San Pablo Church Ruins | Isabela

We've been sitting on the bus from Cubao for almost 10 hours and after a short stop-over at the town of Tumauini to see for our own eyes, the Church of San Mattias - which did not disappoint, because of its spectacular Spanish colonial architecture, we followed it up by stopping over the town of San Pablo in Isabela just before we reach the next town of Tuguegarao, Cagayan.

Church ruins in Isabela

Actually, we were so tired from the long trip and a thought to skip San Pablo crossed our mind for a minute and the ensuing confusion parlayed also to the bus driver and the conductor when they asked us where we're getting off.

As the bus was rolling along San Pablo...

Bus Driver: "San kayo bababa"? ("Where are you getting off?")
Lauren: "Tuguegarao"
Conductor: "San baba nyo?" ("Where are you getting off?")
Me: "San Pablo "

These confusing question and answer 'tete-a-tete' was repeated four times. Confused, the bus driver stopped driving before flooring the gas and then halting and then starting again until he had enough and kicked hard on the brake pedal and happily let us out of the bus. They weren't pissed about our moment of indecisiveness, they even told us that the Church ruins is really a sight to behold.

Lauren Denoga

And while we're walking towards the church ruins I also thought about maybe we should have gone straight to Tuguegarao so we could lay down for a while on the bed of a cheap inn and take a brief rest. However, all thoughts pertaining to further question our decision to make yet another stop-over in a small town was thrown out of my brain queue of 'things we should have done" when we started to see the towering belfry and the facade of what is known as the "San Pablo de Cabigan Church Ruins"

I was so freaking glad that with a full hiking backpack, Lauren lugging around two bags and Sharlyn almost pulling her own pack - weary from the long bus travel, the three of us cheerfully made the decision to stall our arrival in Tuguegarao by passing this town and that of Tumauini.

San Pablo Church architecture

Most of the time we chase a schedule and condition our mind that we must be at this place at this given time on the dot and all, but what we don't know is we are just bringing upon ourselves the lost opportunity to see other places in between. It's like going from point A to D - BUT, you end up also visiting point B and C en route to point D. Traveling becomes better when you follow that kind of schedule or in reality its the lack of any schedule that makes traveling awesome.

The San Pablo Church was built in 1624 making it the oldest in the province becoming a witness to the history of the folks in Isabela and nearby Cagayan who made long pilgrimage just to attend mass in this church during the old days. The church was heavily damaged by Japanese bombings during World War II that left the facade and the belfry appeared in ruined state. Even so, the rococo inspired architecture and the brick looking limestone rocks makes it still even up to this day a sight to behold and easy to appreciate.

My brother who is an architect will be more able to describe in writing the design of this church, but I could not put emphasis on the major design and architecture elements of the San Pablo Church, rather I'd let these few photographs speak for itself.

The San Pablo de Cabigan Church Ruins is located near the highway, just get off at the San Pablo highway by telling the bus driver that you're going the way of the church and just walk for like 50-70 meters inside a residential subdivision but the church lies on a grassy and field like grounds.

And off we leave the town of San Pablo - captivated by the ruins of a church that has stood witness to the history of the town and even the whole province of Isabela. Countless herds of the Catholic faithfuls have attended mass, christening, even got married, had their final mass before getting laid to rest. It is forever a part of the heritage and culture of Isabela and I hope that future generation would take proper actions to safeguard heritage sites such as the San Pablo Church Ruins without ruining what was left of the place.

This church was featured in CNN when a crew by Dan Rivers went to the Philippines to chase and cover a typhoon, but when the typhoon weakens so is their story. While on the way back they passed by the town of San Pablo from Tuguegarao and they decided to film a story about this beautiful church ruins.