Home | About Us | Guestbook | Directions | Contact Us | Research Area | Archives of Featured Articles | Recent Articles | Library | Photo Gallery | The OFMPhilippine Councils | Museo Franciscano


(Bells of St. Francis is availabe in CD.)

Text/Script for “Bells of St. Francis” – Tau Studio


1.   Church of San Bartolome, Nagcarlan

Nagcarlan was only a small barangay when it was first colonized by the Spaniards who were led by Captain Juan de Salcedo, the grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1571. The conversion of the natives to Christianity began shortly after the arrival of the first group of Franciscans in 1578.  However, it was only in 1583 that the town had its first permanent priest, Fray Tomas de Miranda. The first church was made of wood and nipa. It was dedicated to San Bartolome, one of the apostles.

In 1752, the town’s stone and brick church was built under the direction of Fray Cristóbal Torres. The materials used for the construction of the church came from the nearby area. The missionaries simply relied on whatever material the people may offer. This accounts for multi-colored stone and bricks that make the Church walls.

The church was burned in 1781 but Fray Atanacio de Argobejo did immediate repairs. Fray Fernando de la Puebla, to whom the construction of the existing four-story bell tower is attributed, finished the repair works.

In 1845, the parish priest, Fray Vicente Belloc, did a general restoration on the church along the Baroque style.  New and elaborately designed tiles were laid to add splendor to the church’s flooring.

In the 1990’s extensive repair and restoration took place under the supervision of the then parish priest, Monsignor Jose Barrion.

The Franciscan spirit continues to make its presence felt through the Franciscan coat of arms stamped on the bells of the church of Nagcarlan. This seal of the crossed-arms of Christ and St. Francis is marked on the bells in all the Churches built by the Franciscans.


2.   Church of San Antonio de Padua, Pila

It was the Augustinian missionaries who first visited the town of Pila.

But in 1578, the Franciscans, led by Fray Juan de Plasencia and Fray Diego de Oropresa, took over the administration of the town. Impressed by the faith of the townsfolk, Fray Oropresa chose to establish stay in the town while Fray Plasencia opted for the town of Lumbang as his home base. With Fray Oropresa as its first parish priest, the Church of Pila was inaugurated on the feast day of San Antonio de Padua on June 13, 1581. With San Antonio as its protector, the church is said to be the first parish in the Philippines to be dedicated to the saint.

The construction of the Church made of stone began in 1599.  However, due to constant flooding, the town altogether transferred to its present site of Sta. Clara in 1800. The present church together with the convent was completed in 1849 under the supervision of Frs. Antonio Argobejo and Domingo de Valencia. However, both buildings suffered damages during the 1880 earthquake.

The church faces the huge patio with its façade appearing as a well-arranged composition with proportional height and width. Divided into three levels, the vertical division of the frontage is dominated by super-positioned classical Doric columns in pairs at the middle part and single columns at the outer front. However, at the pediment, square piers that flanked the niched statue of San Antonio de Padua replace the columns. The pediment’s raking cornice is lined above by balusters terminated at the base by acroteria similar to that of Baras. Windows of the second level are with frontons while niched statues of the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart are found on the  lower level. The Franciscan seal forms as the keystone of the semi-circular doorway. On the left side of the church is the three level square based octagonal bell tower.

The church bell which has a date inscription of 1681 is known to be the third oldest in the country.


3.   The Church of St. John the Baptist, Liliw

Liliw was a small barangay and part of Nagcarlan when it was first evangelized by Fray Juan de Plasencia and Fray Diego de Oropresa. In 1605, Fray Miguel de San Lucas was assigned as its permanently priest.  The first church was made of wood. It was dedicated to St. John the Baptist.  In 1643, the construction of a concrete church and convent began.  An earthquake in 1880 partially destroyed the church that was reconstructed in 1885. However, on April 6, 1898, the church was gutted by fire. Reconstruction, however, followed thereafter. Tradition says that a wooden statue of San Buenaventura that wept blood in 1664 was being venerated in this Church.


