Porta Mayor: San Miguel Arcangel Parish Church

A distinguishing characteristic of the San Miguel Arcangel Parish Church is the high artistic quality and symbolism of its masonry. This is reflected even in its main doors, which bear Baroque and semi-Rococo embellishments. The church of Argao has a Porta Mayor and side door that are each studded with 72 identical bronze rosettes.

Typical of Spanish colonial churches in the Philippines, it has a vaulted wooden ceiling that covers a simple nave and a transept that gives it a cruciform shape.

The completion of this present-day church can be traced back to 1788, said the book Balaanong Bahandi, citing Archdiocesan records.

Although another historian, Pedro Galende, attributed the current structure to Fr. Mateo Perez, who served as parish priest for 33 straight years from 1803 to 1806, the date “1738” engraved above the arch of the church’s side door indicates it may have been completed during Fr. Francisco Espina’s time from 1782 to 1798.

Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church

The simple and plain wooden entrance to the Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church in Bantayan provides a sharp contrast to the richly embellished exterior and interior walls. Reliefs of such heavenly beings as angels and saints adorn the facade and coral stone walls of the Bantayan Church.

Bantayan is the first parish to be established in Cebu. It was founded by Augustinians in a gathering in Manila on June 11, 1580 as the Convento de la Asuncion de Nuestra Señora or Our Lady of the Assumption. It was established 4 years before the Parish of San Nicolas in Cebu City.

Since the town was a frequent target of pirate raids, Fr. Doroteo Andrada del Rosario, who was assigned to administer the parish in 1834, set about building a church that could also serve as refuge.

The present stone church was built by Fr. del Rosario in 1839 and completed in 1863. The church is distinguished by its thick walls, likely the thickest in Cebu, and rich embellishments.