Feature Story Travel

Simbahang Bato, a Work of Art of the Mangyans of Mindoro

WHEN traveling to Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, do not forget to visit the ruins of the “Simbahang Bato.

The “Simbahang Bato” is part of the ruins of the original church built by the Mangyans upon the supervision of the Augustinian priests in 1679. It was constructed out of limestone, wood and other materials quarried and gathered by the natives from the nearby sea, rivers and forests.

The church served as the convent and center of the parish in Naujan, until it was burned, including the nearby community, during the great “Asultos de Moros” (Assault of the Moors) raid in Mindoro on September 11, 1842. After the raid, the church became not only a place of worship but a fort and refuge for the locals. Shortly thereafter, the Agustinians abandoned the ruined church.

Naujan residents claim their old church, which is located in Barangay Bancuro, is miraculous as their prayers were often answered after praying there. The church also saved countless lives in times of calamities, both man-made and natural.

During World War II, residents of Naujan used the remaining stone structure as a hiding place from Japanese soldiers.

After World War II, the priests of the Society of the Divine “Word (SVD), with the help of Bancuro residents built a chapel inside the ruins using using locally available materials like palm leaves for the roof which, in turn, is supported by tree trunks. Thus, the ruins also came to be known as a church within a church.

Among the attractions of the newly built place of worship is its pews, which can seat five people. The beautifully crafted pews were made of tree trunks. The chandeliers were also unique as they were fashioned out of tree branches.

For well traveled eagle eyed visitors, they will surely notice the similarities in the chandeliers and pews used in the church with those that adorn the nearby “Benilda ng Bancuro Resort and Restaurant.” Well, probably because they were made by the same artisans.

In 2006, the SVD’s formally turned over the church again to the Augustinian Recollects who until today manages the church, according to the historical records posted at the church wall.

Simbahang Bato in Pictures

Simbahang Bato’s entrance gate. Image © By KisekiLacroix – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Simbahang Bato’s sanctuary. Image © By KisekiLacroix – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Simbahang Bato’s interior. Image © Kiseki Lacroix – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Simbahang Bato’s altar Image © By KisekiLacroix – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Simbahang Bato’s facade. Image © Martha Thea Alabastro


Nida Mendoza-Abu
Nida Mendoza is a veteran journalist who wrote for Malaya Newspaper in the late 1980’s and early 90’s. She also worked as a stringer for a number of foreign news wire agencies which include Jiji Press, Asahi Simbun and the Associated Press. She is currently the Lipa City based writer of Beyond Deadlines.

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