|Purisima Concepcion de Nuestra Senora|
One of the sites in Culion Island that was hard to miss is the Purisima Concepcion de Nuestra Senora (Immaculate Conception Church). The church was an imposing structure, one of the oldest buildings in the island. Its dramatic steps were seen from the gate of the leprosarium.
A group of Augustinian priests arrived on this remote island in 1622 and established a parish thereafter. The island was a constant target of harassment and raids by Muslims pirates that around 1740, the superior of the Augustinian Recollects decided to construct a watchtower and fort as a defense measure against the Moro Raiders. Within the fort, this church of about 25 meters long and 10 meters wide made of hewn coral rock was built.
The interior of the church had been renovated since, I'm sure, as the arches reminded me of Silliman University Hall (built in early 1900's). And I couldn't help but admire the design of the nave and the light coming in. As this church sits by the sea, the breezes were cool and salty. It was was closed when we visited because they were preparing for an important religious event the next day. But the ladies in the parish office were kind enough to let us explore the church.
Looking towards the main entrance of the church, I noticed the gallery for the choir and a stoup standing infront of the door. The yellow tiles are beautiful.
Beside the main entrance was the tomb of a Jesuit priest, Fr. Javier Olazabal, who came to Culion Island in 1971 and died on the island in 1988 at age 79.
The Immaculate Conception Church viewed from the walls of the old fort beside the watchtower.
Culion Island can be reached by outrigger from Coron town in Busuanga Island; or by a passenger ship that docks here once a week from Manila.
Culion Island, Calamian Group of Islands, northern Palawan
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