILIPPINES — After two years of limited movement due to COVID-19, pilgrims are now ready for in-person Visita Iglesia, a century-old Catholic Holy Week tradition.
These seven heritage churches in Cebu are now more accessible with technology via Quick-Response (QR) code markers which contain historical and tourism information as part of Smart Communications Inc. (Smart)’s Digital Tourism Program.
St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish (Carcar)
Among Carcar’s most renowned, the church’s present-day structure was built in 1860. However, the bell in its belfry is inscribed with the year 1810, suggesting that a previous church may have already existed earlier.
Nuestra Señora del Pilar Parish (Sibonga)
Sibonga’s first-ever church is popular for its grandiose seven-panel painting depicting The Creation.
St. Michael the Archangel Church (Argao)
Built in the 18th century, this church towers at 72 meters. The church’s oldest bell, embossed with San Agustin’s image, remains in the church’s massive five-bodied belfry to this day as the only bell of its kind.
San Guillermo de Aquitana Parish Church (Dalaguete)
Built in 1802, the church is a National Historical Landmark, according to the National Historical Institute (NHI). It is among the few churches that still have its original retablo—a pantheon of Augustinian saints in four niches flanked by a tribuna (raised balcony).
Nuestra Senora del Patrocinio de Maria Parish Church (Boljoon)
This church is believed to have been reconstructed out of its own charred remains a year after a devastating attack. Despite its grief-stricken history, it has been considered a historical treasure by the NHI and the National Museum.
St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish Church (Santander)
This church was built because of churchgoers’ pleas, at a time when residents had to walk 18 kilometers to attend mass in Oslob. Completed in 1898, the church was originally built facing the sea but eventually faced the highway starting in 1960 to accommodate churchgoers.
St. Michael the Archangel Church (Samboan)
Among Cebu’s oldest, this church was built in 1842. While records say the church was reconstructed in 1915, they don’t indicate the changes. The church is a nationally protected heritage structure by the National Historical Commission.
More than being Visita Iglesia companions, these QR code markers also help preserve these stories.
Showcasing Cebu’s historical and religious landmarks, Smart’s Panaw sa Pagtuo (Journey of Faith) Mobile App is also available for free for pilgrims opting for virtual Visita Iglesia.