Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Camarines Sur to me is the sleepy town of Baao --- home to Sen. Joker Arroyo, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, and the first Filipino bishop of the Roman Catholic church --- and the quaint ancestral house of the Bismontes where we always stayed. Ever our gacious hosts are Pare Dante and his kumander who pampered us with sumptuous Bicolano fare: laing, pinangat, home prepared pili nuts, and various interpretations of the gata (i.e. santol, gulay, isda, etc.). He is of course a third of the Packard Boys triumvirate with me and Pare Eboy.

PHOTO EXPLAINED: That’s me (left) and Pare Dante in Jakarta with Pare Eboy taking the picture. We walked the streets of Bangkok a few months earlier.

On my last visit, Pare Dante obliged my pancit fetish by preparing the Rinconada District’s famed Pancit Bato. We bought the noodles and rekado (i.e. soy sauce, Knorr flavors, oil, onion and garlic) at a nearby store then went to a fish farm to catch a couple of bibes. Pare Dante said that Pancit Bato is perfect with dinuguan that the bibe will be done with. Ka Awi prepared the pancit and Elias the dinguan (from the innards, some of the pitso, and of course the blood). We had a feast and it was indeed a perfect combination.

Baao is an old town having been established when the first church was built in 1684 at the junction of Langoay and Bahay rivers. The church was later destroyed by a typhoon in 1706 and replaced by a second one in 1720. Another church was built when the town was transferred to its present site probably in 1731. This was damaged by the 1811 earthquake and has undergone repairs in 1848 and 1870. Several more renovations were done since then making the church is almost new. Erected in front of the church is a monument to Bishop Jorge Barlin, the first Filipino bishop, who was born in Baao in 23 April 1850. He was consecrated as a bishop in 29 June 1906 and gave the invocation during the opening of the first Philippine Assembly in Manila on 16 October 1907. He died in Rome in 4 September 1909.

Profiles: The Churches of Nabua and Buhi

CHURCH OF THE HOLY CROSS (NABUA, CAMARINES SUR). Nabua was established by the Franciscans in 1578 when the first church was also built. This was razed by fire in 1610 and replaced by another structure that was destroyed by a typhoon in 1611. A stronger church was built from 1630 until 1656. This was probably destroyed and another church --- the present one --- was built and completed in 1700. Repairs were made on the roof in 1878 and in the earthquake-damaged bell tower between 1890 and 1894.

CHURCH OF SAN FRANCISCO DE ASSIS (BUHI, CAMARINES SUR). The Franciscans established the mission of Buhi in 1605. What was probably the first church was built near the town’s lake and destroyed by a fire in 1730. A new church was built in 1735 and destroyed again after sustaining damages from various earthquakes. The present church was built under the supervision of Fr. Angel Malumbre (OFM) between 1870 and 1884. Repairs were made to the roof between 1889 and 1890. The church has been extensively renovated since then.


sarah said...

homaygas! taga-baao po ako!

stephen cenon dato talla said...

Camarines Sur to me is the sleepy town of Baao --- home to Sen. Joker Arroyo, Fr. Joaquin Bernas,... and Luis G. Dato...

Thank you...

Aira Sandino Gabuyo said...


glay said...

Tnx 4 exploring our town.
I miz to be there. I'm here in brunei.