The walls of the Church are made of both red bricks and adobe blocks. The façade made of red bricks is divided into three levels. To the right of the church is a huge three level square based octagonal bell tower covered with a dome on top of which is a cupola.


4.   Church of San Gregorio Magno, Majayjay

The stone marker found in the façade wall indicated that the first missionaries who visited Majayjay were the Augustinians. Though it was not explicitly expressed whether a chapel was built, it is presumed that a structure for the purpose was built in a site called May-It in 1571.  A fire destroyed the structure in 1576. In 1578, when the Franciscan friars led by Fray Juan Plasencia founded a mission in Majayjay they immediately rebuilt the burned church that was dedicated to the patron saint St. Gregory the Great.

Though an authorization for the construction of a stone church was given in 1599, the project could not materialize due to fires that gutted the church three times in between rebuilding. When the town and consequently the church were burned in 1602, the new site of the town was transferred to Ilayan-Majayjay. Here a church of stone was built only to be destroyed again by a fire in 1616. It was only in 1619, that the construction of a stone church began through the assistance of Maestro de Campo Don Buenaventura de Mendoza. This church was completed in 1649. However, in 1660, a fire destroyed a large part of the town, and the church, unfortunately, did not escape the disaster. This prompted the government to require the natives to work uninterrupted for a period of six months in the rebuilding of the church. However, the workers saw no need for it to be totally built. They instead re-strengthened the structural components of the edifice.  Fray Jose de Puertollano decided to sandwich the ruined walls between two layers of brick, thus giving the church walls an unusual thickness of about three meters.  The repair was finished in 1830.   In 1839, 1842 and 1848, typhoons destroyed the church and were subsequently reconstructed by the people.

The church of  Majayjay staggers the eye because of its tremendous proportions and massiveness. The church, of stone and brick, is in fact, one of the few, if not the only three-story church existing in the country today.”

To the right of the church is the five level square bell tower with a conical roof.


5.   The Church of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, Lucban

The Franciscan friars Fray Juan de Plasencia and Fray Diego de Oropesa came to evangelize Lucban in 1578. It remained a visita due to the scarcity of priests who will administer to the spiritual needs of the natives. In 1595 it was made a parish under the ministry of Miguel de Talavera. A church made of wood was built and was placed under the protection of San Luis Obispo of Tolosa. In 1629, the structure was destroyed and the church was transferred to its present site. A church made of stone and masonry covered with nipa was soon built in 1630 and was completed in 1640 while the convent was finished in 1650. In 1683, the roof of the church was changed to tiles and so with the convent under the supervision of Fray Francisco de Huerta. A fire destroyed the structure in 1733. It was on the same year that the church was reconstructed under the administration of Fray Pascual Martínez and was finished in 1738.

The chruch was partially destroyed during the Second World War and was reconstructed under the leadership of Msgr. Antonio Radovan and with the assistance of some friends from America, and the Historical Conservation Society.

This church is very interesting in the sense that one has to analyze closer the frontage only to discover that columns, statues and moldings dominate the wall surface. These elements are not noticeable due to the materials used. The style of architecture of this church is Baroque as shown by the pediment and the curving lines of the stringcourse that divides the façade into three levels. On the second level are semi-circular windows with spaces in between filled with statues of saints on niches and stylized Corinthian columns. The main door at the ground level has double arches with flanking semi-circular windows at the outer front. An octagonal three level bell tower on a square base stands on the left of the church.


6.  Basilica Minore of San Miguel, Tayabas (with narrator)


7.  Church of San Francisco de Asis, Sariaya (with narrator)


8.  Church of Sta. Magdalena, Magdalena, Laguna


The town of Magdalena was known as Ambling, a barangay of Majayjay, until it separated from the latter in 1821.  The first church made of wood and cogon, dedicated to Sta. María Magdalena, was built in 1820. The following year, the Franciscan Fray Antonio Moreno was appointed its first parish priest.


