The Church of San Matias in Tumauini | Isabela

Given the opportunity, I always make an effort to drop by old churches of towns I pass by when I travel. I always admire the architecture, the brick walls, the grand altar and the history churches such as this has and the manner which it was able to test time through earthquakes, fires, wars and other natural calamities.

Lauren Denoga and Sharlyn Del Rosario

When I was plotting our trip to Cagayan Valley and asking around for some information, fellow travel blogger and Philippine Catholicism historian Joel Aldor recommended visiting The Church of San Matias at Tumauini, Isabela en route to Tuguegarao. So, instead of heading straight to Tuguegarao from Cubao we decided to drop by the town of Tumauini in Isabela.

Lauren Denoga

We arrived in Tumauini straight from Cubao at around 8:00 a.m. of Saturday. The church is not visible from the highway but it is a short walking distance away. We made the mistake of asking if we needed to ride a tricycle to reach the place and the obvious answer we got from a trike driver was "OO malayo layo po yun". We ended up taking a tricycle ride with me "dibs on the backride" (as Lauren would love to say) and Sharlyn and Lauren cramming themselves inside. After a few seconds we reached San Matias Church (a trip we could have walked for a minute to reach).

Mishi Magno

Anyway, the fare costs us only 20 pesos but it would be easier to just walk instead of having to go through putting your backpack on the back of the trike, lowering your body to fit inside like a sardine and doing the reverse when getting off. I prefer walking over short tricycle ride–you get a better feel of a new place when you walk.

Kimi Lu

Upon arriving, we were greeted by the majestic façade of the church made of bricks. Behind it stood a visually arresting white belfry appearing like a cake from a distance. It contrasted wonderfully with the reddish brick walls of the church. It felt like being blasted back into the past, here in front of this old church surrounded by modern houses and paved roads. I can imagine the church in a fast forward motion with all the infrastructures around it disappearing and reappearing throughout time and only the church would remain standing by its lonesome.

That's the kind of feeling I get when I'm around old Spanish colonial churches. It's like its invisible and unshakable like the kind of faith the church-goers have. Something I lack within myself. (somehow I took note of this and jotted it on my memory bank - pending further examination)

According to the Tumauini website:

"(the Church of San Matias was) build of light materials by Francisco Nunez O. P., and dedicated to the Patron Saint, 1707. Separated from Cabagan and became a regular parish in 1751. The Roman Catholic Church was erected by the Dominican in 1753. They were made of bricks and coral stones with unique cylindrical bell tower, the only of its kind in the Philippines was constructed by Fr. Domingo Forto in 1793 and completed on 1805, became the capital of Isabela for sometimes in 1880′s. The Church was partly damaged during World War II and repaired into original form by the faithful of Tumauini..By virtue of Presidential Decree # 260. 11 August 1973, as amended by Executive Order No. 357, 14 January 1974 and No. 1505, 11 June 1978. The Church of Tumauini was declared a National Historical Landmark on February 24, 1989"...

We went inside and found out that the church was undergoing a bit of renovation and restoration thus we weren't able to see the normal image of the altar. There were a few workers inside doing carpentry job on the ceiling and installing wood support.

Small towns in far-away provinces around Luzon and the Visayas region have the most beautiful churches, all of it add up to the many reasons why anyone should be able and ready to reach out far and along the way include these landmarks to their travel bucket list.

I may not be a religious person, I've been missing my Sunday mass for years now but I appreciate places of worships and how they help people to live their life by finding peace and security secured by an idea that the place of God is a place for everyone.

Churches such as this serves as the hand that hold towns together. During feasts and fiestas, the center of activity originates from the town church, people of old and young church-goers see each other during mass where they exchange pleasantries and all. It is part of the identity of the town itself and serves as a conduit of human relationships. Without it, small town life will become less colorful.

Throughout time, the church in Tumauini - like many others have withstood the onslaught of nature's battering in order to remain a haven for people looking to enrich their faith and help them get through with their daily lives. The brick walls, the belfry even the headless statue if only it could talk, it'll go on forever. Until then, its presence in this tiny sleepy town of Tumauini is enough to hold the whole town together.