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The visita iglesia or ‘church visits’ is a Holy Week tradition practiced by Catholics all over the world. We have rounded up the top seven churches in Legazpi and the neighboring town of Daraga that you can visit for your annual Visita Iglesia.
Polangui traces its roots in 1584 when a Spanish friar, Baltazar de la Magdalena founded it shortly after the landing of the Spaniards in the remote part of Pantao in Libon, a neighboring municipality. The 10-year construction of the parish church began in 1654 by Fr. Juan Bautista.
The Parish church of St. Stephen Protomartyr in Ligao is a prominent landmark in the city frequented by pilgrims and tourists.
Joroan and Nuestra Señora de Salvacion are inseparable. When we speak of Joroan, we speak of Nuesta Señora de Salvacion because the recorded history of the former is intertwined in the traditions of the Blessed Virgin. In fact, Joroan was known in Bicol because of her image and title as Nuestra Señora de Salvacion.
Bacacay was found in 1649 as a barrio of Tabaco. By 1660, the barrio became independent and developed into a town or poblacion. It occupies the rolling terrain of the eastern slope of Mt. Mayon, descending to the low lands facing the open sea, Pacific Ocean. Under the watchful eyes and guidance of the beautiful St. Rose of Lima and the Lady of the Abandoned, the parish came into its spiritual being.
The St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church in Oas was founded in 1605 by Franciscan missionaries. Fray Marcos de Lisboa was its first pastor. The first Oas church was made of wood and cogon grass. In 1825, a bigger church with a rectory was built out of volcanic rocks and bricks. The construction of the new church was supervised by Fray Francisco de Anunciacion O. Peñaranda.
The Parish Church of St. Dominic de Guzman is the most prominent landmark in the quaint and picturesque town of Sto. Domingo. Built in 1820, the church is built with massive solid stone walls unsupported by pillars. Two dome-shaped belfries give a graceful symmetry to the church. Since cement was not yet used during the construction of the Sto. Domingo church, massive stone walls were built using a mixture of lime, egg albumin, and “tangguli” (or molasses) that serve as binder and hardener.
The Parish Church of Guinobatan, Albay is dedicated to Our Lady of Assumption. Guinobatan as a parish started as a visita of the Municipality of Camalig in 1672. By 1678, Don Francisco Bagamasbad, Chief of the ‘Tenientes Absolutos’, spearheaded a petition to the Governor-General of the Philippines to elevate the visita into an independent municipality. This effort achieved fruition in 1688 when the request was granted. Rev. Fr. Alfonso de Zafra was the first minister of the Parish of Guinobatan. Soon after, the first Guinobatan church was built.
The church of San Juan Bautista in Tabaco City is one of the most stately religious structures in the province of Albay. According to the Estado Geografico Estadistico Historico written in 1805 by Father De Huerta, the recorded history of the city began in 1587 through the missionary work of the Franciscan Fathers. A church dedicated to St. John the Baptist, the city’s patron saint, was first built in Tabaco in 1616 by Fr. Pedro De Alcareso. The construction of the present church started in 1864 and was completed in 1879. The Tabaco Church is unique among Philippine churches because the stones used to build the church bears the distinct marks of the masons.
The Church of St. John the Baptist (San Juan Bautista) in Camalig is another imposing religious structure in the province of Albay. The church is built entirely out of solid blocks of volcanic rock from Mount Mayon. Christianity was brought to Camalig by Capt. Luis de Guzman together with Father Alonzo Jimenez, an Augustinian priest who came with the Legaspi expedition. Evangelization was started in 1578 by the Augustinian missionaries.