• Boljoon Church Complex

  • Boljoon Convent Roof

  • Boljoon Cemetery Gate

  • Boljoon Blockhouse

  • Boljoon Blockhouse Roof

  • Boljoon Belfry

  • Boljoon Belfry Roof

  • Boljoon Tejas

  • Boljoon Church Complex

In our #MuseumFromHome and #BuiltTraditionThursday series, we are featuring a colonial church architecture introduced by the Augustinians during the Spanish colonial period in the island province of Cebu. The Patrocinio de Maria Church also known as Boljoon Church in Boljoon, Cebu is considered an architectural built heritage, one of the oldest Augustinian churches in Cebu next to the Church of Santo Niño in Cebu City.

Historical accounts by Fr. Manuel Buzeta and Fr. Felipe Bravo (1851) state that the town of Boljoon (formerly called Bolhon) situtated on the southeast coast of the island province of Cebu was founded in 1745. The church of Boljoon, dedicated to Our Lady of Patrocinio, was built in 1783 by Fr. Ambrosio Otero, OSA (NHI, 1999). “The church construction was continued by Fr. Manuel Cordero, OSA in 1794, completed by Fr. Julian Bermejo in the nineteenth century, and restored by the last Augustinian parish priest of the town, Fr.Leandro Moran, OSA, during his term from 1920 to 1948 (NHI, 1999).”

The Patrocinio de Maria Church is a church-convent complex on a parcel of land bounded by A. Sevallo Street on the north, Washington Street on the west, Gomez Street on the south, and Natalio Bacalso Avenue on the east. The church-convent complex is oriented with its nave in east-west axis. The complex includes remains of fortified walls, a cemetery, and a blockhouse. The north churchyard that used to be the cemetery has an arched gate built of cut coral stones capped with finials and carved relief of human skeleton. The 18th century watchtower converted as the church belfry is on the north of the façade or the epistle side of the church. South of the church is the adjoining two-storey convent with a roof that still retains the original tejas or clay tiles.

The architectural exterior of the church features a distinct pedimented east façade divided horizontally by mouldings, and vertically by pilasters into segments with the pediment’s top most triangular section adorned with stone carved Augustinian symbol. The first level has a central bay with an arched door or main portal. The second level features a central bay with a trefoil-arched niche that displays the statue of the Patrocinio de Maria. The stone masonry facework are carved with decorative motifs to articulate the designs on the pilasters and bas relief. Massive buttresses support the church exterior masonry walls.

Boljoon Church with its distinct Filipino Baroque style is “reflective of the 2 aesthetic sense and values of its friar builders and the artistry and ingenuity of Filipinos of yesteryears (NHI,1999).” In 2001, the Patrocinio de Maria Church in Boljoon was one of the 26 Spanish colonial churches declared as National Cultural Treasures by the National Museum of the Philippines for their outstanding historical, cultural and architectural value.

Boljoon Church is in good state of conservation and maintenance. The church complex underwent major site and building interventions, but has retained most of its distinct tejas or clay tile roofing. Steeply sloped roofs characterized the buildings of the church complex. The church’s roof slopes down from 39 to 28 degrees. Steep and sweeping slopes are appropriate for clay tiles as it drain rainwater fast. Repairs introduced through the years have retained much of the buildings’ original clay tile roofing except in the main church structure. The present church structure’s roof was replaced in 2007 with new pre-painted long span galvanized iron sheathings. The clay roof tiles removed from the main roof in 2007 are of two types and sizes. The shape of the typical roof tile is half-cylindrical and tapered, commonly known as the Spanish rounded and tapered-barrel tile. The tiles’ tapered shape aids in the way the tiles interlocked to each other when laid with their overlapping-concave-convex-sides. The tiles’ bonding lime mortar reinforced the manner of keeping the clay roof tile layers wind-and- water-tight. The interlocking clay tiles rest on the framework of hardwood rafters/sleepers, purlins and trusses. The clay tile has a distinct red color (10R 5/6, and 10R 6/8 in the Munsell Soil Color Chart). The color red is visible and dominant in the tiled-roof buildings of the church complex. The traditional way of clay tile roofing has been proven by time to be the most effective and pleasant architectural response introduced by the church builders of yesteryears.

The Patrocinio de Maria Church in Boljoon, one of the few remaining Spanish colonial structures with clay tile roof, exemplifies Philippine built traditions of our National Cultural Treasures that is worthy of emulation in the preservation of our architectural heritage.

Text and photos by Ar. Arnulfo F. Dado of the NMP Architectural Arts And Built Heritage Division

©The National Museum of the Philippines (2021)