Basilica de San Martin de Tours in Taal | Batangas

The Basilica de San Martin de Tours or simply known as Taal Basilica is considered to be the biggest Catholic church in Asia. I was doubting that fact outside even though the facade of the basilica was imposing with its solid structure and high arching pillars but when I stepped inside the church, that's where the hugeness of the place made its presence felt.

The center was wide and adorned by a tall altar and high ceilings, the two wings on both sides are enough to fit two separate churches of normal sizes. Immediately, my gaze was transfixed at the rows of steel decorated chandeliers hanging from the ceilings which was adorned by a stylish painting design.

Eileen Campos

The Taal Basilica was built by the Augustinians in 1575 with St. Martin de Tours as its patron saint. However, along with other Spanish colonial churches that were destroyed by fire and other natural calamities, the Basilica wasn't spared when Taal Volcano erupted in 1754, it destroyed the whole church and the town of Taal as well, with portions of the Taal town going underwater, so as the town folks move inland to higher ground to resettle and rebuilt the town, the church was rebuilt into its current location in 1755 on a piece of land donated by Father Martin Aguirre.

Ria Jose

In 1849, an earthquake destroyed the church and was left to ruins until a major construction began in 1856 until 1878 with Spanish architect Luciano Oliver designing and supervising the rebuilding of the church. The church became a Basilica in 1954 and was declared a national shrine on January 16, 1974.

Batangas Travel guide

The basilica is located in the town center about 200-300 meters from the town municipal hall and on an elevated portion a dozen steps up, a location that gives visitors a nice vantage point of the town, while standing near the statue of Christ before entering the basilica.

Marianne Tagaca

Black and white marble adorned the floors of the Basilica and the wall was plastered with paintings with high arching beams and the "Pulpito" that attracts one's attention upon entering and the high doric altar that features the image of its patron Saint Martin de Tours.

When I went outside, I recognized how big the basilica when I counted 5 large windows on each of its 2 columns which was divided by 5 sections and manned by 5 doors on the ground floor. The bell tower is currently undergoing renovation located on the left side of the basilica.

One might think that basilica is too big for such a small town like Taal, but by evening of the Sunday that we went there, when the mass started, the Basilica was filled by parishioners in no time thus eliminating that "too big for such a small town" idea of mine.

The wind was blowing chill through my spine when the mass concluded and as we walked out of the imposing yet homely basilica, I felt every bit at home in a town like Taal. People quietly walked down the steps with murmurs of friendly conversation and with synchronicity unto the park and filled the tiny streets until they disappeared finally from my sight.

As the surroundings of the church was engulfed in darkness of the night and only the tall trees around adorned with Christmas decoration provided blinking neon lights, that and the wind tells me that the Christmas spirit is still alive in this place, even though its already January - but on second thought, I think this is really the kind of feeling one gets in a town like Taal, a feeling of Christmas air all year long.

I'm pretty sure that the Basilica of Taal plays a big part in connecting all of the town folks of Taal together and heaves together a long fine thread that holds everybody through their faith which is expressed throughout  time in this magnificent place of worship.

The only regret I had was not bringing a wide angle lens. I used a 55mm-300mm telepoto lens instead.