Maribojoc Church

Maribojoc Church
Church of Santa Cruz in Maribojoc, Bohol, 2003 (Photo by Betty Lalana and Lino Arboleda, Ortigas Foundation Library Collection)

Roman Catholic Parish Church of [Triunfo de la] Santa Cruz (Triumph of the True Cross), San Vicente Ferrer (secondary patron) / Location: Maribojoc, Bohol

Maribojoc Church, also known as Santa Cruz Parish Church or Holy Cross Parish Church, was a Roman Catholic Church in the municipality of Maribojoc, Bohol, Philippines, under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tagbilaran. The parish was first established by the Jesuits in 1767 or 1768 with Father Juan Soriano, SJ as its first parish priest. The Augustinian Recollects later administered the community until 1898.

The church was built in 1852 under Father Manuel Plaza and completed in 1872. In 2005, it was designated by the diocese as the Diocesan Shrine of San Vicente Ferrer. It was also declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines and a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol and other parts of Central Visayas in 2013, the entire building crumbled to the ground, leaving only the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus standing.

Maribojoc (other names: Malabohoc, Dungguan) was named after agoho (in Visayan maribojoc or malabohoc, an endemic evergreen tree, Casaurina equisetifolia, often mistaken for a pine) in one of its barangays, Punta Cruz. Oral tradition claims that first Jesuits, Juan de Torres and Gabriel Sanchez, sent to Bohol in response to the request for priests by the family of the encomendero of the island, set foot in this barangay in late November 1596.

The fort built by the Recollects in 1796 at Punta Cruz shows that Bohol’s coast was vulnerable to slave raiders, thus, Maribojoc’s town center was put on a plateau facing the sea. Placed inland, like a number of Bohol coastal towns, Maribojoc has a lower town (ubos) and an upper town (ibabao).

The cruciform church and the convento adjoined to its rear are located in ibabao. From the convento one sees a clear view of the lower town and the sea. Unlike most colonial towns, the church does not face a flat, open plaza but a ravine linked by a causeway. Jose observes: “Maribojoc must be the only one [church] in the country with a ravine in front of its entrance, instead of a plaza. There must be a defensive purpose for this kind of location. There is a plaza on either side of the church—one grassy, the other now a basketball court—but neither is bounded by municipal buildings, as is the case with other towns. According to oral tradition, the grassy field flanking the gospel side of the church was once a graveyard. Parts of the walls bordering this space are still standing” (Jose 2001b, 82). But could these walls have been part of an older fortification?

Further on Jose writes: “The bell tower has a separate entrance on the ground floor level. Could this have served the same purposes as similar entrances for the bell towers of Jagna and Dimiao, that is, to facilitate watchmen changing shifts during the pirate season?” (Jose 2001b, 84). Taking these details of the built structures and the natural location, one gets an impression that in fact Maribojoc was a well-fortified site. But who chose the site and when was its defensive position recognized?

By the 17th century, the Jesuits were already ministering in Maribojoc. Murillo Velarde, 1751-54, reports that the Austrian Jesuit, Jose Sanchez, 1616-92, had built part of the church and retablo of Maribojoc. Maribojoc for many decades was a visita (mission chapel) under Baclayon. But which church is Murillo Velarde referring to?

The foundation date of the parish is uncertain, although the years 1767 and 1768 are cited. Redondo’s 1886 report states that the oldest extant parish books were dated 2 January 1788, during the Recollect era. Maribojoc is an important parish because from it the parishes of Cortes, 1793, and Antequera, 1880, were established.

The Recollect era records two churches one built from 1798 to 1816 and the other later. The present church, however, was begun in 1852 and completed in 1872 under the incumbency as parish priest of Manuel Plaza, OAR, 1843-59, and Fernando Rubio, OAR, 1861-75 and 1877-84. This church built of cut coral is simple in design: a two-story structure crowned with a triangular pediment. The facade is divided into three vertical sections by paired engaged columns. Rosettes define the boundary between the first and second story. To the right of the facade, separated by a connecting corridor stands the bell tower.

On 15 October 1860, Maribojoc was raised to status of a municipality. In 1864, an elegant flight of steps from church to wharf was completed. The stairs are still there. The church was still being furnished and decorated in the early 20th century. The striking neo-Gothic altar of Maribojoc was initiated by Padre Quiteriano Sarigumba, whose initials PQS are found in the retablo. The retablo was completed in 1934.

