Boljoon Guide

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This mobile guide is part of the Digital Tourism program of Smart Communications Inc., InnoPub Media and the Boljoon Municipal Government.

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ILI ROCK. Boljoanons consider this huge and jutting slab of geological formation as the town's second most important landmark next to the Parish Complex. During Spanish times and at the height of the Moro raids, it was considered a natural fortress. (Photo provided by the Boljoon Municipal Government)

Welcome to Boljoon

A hundred or so kilometers south of Cebu, the mountain comes so close it almost touches the sea.

This combination of a mountain range backdrop to narrow coastal plains creates a quaint and scenic spot that is now known as the town of Boljoon.

Cebu is an island with a topography that is long and narrow and sports a ridge in the middle that rises to 3,400 feet at its peak and tapers down on its southern and northern ends.

In Boljoon, the coast curves inward and contracts the lowland further so it gets hemmed in by the tall mountainsides. The effect is a picturesque marriage of sea, land, and mountain.

Visitors come across Boljoon after a drive along a part of the coastal highway that snakes around the foot of a rocky promontory hiding the town from view.

This huge and jutting slab of geological formation is called Ili Rock and Boljoanons consider it the town's second most important landmark next to the Parish Complex.

Among the more prominent features of the town center include the Boljoon church, rectory, and watchtower that date back to Spanish colonial times.


Years before Spanish explorers and Augustinian friars landed in Boljoon, however, the town was believed to have hosted a small community of early settlers with a basic culture.

Paul Gershwiler, in his book "Bolhoon: A Cultural Sketch," wrote that archeological excavations of the church ground from 2007-2009 yielded burials that were dated back to the early 16th century.

He added that Zhangzhou-type ceramics, a large bowl of Japanese origin, and other artifacts recovered from the burial grounds also seem to support observations of a flourishing international trade in Cebu that led to some of the coveted goods reaching what was then the settlement of Boljoon.

According to Gershwiler, the excavations paint a picture of a people who lived in post and beam houses, buried their dead underneath their houses, used Chinese porcelain, brass beads, and bolos, and filed their teeth and deformed their skulls.

Like other settlements scattered all over the island of Cebu, the Boljoon community lived along the shore and subsisted on fishing and farming when the Spaniards came to colonize the country in 1565.

The first mention of Boljoon in the Augustinian archives listed it as being a barrio of the town of Carcar. Existing Augustinian records mentioned Boljoon in relation to its creation into a parish in 1599.

It was made independent in both civil and ecclesiastical administration during the October 31, 1606 congress of the congregation.

PATROCINIO DE MARIA CHURCH. The church of the Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio is the only extant fortress church in the country that still has an almost intact enclosure. (Photo provided by the Boljoon Municipal Government)

Boljoon today

Historical records reveal at least five renditions of the town's name: Bolhon, Bolhong, Bolhoon, Bolhoong, and the current one of Boljoon.

There are various stories as to how the town got its name but the one that's widely believed refers to the first interaction between the Spaniards and natives that occurred at the Baño sa Poblacion.

This spot is the site of a gushing spring in the town center and it is where the early settlers congregated to get their water requirements or do their bathing and washing needs.

The narration goes that the natives answered "bolho" - which is the local term for gushing water - when the Spaniards asked them for the name of the place.

Boljoon is two towns away from the southernmost tip of Cebu. It is bounded by the towns of Alcoy on the north, Oslob on the north, and Malabuyoc on the west. East of the town is the Bohol Strait.

It is a fifth class town with 11 barangays which have fishing and farming as their main source of livelihood.

A few years ago, some families in the town started extracting oil from citronella plants and selling this to residents and other parties. The business has since become another source of income for some Boljo-anons.

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