Friday, March 17, 2017

BONDOC PENINSULA: The Other Side of Quezon Province

The Welcome arch to the Bondoc Peninsula.

Had a four-day long weekend  for the All Souls Day celebration and it became an opportuned time  for another  road trip. Had wanted to explore the towns of Bataan, however the province just got hit recently by a storm and there was flooding in some towns. So I thought of going down south. Looking at the map, I noticed that there was this part of Quezon province which I haven’t explored before: the Bondoc Peninsula. So I started reading articles and blogs featuring this peninsula and found out there were some good beaches and a few old churches in the area.

The Bondoc Peninsula which is on the southeastern part of the province of Quezon is bordered by water on its three sides. To the east is Ragay Gulf, to its south is Sibuyan Sea and to its west is Tayabas Bay. It consists of twelve towns and composes the third congressional district of the Quezon province. Starting from the northwest part of the Peninsula then rounding to the south towards the east  the towns are: Padre Burgos , Agdangan, Unisan, Pitogo, Macalelon, General Luna, Catanauan, Mulanay, San Francisco, San Andres, San Narciso And Buenavista.

Ecclesiastically, the Peninsula belongs to two dioceses: The first three towns of Padre Burgos, Agdangan and Unisan belong to the diocese of Lucena while the rest belong to the Diocese of Gumaca.

             In order to beat the weekend traffic of people going to the provinces for the All Souls Day, we left early from Intramuros. There were five of us in this trip. We stopped by three towns of Quezon to visit their churches before reaching the Bondoc Peninsula: Candelaria where we had our breakfast, Sariaya and Pagbilao. (Note: Will feature these churches in a different post).

It was already eleven o'clock in the morning when we  entered the Bondoc Peninsula with Padre Burgos as the first town. Since we were not able to make final confirmation of our lodging we visited three places two of which I read in the internet: Villa Anita Resort, Tamarind Tree Resort and Borawan View. The Villa Anita was at a sprawling site but far from the beach. The dorm which had six double deck beds with aircon was for two thousand a night. Tamarind Tree resort which was near the town proper had nipa huts which were already rundown. The bigger non aircon room for the five of us was for three thousand which was the same rate being given at the Borawan View which was by the seashore itself. So we decided to lodge at the Borawan View. We had lunch first at one carinderia in town before checking in.  Borawan contact nos. 0920 700 0654 / 0926 692 8274/ 


We went to the next town of Agdangan in the afternoon where we climbed the Luminous Cross of Grace Sanctuary, an twelve storey tower shaped like a chalice with floor to ceiling murals of biblical events and the Station of the Cross  with life-size statues made of fiber glass. One could see the whole town from on top of the tower. We were told that it was built in 2004 by Fr. Raul Enriquez. The sanctuary was just beside the church. 

The St. Isidore Parish Church of Agdangan. 

The Luminous Cross of Grace Sanctuary just beside the parish church is easily the tallest building in town and can be seen from afar. 

Sinaludsud, a kind of pancake made out of rice being sold along the streets of Agdangan. 

Second Day: Island Hopping

Having brought with me my Mass kit, I celebrated the Sunday mass at the Borawan View Resort attended by the owners and their workers. After breakfast we then had a whole day in the beach. The owner Roel “Bobbit” Padilla with his balikbayan brother Leo joined us in the boat. He brought us first to the Kuwebang Lampas which  had clear waters and white sand. This Kuwebang Lampas was at the island of Pagbilao near the coal power plant. Upon nearing the cove one could see the two tall exhaust stacks of the power plant. On the rocky left end of the cove there is a big opening  which one can  pass  through to the other side of the cove. What is interesting is that the waters upon getting out to the other side is already warm.  This is because the hot waters from the power plant  are being disposed nearby. We were told that the hot waters that come  out from the plant are not polluted. It  could be true as there was no  discoloration  from the surrounding  areas and there were still plenty of small fishes that could  be  seen around.

Celebrating mass at the Borawan View Resort.

Kuwebang Lampas.

The white sands of Kuwebang Lampas.

Clear waters at the other end of Kuwebang Lampas. 

Several local tourists would go on  overnight camping, Kuwebang Lampas being one of the nearest white beach in Quezon. 

A panoramic view of Kuwebang Lampas. 

The tall exhaust stack from the coal power plant nearby is a distinctive mark of Kuwebang Lampas

There were plenty of campers there already. We set our tables and umbrella at the end of the cove opposite the Kuwebang Lampas. Some of our food were cooked beforehand at the resort, but the fish, eggplant and meat were grilled already at the beach.

