For one to see a glimpse of the Filipino’s history, visit Bantayan and see the 15th century Bantayan Church which is considered to be as the first and oldest parish established in Cebu, Philippines. Founded in June 11, 1580, the Bantayan Church was offered to the Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion by the Augustinian Priests. After it was accomplished, Saint Peter became the patron saint. The parish territory extended to Maripipi, Panamao and Limangcawayan of Leyte. In 1600, the church was burned and destroyed by the Moro. It was repaired in that same year and the management was turned over to the secular. The construction of the existing structure commenced in 1839 and was finished in 1863.
Used to be a hiding place for the townsfolk during calamities and war, the Bantayan Church stands firm and has seen a lot of notable historical events which happened to Bantayan Island. Considered as one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, together with Santo Niño de Cebu in Cebu City, Baclayon Church in Bohol, Guiob Church in Camiguin and Saint James Parish Church in Dapitan among many others, the Bantayan Church has walls of coral stones just like most of the century-old churches mentioned above. It used to have a roof made of Tisa Clay but because of age, the clays broke. The church’s existing roof is now made of Stainless Steel.
The Bantayan Church is now known to locals as “San Pedro, San Pablo” or Saints Peter and Paul. Inside the church, one can see centuries-old life size statue of saints. It also has a belfry with resonant bells that can be heard miles away. A museum was inaugurated in 2005 during the time of Reverend Fr. Camilo Alia, EV. It was simultaneous during the 425th founding anniversary of the parish. Gaudencio Rosales, the archbishop of Manila, was there to attend and celebrate the event.
The Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan is 15-20 minutes away from the southeastern beaches of Sta. Fe Town. It is fronting the main park of Bantayan Town and all of the locals can tell you the directions to get there. One can rent a motorcycle (self-drive) found near the resorts at P50/hour or P350/day and visit Bantayan Church. Alternatively, one can ride a “habal-habal” (motorcycle with driver) or “trisikad” (bicycle with three wheels) at a varying price, so be sure to negotiate with the driver first.