Four Centuries of Fortitude: Miracles in Camarines Norte
Choose Philippines | Oct 08, 2015
The Spaniards' interest in the Bicol Region started when Governor General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi sent Captain Juan de Salcedo to locate the rich gold mines of Paracale, Camarines Norte. The captain found thriving communities not only near the mining grounds of Paracale but also in Mambulao (now Jose Panganiban), Daet, and Indan. Motivated by the three basic ideas of their conquest—God, Glory, and Gold, the Spaniards found the area teeming with possibilities as they converted the residents to Catholicism and took hold of the gold mines all for the glory of their country.
With these motives, it is not a secret that much of our country's oldest structures are churches or religious monuments. This holds true for the province of Camarines Norte, which has three churches all built in 1611 by Franciscan friars.
1) Our Lady of Candelaria Church, Paracale
Thirty years after the arrival of the Spaniards in the Visayas, Paracale became a mission post by Franciscan friars. The mission was, however, abandoned in 1634. It was reestablished four years later only to be abandoned again in 1662. It was formally established as a town in 1863. Derived from "para cale" or canal digger, Paracale was known to have a number of gold mines.
Its 404-year-old church features the miraculous image of the Our Lady of the Candelaria. In the historical accounts treasured in the vaults of the Paracale Roman Catholic Convent, it was recorded that one morning in 1809, 37 fully-loaded vintas attempted an invasion of Paracale.
It is claimed that it was the Candelaria herself who descended from the facade and went to the beach to ward off the Moros. The church made of adobe blocks faces the eastern seaboard as it was used to guard the town against marauders. And the patron did just that! Brandishing her sword, she fought with the pirates and lost her finger in the battle.
Stories have it that attempts were later made by devotees to graft her hand with a new finger. Each try was a failure.
2) St. John the Baptist Church, Daet
Like Paracale, Daet was also founded by Franciscan missionaries in 1581. The post was abandoned until 1611, when Fray Alonzo de Valdemoro dedicated the first church of the town to St. John the Baptist.
The oldest of the three, this Spanish-era Church is characterized by a plain and traditional facade, which is a triangular pediment and a a flat wall, and a square bell tower. An arched entrance, two arched window sills, and a space which holds the town patron break the monotony of the exterior.
It was gutted by fire and razed to ground the morning after Christmas in 2012. Just last June 29, 2015, on the Feast Day of St. Peter, it was reopened to the public.
If you're interested in learning more about history through our old churches, then Camarines Norte may be one of your choices. This underrated tourist destination just has a lot more to offer.
Explore More of Camarines Norte
How to Get There
- Bus lines like DLTB, Philtranco, and Superlines have trips to Daet daily (9 to 10 hours).
- From Manila, there are regular flights to Naga.
- From Naga, ride a bus or van going to Daet (2 hours).