St. John the Baptist Church in Camalig, Albay

St. John the Baptist Church
St. John the Baptist Church | @bicolmuseum via Photo: Shubert Ciencia

St. John the Baptist Church in Camalig, Albay

St. John the Baptist Church in Camalig, Albay is massive. It is one of the sturdiest and most beautiful churches in the region. But did you know that it was made from Mayon’s volcanic rocks – the same ones that destroyed their town in 1814?

Mt. Mayon’s most destructive eruption in 1814 nearly buried the historic town of Camalig. The residents moved to the mountains, where they constructed a temporary makeshift chapel. But they returned to their old townsite in 1837 and began rebuilding their church. They made use of all volcanic stones lying about and finished construction in 1848.

Hundreds of stone-cutters toiled every day under Spanish engineers and parish priests. To this day, the church walls still bear the “masons marks” or encrypted symbols of masons who helped build it.

The National Museum of the Philippines declared St. John the Baptist as an Important Cultural Property.

The existing church is around 171 years old. It withstood volcanic eruptions, natural calamities, and two great wars: the Spanish-American War and World War II. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines also tagged it as a historical site.

The Church stands to this day as a testament to the Bicolano’s abounding faith and resilience. It is an embodiment of their ability to stand up, time and again, from adversity.

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