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Tabaco Church Facade | Photo by bok2009
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.
According to local folklore, when the Spanish first arrived in Tabaco, they approached a native and asked the name of the place. The native, who was a jealous father and didn’t understand Spanish, thought they were trying to take his daughter. His response was Tabac Co! Tabac Co! meaning My Bolo! My Bolo! His daughter brought his bolo, but by that time, the Spanish had already assumed he was referring to the name of the place. The recorded history of the city begins with the arrival of the missionary Franciscans 1587.
The first inhabitants settled along the coast and engaged in fishing and farming. Continuous attacks by Moro raiders forced many to migrate to surrounding area, eventually resulting in a town settlement by 1703. Tabaco City has been stuck by a number of disasters over the centuries. A typhoon in 1811, an eruption from Mayon Volcano in 1814, typhoon Trix in 1952 that completely submerged Natunawan Island, a fire that raised the commercial centre in 1964 and typhoon Sining in 1970.
Inside Tabaco Church | Photo by Tabar MD Photography
Today, Tabaco is a progressive and fast-growing city home to 123,513 people. It is a major agricultural and trading center not only in the province but also in the entire Bicol Region. Tabaco is well-known for its cutlery and metal craft, ceramics, woodcraft, ship building, and caragumoy industry. The city is also home to the Tabaco International Seaport, the only international port in the region.
Tabaco Church Belfry | Photo by rden29
Take the bus or van from the Legazpi City Central Terminal to Tabaco.
View St. John the Baptist Church, Tabaco in a larger map