On 15 October 2013, at 8:15 am, an earthquake of magnitude scale 7.2, equivalent to the power of 32 Hiroshima atomic bombs, hit Bohol. Traced to the activity of a recently discovered fault named the North Bohol Fault running east-northeast by west-southwest and running parallel to the shoreline from the town of Inabanga, north of Maribojoc to about 100 kilometers south, the quake caused the earth to rise some 500 m at the shore of Loon. Since Maribojoc stood on the fault line, the church was completely damaged. Reconstruction at the same site is being studied because the presence of the fault line does not recommend building on the same site.

The church of Maribojoc resembled a cross or cruciform with a low, four-sided pyramidical roof and octagonal cupola. Walls were consistently divided into thick and thin portions designed with finely cut coral stones on the sides.

The coral stones design of Maribojoc Church is a common feature among churches in Bohol.

Its façade was simply decorated by narrow pilasters and niches of saints. A bas relief of the church’s secondary patron, San Vicente Ferrer, was prominently located on the center of the facade. A string of finely cut coral stones, molded into flowers, could be seen on the lower cornice of the facade. Beside the façade was an extension of a bulky belfry.

The belltower of Maribojoc had seven bells and two windows with clock faces. One of the clocks, installed on October 15, 1893 during the term of Father Lucas Martínez, had an inscription of “José Altonaga”, indicating that it came from a well-known company in Manila during the late 19th century. On that same day, lightning rods costing ₱ 900 were installed It also had a separate entrance on the ground floor, possibly for easy access during changing shifts of watchmen. The largest of its seven bells was dedicated to San Vicente in the 1870s. When Father Pedro Quiterio was assigned to Maribojoc, he ordered the repair of the clock in the bell tower in December 1933.

The interior exhibited a contrast of bare nave walls against the paintings drawn on the metal ceilings leading to the main altar and retablo mayor. The ceiling paintings were known to be works of Raymundo Francia, as shown by his signature on one corner of the dome in the 1930s. An acknowledgment on the initiative of the San Tarcisio Martir Maribojoc Catholic Association ‘Comité de Obras’ could also be seen painted before the crossing. Several paintings by Francia on metal had deteriorated even before the total destruction of the church by earthquake in 2013. The Francia paintings were never touched up nor repainted. The new church dome (or cimborrio) was constructed in June 1889. Ray Francia was again commissioned to do mural works on the cimborrio by painting the Epistles of The Four Apostles, namely the saints John, Matthew, Luke and Mark.

Maribojoc had five intricately carved Neo-Gothic retablos in the sanctuary and transepts. Striking features of the retablo were the presence of arches, crockets, Mudéjar stars and the profusion of carving. The whole retablo was probably completed on January 7, 1934 as a project of the Comité de Obras during the term of Father Quiterio Sarigumba (P.Q.S.) as seen on the inscription in the upper reaches of the central retablo. An older retablo, built from 1616 to 1692, predated the church.

The image of Santa Cruz, the town’s patron, was located in a small shrine on top of another containing the wooden statue of San Vicente Ferrer, the town’s secondary patron, on the central niche of the retablo-mayor. Above the central niche was the image of the Holy Trinity. On both sides, above the two other niches on the main altar, were paintings of the allegories of the Finding and Veneration of the True Cross. The rest of the retablos in the transept contained images of saints.

Connected to the choir loft was a small area where a large organ with metal pipes could be seen. The organ, which still needed restoration at the time of the earthquake, was last played in 1975. Estimated to have been built by Spanish pipe organ makers between the 17th and 19th centuries, the Maribojoc organ was one of the remaining 14 Spanish era pipe organs, three of which were in Bohol. Also located in the choir loft was a lectern for choral books. On the ceiling, a mural of the sacrament of baptism depicted Father Quiterio Sarigumba as the officiating priest. Father Sarigumba, also known as the “builder priest”, was known for having repaired portions of Jagna Church and the addition of new facades to the churches of Inabanga and Panglao. A passage to the belfry was located in the choir loft.

The sacristy was located behind the sanctuary. Another passageway lead from the sanctuary to the church convent. Unlike other churches, the convent of Maribojoc, built under the second term of Father Fernando Rubio, was attached to the back of the church and parallel to the epistle transept, forming a continuous “I” pattern instead of the usual “L” pattern. The convent was a traditional bahay-na-bato, with its ground floor made of stone and the second floor made of contemporary materials. Parts of the convent were used as the St. Vincent Institute, a school and the church museum, which housed liturgical objects, old canonical books (Bautizos, Defuociones, Casamientos, Actas), relics of St. Vincent Ferrer and another relic of the Holy Cross brought by Father Soriano, SJ from Jerusalem. Another stone stairway at the back of the convent, finished in 1864, connected the downtown to the port and led to an octagonal tower.


SOURCE: Manila News-Intellegencer


Originally posted 2000-11-22 09:14:34.