As the country with the largest Catholic population in Asia, it’s no wonder the Philippines is home to many stunning church structures and religious hubs. Head down southwest in Baybay City, and you can visit the beautiful Immaculate Conception Parish Church, also known as Baybay Parish Church.
“Suroy Baybay” or visit Baybay, if you want to see tourist spots minus the big crowds and hustle bustles of big cities. If you’re unfamiliar with Baybay City, it’s located on the western coast of Leyte, fronting the Camotes Islands of Cebu. This quaint city attracts locals and foreign visitors for its popular tourist spots such as Lintaon Peak, Cave Mount Pangasugan, Baybay Parish Church, and more.
If you’re a pilgrim or a regular tourist appreciating historical architecture, a visit to the Baybay Parish Church is surely a must-do when you’re around Leyte. Its rich history and structure will surely captivate your interest. If you’re looking for a quick trip guide, we have you covered!
The Baybay Paris Church or the Immaculate Conception Parish Church in Baybay dates back to 1852. A Spanish friar named Vicente Coronado initiated the baroque style that was popular in Catholic churches at that time.
The Baybay Parish was truly built by the hands of the people of Baybay. Under Father Coronado, workers gathered to work for free labor to build their church for 10 years. Soon, a “maestro” from Manila, Maestro Proceso was invited to finally finish the construction.
Unfortunately, a big fire engulfed the church in 1866. Luckily or probably “miraculously,” the Holy Cross Chapel was spared. It was Capitan Mateo Espinoso, a renowned sculptor and painter, who helped bring the finishing touches to life. The beautiful altar and rails we can see now are all his works.
What to do
The city of Baybay is popular for its beaches and also its faith tourism. It has been a popular tourist spot for pilgrims and religious people looking for churches and holy places.
When you decide to visit the Baybay Parish, you not only visit a historical church but also get treated down memory lane. The church walls are made of baked bricks and coral rocks with stunning Baroque-style architecture. Because different artists have constructed it through time, it represented Baybayanons’ rich history and European church design.
The Baybay Parish Church has a grand altar with four marble columns, representing Neoclassical design. The original antique image of the Immaculate Conception is made of wood and ivory. However, it isn’t always open to the public because it’s kept for preservation. A concrete image is currently displayed instead. It also has a huge bell inside a belfry that is more than 150 years old!
If you’re looking for grand church festivities, you can visit Baybay Church every December 27. It’s the annual pastoral feast of the church in honor of the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of Baybay City. It’s also celebrated in time for the Binaybayon Festival, the city’s celebration of its cultural heritage.
However, the Baybay Parish is open for you any time of the year if you’re looking for a quiet and solemn time for prayer and reflection.
How to get there
To reach Baybay, you must first reach Tacloban City, the capital of Leyte. You can fly via local airlines directly to Tacloban City. From there, you can ride a bus or air-conditioned van to Baybay City. The Baybay Parish Church is around 107km from Tacloban City.
So, the next time you plan your Visita Iglesia or a trip around Leyte, include the Baybay Parish Church in your itinerary. It’ll definitely be worth your time and visit!