Motorcycle drivers swamped us the moment we stepped on land. We just came from a four-hour ferry ride from Danao City to Poro in Camotes Island and the last thing we wanted was to be constantly asked if we wanted a ride.
Life is probably not that easy in an island like Camotes and the habal habal drivers here are probably just trying to eke out a living from the meager tourists that visit the island during off-peak season, but really, I hope when they hear a tourist say no, they understand that they don’t mean yes or maybe. They really meant no and expect those asking them to stop bugging them with repeated questions. It doesn’t do any good for tourism of the place.
What we did was asked for the tourism office and headed there instead. A woman was kind enough to lead us to the municipal hall of Poro . The structure is a simple two-story affair fronted by a grassy plaza that has among others things, free wifi! Yup, free internet access in a town as remote as Poro!
Our mood lightened up after this, especially after seeing a belfry jutting out of the trees across the plaza. We should have expected one, given that Poro was the seat of the Spanish Government in the region. And like most old Spanish districts, the town revolves around the plaza where the church and the government hall are located.
We approached the church and found a historical marker indicating its lineage. Poro appears to be the first parish in Camotes Island, being founded in 1847. The church was built two years later under the supervision of two Spanish friars, Nicolas Gonzales and Ambrocio Yturriaga.
The inscription says the original structure was made with tabique, which in Spanish means brick partitions. On inspection, the walls of the church however look like they were made of thick coral stones. (Correction, as mentioned by EstanQ on the comment form below, tabique refers to tabique pampango which is a wooden mesh covered with lime).
The rough walls were thankfully left unpainted. Engravings of eight-pronged suns, half and full moons and faux columns decorate the midsection of the façade. A niche above displays an image of the Sto. Nino which looks a bit out of place due to its painted surface. Besides these, Poro Church’s facade is pretty much devoid of any other decorative elements.
A few meters away from the right side of the church stands a separate, relatively new belfry. The original bell tower didn’t last and was reconstructed in 1963. It somehow follows the simple decoration of the main church, the only thing was it is coated in almost pink-colored paint that contrasts so much with the main façade.
We checked the interior of Poro Church but were a bit disappointed that it was not as interesting as its exterior. The walls are painted in green and the barreled ceiling in yellows. It somehow lost the old-world charm and character that its façade strongly exudes. It doesn’t look any different from any town chapel that I’ve seen before.
Our first encounter with the ultra-persistent motorcycle drivers in Camotes Island wasn’t quite the welcome we expected from a small town surrounded by the sea but finding Poro Church somehow made up for that scene. It was an unexpected find, especially for someone like me who really digs shooting old crumbling churches.
Address: Eastern Poblacion, Poro, Camotes Island, Cebu
GPS Coordinates: 10.629402,124.406862
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here