Tyring to squeeze my time’s worth in the province of Marinduque, I quickly searched Google Maps for the towering structure I saw on my jeepney ride from the Port of Buenavista to the main town of Boac. I assumed that it would be the town cathedral, and indeed it was. After witnessing parts of the Moriones Festival, I asked for directions from the locals I passed along the road and I eventually made it to the church’s fortified walls.
The church, it seemed, was once a fortress during the Spanish era. This was quite evident on the rough stone walls surrounding the church yard, and its location, which was on the highest part of town, aptly named Barangay Mataas.
According to the National Historical Institude marker set on its walls, the cathedral was built in 1792. It became a haven for the locals during a Moro attack in the 1800’s and was the place where the Philippine Revolutionary flag was blessed in 1899.
The main body of the church facade is made of rough terra cotta while the bell tower is of cut adobe stones. The style is quite simple; according to Ferd Decena’s En Route, it is a fusion of Filipino-Hispanic Gothic architecture. I can see the Filipino-Hispanic influence, but not the Gothic aspect though.
Off the left side of the church hangs the old bell of the cathedral and if you check the right side, you’d see massive buttresses reminiscent of Paoay’s UNESCO World Heritage church in the province of Ilocos.
Entering its beautifully carved doors, I can see that the walls are in concurrent with its exterior; they are also made of red bricks. Looking upwards, the white ceiling is crisscrossed with dark wooden trims and decorated with sun-like ornaments. And up the church’s sanctuary are its retablos, a main one and two lesser halves.
To me, what really sets Boac Cathedral apart from the many of the old churches I’ve seen, is its medieval-like fortress wall surrounding its courtyard. My initial impression was of surprise, I thought it was like a church surrounded by the walls of Intramuros.