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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BY THE SEA. The town's location alongside a wide bay had made it a prime target for Moro attacks in the early 17th up to the 19th century. During one such attack in 1782, the town was reduced to ashes - its houses and church burned.

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A big source of pride of Boljoanons is their rich heritage and culture and they are united in their efforts to preserve practices and structures showcasing the town's colorful and turbulent past.

The town's location alongside a wide bay had made it a prime target for Moro attacks in the early 17th up to the 19th century.

The population of Boljoon remained low because of these frequent pirate raids and the town was even reduced to ashes - its houses and church burned - during the Moro attack of 1782, Paul Gerschwiler wrote in his book "Bolhoon: A Cultural Sketch."

According to Gerschwiler, these violent attacks by the Moros, a multilingual ethnic group in the southern Philippines whose name originates from the Spanish term for Moor, may be retaliation for Spain's attempts to conquer and subjugate Mindanao.

Whatever the reason, a Spanish priest by the name of Fr. Julian Bermejo who led the parish of Boljoon starting in October of 1802 saw the need for a proper defense against these attacks.

Parish Complex attractions

Pueblo fortification

FORTIFIED. A view of Ili Rock from the fortified parish complex. Only the sea-facing side of the fort is missing.

Thus began the construction of a quadrangle fort complete with bulwarks in its corners. This ancient fortification remains mostly intact and is one of the attractions in the Boljoon Parish Complex.

The low and thick walls and remaining bulwarks of the stronghold are prominent parts of the complex.

Only the sea-facing side of the fort is missing as it was demolished in the 20th century to make way for the coastal road, said Ronald Villanueva, the town's heritage and tourism officer.

The Parish Complex is located right at the heart of Boljoon just beside the road where the buses make their stop. The structures within it were central to the running of what was then the pueblo of Boljoon during Spanish colonial times.

Patrocinio de Maria Church

CULTURAL TREASURE.The National Historical Institute declared the Boljoon Church a National Historical Landmark in 1999. In 2001, the National Museum identified it as a National Cultural Treasure.

The church served as both a place of worship and fortress for the people during the Moro sieges. It was built a year after the Moros destroyed the old one in 1782 and completed only in 1841 during the tenure of Fr. Bermejo as parish priest. (Tap to read more)

Rectory (Convento)

The rectory is probably the oldest and biggest remaining residential building from Spanish colonial times in Boljoon.

It is among Cebu's biggest rectories, so built because it hosted top members of the clergy who were regular visitors to Boljoon during Spanish times. (Read more)


SAINT. The image of Santo Tomas de Villanueva is one of three remaining original wooden sculpture placed in the niches in the main retablo of Boljoon's church. The image can be found inside the town's museum.

The Boljoon Parish Museum occupies the ground floor of the rectory and houses the town's liturgical and cultural treasures. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entrance fees are P20 for students, P25 for other locals, and P50 for foreigners. (Read more)

El Gran Baluarte

One of the fortifications constructed by Fr. Bermejo within the complex is a two-level blockhouse facing the sea that now serves as a bell tower. This was used as a watchtower and bulwark in Fr. Bermejo's days. (Read more)

Escuela Catolica

The building served as a dormitory for children receiving instructions on taking their first communion. It was a place for religious teachings and had, at one time, served as a primary school. (Read more)

Plaza Bermejo

Located across the road from the church, Plaza Bermejo offers a great view of the Boljoon coast. (Photo provided by the Boljoon Municipal Government.) (Read more)

Other Boljoon landmarks

Ili Rock

Ili Rock or Ilihan served as a natural fortress during pre-historic times and early Boljoon settlers were believed to have built their homes close to this rock formation. (Photo provided by the Boljoon Municipal Government.) (Read more)

BaƱo sa Poblacion

This area is believed to be where the locals and the Spaniards first came into contact with one another. (Read more)

Dr. Dionesio Neri House

This house had once been used as headquarters of the guerrilla army under Major Leonilo Jamoy during Wold War II. (Read more)

Balay Cirilo Sestoso

This house was built by a gobernadorcillo during the Spanish period and is probably the only remaining 19th century house in Boljoon. (Read more)

Baluarte sa Fuente

This two-storey watchtower forms part of a series of defense structures along the southern towns of Cebu that communicated with each other to warn coastal settlers of incoming Moro attacks. (Read more)

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