Capt. Pablo de la Concepción in 1829 decreed the building of a stone church so that the townspeople were levied taxes to raise fund for the church building. In addition, the people were required to quarry sand and stone from the river. Construction work on the church continued until 1839 and ceased after that. Resumption on the construction continued only in 1849 until it was finished in 1855.

Facing a rather large plaza, the church is elevated on a high podium reached by a flight of steps. At the left of the Church is a four level octagonal bell tower on a square base. A domical roof with a lantern above is placed over the tower. The bell tower was finished in 1861.


9.  Church of San Sebastian, Lumban


Lumban was, for a time, the center of all missionary activities in Laguna. It was placed under the protection of St. Francis of Assisi because Lumban held the distinction as the first Franciscan mission settlement. However, in the18th century, the town adopted St. Sebastián, the Martyr, as its patron saint and since then, the parish bore the name of the saint.

In 1578, Fray Juan de Placencia chose to minister in Lumban. In order to begin the work of evangelization, a church made of bamboo and thatch was constructed in a place called Entablado found in the northern part of Lumban. Destroyed by a flood, a new church made also of wood was again built. However, the structure suffered another destruction and this time by fire.


In 1586, when Fray Pedro Bautista (now San Pedro Bautista) was the parish priest, he obtained permission for the building of a new church and convent that was to be made of stone. With permission granted by the governor general, Lumban Church was reputed to be the first stone church built in Laguna. Finished in 1600 after long years of hard labor and several tragedies, it was also considered to be the first Franciscan building made of stone built outside Manila. It was also here that the Blessed Sacrament was reserved for the first time outside of Manila in 1600.


The church was heavily damaged during the Japanese Occupation in 1941. In 1947, it was seriously damaged by a storm. The church was repaired in the ensuing years.


The church’s three-level facade has an austere design. On the right of the Church is the square based three level octagonal bell tower. Atop the bell tower is the statue of San Sebastian, its patron saint.

10.  Church of Santiago Apostol, Paete (with narrator)

11.  Church of San Pedro Alcantara and Our Lady of Turumba, Pakil

The town of Pakil was part of Paete until 1676 and Fray Francisco de Barajas became its permanent priest. Pakil took its name from its Datu, Gat Paquil who ruled the town in 1575. Under the protection of San Pedro de Alcántara, its first church structure was made of bamboo and nipa.

In 1732 the construction of the stone church and the convent began under the direction of Fray Fernando de Horo. Destroyed by a fire in 1739, the construction of the church nevertheless, was finished in 1767.. In 1788, the image of  Ntra. Sra. de los Dolores de Turumba was enshrined in the Church.


In 1851, a big fire destroyed the convent and a portion of the church. It was a miracle that the image of the Ntra. Sra. de los Dolores de Turumba was spared from the fire. From then on, the devotion to the Virgin increased.


In 1852, both the church and the convent were restored under the supervision of Fray Juan de Llerena. In 1881, another earthquake destroyed the bell tower and the church’s roof. Fray Juan de Dios Villajos immediately made repairs on the roof on the same year. Then in 1937, an earthquake badly damaged the church that was repaired by Fray Federico Diáz Pines.


Although the interior of the church has been renovated recently, the design of the church remains the same. It’s facade is a reflection of the fine craftsmanship the town is known for. It is embellished with cherubims, scrolls, royal coat-of-arms, garlands, and horizontal stringcourses that divide the three levels of the church’s frontage.


Pairs of stylized Corinthian columns provided vertical relief to the whole design assemblage of the façade. Towards the base of the pediment, the columns are topped by what could be similar to a monstrance carved with cherubim.  Attached to the left of the church is the three level bell tower in receding sizes covered with domical roof and on top of which is a cupola. The topmost level is octagonal while the lower two are square. The bell tower houses four small bells and one huge bell that are rung daily at 12:00 noon and 6:00 p.m.