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The old church of Caraga

The quaint colonial era church of Caraga

map_caraga.gif The old town of Caraga is famed for its treasure: one of a few remaining Spanish colonial era churches in Mindanao. The 19th century church (not 16th or 17th century as some websites say) in the Parish of San Salvador located at the poblacion (town center) is just a small and simple structure founded by the Jesuits especially under Fr. Pablo Pastells, SJ. It is made of coral and limestone blocks/rocks placed on top of each other.

The interior has been renovated already but the narra hardwood used as posts are still there and exposed. I’m not sure if the altar is still original but seems like it. The baptistry, found at the right side near the entrance, also has another large, probably antique, marble basin.

It is interesting to note that the upper part is made of wood, just like the other churches in Mindanao like Jasaan and the ruined Balingasag churches in Misamis Oriental. The reason might be to make it earthquake proof.

The inscription found at the top of the portal.

This church celebrated its centennial in 1996. The inscription bearing the symbols of Christ, and perhaps the Jesuits with the year, probably, of foundation as 1884. Note that churches usually takes many years and in some cases, many decades to finish, depending on the availability of manpower, tribute and sponsors that generally reflect the standing of the town and its size.

Caraga was founded much earlier by the Recollects but due to the rampant Muslim slave raiding from the middle of the 18th century until the middle of the 19th century, the town was severely depleted of people either lost to the raids or to the mountains where they took refuge was abandoned.

Not only that, as what historical chroniclers during the era say, the warlike Caraga, the tribal people, also conducted their own raids against the colonizers.

Half the bell that was recovered. The other half was stolen by thieves.

The church also have antique bells with the oldest, a small one, cast in the year 1802 (again, some websites erroneously refer it to as circa 18th century which should be 19th century). Unfortunately, thieves tried to steal one of the bells but because of its weight, were only able to carry the other half (above). The incident was only known a few days later.

An old record book kept at the church.

The above reads:

On the 5th of January, 1897, buried in the cemetery of San Pedro, a visita of this parish, the body of Marta Mayong, widow (unreadable text) who died of natural death… in the morning at the age of 70. Witnessed the burial and extension of…

The antique parish records, still in good condition, are just kept inside a cabinet in one of the rooms of the kumbento (convent*).

Note: Its only in the Philippines that the word convent, traditionally meaning a nunnery or monastery that it has come to denote the priest’s house or casa parochial.

6 thoughts on “The old church of Caraga”

  1. Estan, this is a very nice blog. I envy your travels. hehe. Thanks for droppin by my blog.

  2. Happy New year!
    Wish you all the best for 2008!
    Wow! You keep on seeing new places in the Philippines!
    Very informative as always. Might never see them myself but at least I see them in your blog.

  3. you’ve been everywhere talaga a…sana ako rin

  4. I should also go and visit this place. This is just a motorcycle ride away from my hometown…

  5. Frank Landasan

    Hi Ethan thank you for the Blog:-) You made me proud of my place where i came from… VIVA El Salvador del Mundo Patron de Caraga, Old folks gives a Brief but beautiful picture of the early phase of Caraga’s History, one of them is Policarpo Gumubao he was the keeper of the old book where the history of this place was written, But your Blog shows something different… the picture of the church where i use to play Organ during Sunday Masses reminds me of my younger days… try visit this site,982629 this will show something about this place… Best regards to all Caraguenios

    Magdaya kamo tanan…

  6. Anna Marie Enriquez

    Is there a way I can get the address for San Salvador Catholic Church in Caraga? Please respond to I was born in Caraga and needs a copy of my baptismal cert.

    Thank you.

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