Bato is a small, quaint town located on the southwest part of the island of Catanduanes. It is probably well-known for its century old church built on a small hill facing Bato River and greets everyone upon entrance to the town. It took 53 years and six different parish administrations, from 1830 to 1883, to build.
The St. John the Baptist Church (more commonly known as Bato Church) has thick and massive walls made of mortar and coral lime stones designed to withstand the strong typhoons the batter the "island of the howling winds" every year.
The marvelous architecture is significant in its facade with small plant sprouting from the stones which adds an amazing character to it. Good thing that the church had retained its old colonial look despite the test of time. It is the only remaining structure of its kind in the entire province.
Though, the church's exterior is very old and regal the inside has been renovated through the years. It is evident in the modern altar and ceiling. Nonetheless, the church (which reminds me of Barcelona Church in nearby province of Sorsogon) is still very charming and well-preserved.
We also went up to the belfry which is basically a dwelling place for bats. The smell stinks; but we braved it as we want to enjoy the view up there.
Bato Church is definitely one of the landmarks that shouldn't to be missed when visiting Catanduanes.
HOW TO GET TO CATANDUANES
By Air: Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Zest Air offer direct flights from Manila to Virac, the capital of Catanduanes. Travel time is about an hour.
By Land and Sea: From Manila, take a bus bound for Legaspi City which takes about 10-12 hours. From there, take a jeepeney to Tabaco City port and take a RORO to Virac. Ferry leaves at 6:30 AM in Tobaco City and 1:00 PM from Virac daily. Fare is about Php 220.00 per person.
HOW TO GET TO BATO CHURCH
By Public Transportation: It is just 8 kilometers away from the capital town of Virac. You could take a jeepney bound for Bato or hire a tricycle for a short ride to the church.
By Rented Vehicle: Due to the scarcity of transportation, I highly suggest that you rent a transportation in exploring the island. I recommend our driver, Kuya Chris Marasigan, you can contact him at 0929-1092780. The whole day tour includes Puraran Beach, PAGASA Weather Radar Station, Bato Church, Maribina Falls and Twin Rocks Resort. One day tour is at 2,500 pesos on his Isuzu Crosswind which could fit around 6-8 persons.
This is part of my Catanduanes-Caramoan trip that happened last March 24-26, 2012 with my friends Billy, Cris and Edmund. Catanduanes is the 57th province on my list and this trip is my 2nd time to visit Camarines Sur. We had an awesome time just hanging around and exploring the stunning sights of this island province in Bicol region. Join us as I continue my journey to visit all 80 provinces in the Philippines!
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