While we were having lunch the family of the owner of Borawan resort arrived on a speed boat and joined us in our table. They were friends of Bobbit Padilla, our host and owner of Borawan View.  

Had a whole day swimming at the Kuwebang Lampas. Late in the afternoon we visited the Borawan just for picture taking. The place indeed has beautiful views with their rock formation by the shore but the water was not as clear as that of Kuwebang Lampas. 

We were not able to set foot in Dampalitan beach which supposedly was our last stop as it was already lowtide. 

Borawan beach has ivory colored sand. 

A combination of the names of Boracay and Palawan, Borawan beach is one of the nearest white sand beach in the Southern Tagalog area. 

In the evening after dinner, with some big shrimps especially cooked by Leo, soft and sweet, Bobbit invited us for a videoke at the second floor of the resort.

Third Day

After a light breakfast  we left the Borawan View for our visit to the different churches around the Bondoc Peninsula.  

Our first stop was at the church of Unisan. The church was under and the patronage of St. Peter the Apostle.

The next church was the Conversion of St. Paul Parish Church in Pitogo.  It was an old church made of coral stones.  It had a bare façade with three levels, the topmost of which had  a  rounded pediment  capped on top by an octagonal belfry which had no bells since the bells were hanging in between two narra trees in front of the church. It had an arched main portal flanked by two columns. Two niches on each  side had no statues inside. Three closed windows were on the second level and a small octagonal niche was on the pediment with a statue enclosed in glass perhaps of St. Paul. The façade was stripped  of its palitada exposing what looked like coral stones. Inside, the church had a simple altar with only the crucifix in the middle. On the right corner  of the altar was a small statue encased in glass of St. Paul. There was no tabernacle in the altar but was rather kept in a separate Blessed  Sacrament chapel.

The church of Macalelon is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, a statue of which is placed at the niche at the pediment of the façade. The façade is flanked on both sides by belfries with a cross on top like the top of the pediment.  The main door in the middle has niches on both sides. The second tier has a colored glass window in the middle on  top of the  main door with two niches  on  bothsides.  The façade is also stripped of its palitada exposing  the irregular sizes of stones which I’m not sure whether they were adobe or coral stones.  The altar inside the church was also simple with a crucifix in the middle and two concrete niches at both sides angled at 45 degrees. There was also no tabernacle found in the altar.

General Luna.
The church of General Luna was rather new. The façade had twelve recessed arches which run from the base to almost to the top of the façade. The wall of the  top half of the arches were made of decorative hollow blocks with the cursillo cross design. An arched door in the middle had a canopy  on top. The rectangular belfry stood on the left of the church. The church altar inside had only the crucifix with a stained glass background of Mary and John the Evangelist. There was also no tabernacle at the altar but kept at the Adoration Chapel by the side of the church. The patron saint of the parish was St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The façade of the Catanauan church had two levels and a pediment with a niche of  the Immaculate Conception which was  the patron saint of  the parish. The second level had three arched windows, while the first level had an arched main portal flanked by two niches on the side. The two levels of the façade were divided by four pairs of twin columns on each level which were painted in white,  while the main façade was painted in gray. On top of the triangular pediment was a rectangular belfry topped with  a cross. Inside, the church had a gold-leafed retablo with only one niche containing the crucifix, flanked by three columns on each side. At both sides of the altar were also a niche with the statues of the Black Madonna and St. Joseph. Prominent also was the absence of the tabernacle on the altar. There were paintings on the ceiling with the Last Supper as the biggest painting. The altar flooring was made of granite and marble and the whole church was impeccably clean with gleaming floorings. Met the parish priest, Fr. Zoleta and asked that we be allowed to say a private mass at the main altar since it was my birthday that day.

The church of Catanauan has the most beautiful interior in all the churches of the Bondoc Peninsula. It was immaculately clean with shiny floors. 

After the mass we were brought by the parish priest to the Eyns restaurant, the owner of whom was a friend and member of the finance council of the parish. 

There was a funeral mass which was about to be finished when we arrived at the church of Mulanay which is dedicated to St. Peter the Apostle as its patron. The church has a simple  façade of two levels with a recessed and arched main door. Two niches flanked the main portal, while a window with the bottom half made of decorative hollow  blocks was  on the second  level. The pediment had a curvilinear design with a circular window  and a niche below it without a statue inside. The pediment was topped by a two level octagonal belfry with a balustrade surrounding the second level with arched windows on four sides. At the altar was a crucifix with rectangular columns on each side.  A concrete niche was on each side of the crucifix with statues of St. Peter the Apostle and the Blessed Virgin Mary on the other side. The altar table had beautiful designs with the lamb in the middle and three small niches on each side with bas reliefs of saints inside. Like other churches that we saw, there was also no tabernacle kept on the altar.

Some children posing with Sta Claus in the plaza fronting the church. 

An  balustraded arch in front of the church of Mulanay serves as the structure for the Salubong on Easter Sunday. 

San Francisco.
The last town on the south western part of the Bondoc Peninsula is San Francisco. Being already in the south, many of the residents already speak Cebuano which I noticed right away from the people  who were loitering  near the church. The church of San Francisco was already modern. It had a short façade with  canopied front divided  into five parts: the main square door flanked by low arched windows on both sides and another arched door on both ends.  On top of the canopy on the second level were three arched windows and arched blind windows at both ends. The belfry was quite new made of bricks standing  separate a few meters away from  the church in octagonal form. It had three  window levels with arched windows on each side. The main altar had a Franciscan cross at the middle with a bare background. There was also no tabernacle that could be seen on the altar. It had exposed wooden beams inside with arch formation.

The three-level octagonal belfry with arched windows is situated apart from the church of San Francisco.

Facade of the parish church of San Francisco. 

The Franciscan cross prominently hangs on the main altar of the church.

San Narciso.
We were told that the road from San Francisco to San Andres was not yet cemented. So we were advised that we go back to Mulanay and cross over to the eastern side of the peninsula to San Narciso and from there go south to San Andres, the last town on the southeastern side of the peninsula.  It was already late in the afternoon when we arrived in San Narciso. So we decided to go to San Andres the following day.

The church of San Narciso had a modern feel.  The façade was made of bricks divided into three arches which reached up to the triangular pediment. The middle  arch which was the widest had an arched stained glass window on top of the three arched canopy which covered the main portal. The four sided belfry stood on the right of the church.  Eight steps led to the main door  of the church. In front  of the church was a wide church grounds with a not so maintained tennis court on the left side.  The altar which had a tiled wall white in the middle and green on both sides had  a crucifix with a stained glass in the form of a cross as  background.  A  tabernacle, the only one we saw in the peninsula was on the left side of the altar. 

Simple altar of the church of San Narciso where  a stained glass window in the form of a cross serves as the background for the Crucifix. 

Fourth Day.

San Andres.
It  rained  intermittently the whole night in San Narciso. We took lodging at the Friends Diners Lodge which was situated near the town market. It was the only lodging that I saw in the internet situated in the town. We had our dinner  in one of the carinderias near  the market. Since we will  have a long travel  the following day, we decided to have our breakfast  at six and leave by seven in the morning for San Andres so that  we could be able to visit all the towns of the Bondoc peninsula.

Mass was just starting when we arrived at the church of San Andres which was situated on an elevated part of the town. So we stayed for the mass. It was an octagonal church  with a wide canopy in front of it. On  top of the church was also an octagonal structure surrounded by balusters topped by a cross.   A simple cross was in the middle of the altar. The tabernacle was kept in Blessed Sacrament Chapel on the right side of the altar which could be seen from the main church. It had a glass sliding door.

Perhaps noticing some new faces, the parish priest approached us after the mass.

The port of San Andres. 

The parish church of San Andres.

A formal picture taking with the parish priest of San Andres. 

Abuyon, San Narciso.    
A one way sign from the highway made us turn and go  through the main street of Abuyon, San Narciso thus passing by the church of this barangay parish which is  dedicated to the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. This is a recently built church with simple façade.

Abuyon is a barangay parish of  San Narciso. 

Church altar of the Abuyon Church. 

The last town northeast of the Bondoc peninsula.

The parish church of Buenavista is dedicated to St. Lawrence the Deacon.

Church altar of Buenavista. 


Archie Pellago said...

Bondoc Peninsula, is one of the destination I suggest you must explore. I had a great time visiting my relatives there. Hope for more posts about the hidden beauty of Quezon.

Unknown said...
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Lyra said...

Hi. I am looking for some photographs of St. Peter the Apostle Parish Church in Unisan Quezon to help the parish priest raise funds for improvement of their multi-purpose hall. May I please use your photo of the church?

Neil Alvin Nicerio said...

Nice blog article. A long read but definitely worth it. More power from a fellow blogger...

Neil Nicerio of