Tabaco City Hall

Tabaco City Hall PastTabaco City Hall Present

For almost 80 years now, the Palacio Presidencia of Tabaco, has housed the local government of the city. It is patterned after William Parson’s design of capitol buildings and was completed in the 1929. It is now considered a rare historical structure. Its design is reminiscent of other vintage government buildings in the Philippines like the Central Post Office and the National Museum in Manila. It is believed that only five to six buildings of similar design exist in the country.

Saint John the Baptist Parish Church

Tabaco City Saint John The Baptist Church Past Tabaco City Saint John The Baptist Church Present

You know you are already in Tabaco when you see a domed and dark tower looming above the buildings in the horizon. The tower is the belfry of the St. John the Baptist Parish Church, or commonly known as Daculang Simbahan (Big Church).

According to the National Historical Institute (NHI), the church, a classic Earthquake Baroque structure was erected under the pastorship of Fr. Fermin Llorente who was a priest, an engineer, and a soldier. Built from 1864 to 1879, the Tabaco Church is made of adobe blocks held together by molasses and lime.

The NHI describes this classic architectural gem thus:

Broken pediment, arched windows and doors, balustrades outlining the edges of the pediment and the corners of the bell tower, paired pilasters, the scrolls topping columns, and spires terminating the two edges of the triangular pediment - are its great architectural forms. For an Earthquake Baroque the huge buttresses, blind windows, and the visible belfry separated from the main church building are characteristics of the said style in Philippine architecture.

Upon careful scrutiny, one will see mysterious insignias etched on the surface of most of the stones. It is believed that these initials, are the abbreviations of the names of the very artisan-masons who crafted the blocks.

Another interesting feature is the carving in the belfry of a person resembling that of a native royalty or datu, side by side with the likeness of the King of Spain. There are many speculations about what this image might mean A popular interpretation is that it symbolizes the Spaniards’ high regard toward the local pre-Hispanic government. Very rare in Philippine church embellishments, this makes the Tabaco church a national cultural treasure.

The Belfry

Tabaco City Belfry Present

Like the Duomo is to Milan, the bell tower is a focal point in Tabaco’s landscape. Being visible from almost anywhere in the city, it is constantly used as a point of reference when trying to locate places within Tabaco. Despite the rising heights of modern buildings, the church belfry remains an imposing structure in Tabaco. One can only imagine how much more impressive it was centuries ago, in a bare landscape.

During those ancient times, the belfry might have been a dependable warning device against attacks from pirates. It is said that the tower once had a mystical bell whose powerful tolling could be heard even in distant lands. Because the bell’s thunderous tolling invariably spoiled their attacks, pirates supposedly removed it from the tower and buried it under a river where it is guarded by an unbreakable spell. Old folks say that on quiet nights, the bell’s ringing, though softened by age, can still be heard.

Cimburrio

With its intricate arcs and pillars which complement the subtle dome of this cemetery chapel, the Tabaco Catholic Cemetery Cimburrio is a testament of the city’s indelible Hispanic past. According to the National Historical Institute, the chapel is a combination of medieval and baroque architecture which is patterned after the structural design of the Saint John the Baptist Church.

Bahay na Bato

Tabaco City Manalang House Present

The Smith, Bell and Company house in Tabaco City is an idiosyncrasy. The Spanish-era structure of durable stone and delicate capiz was once the offices of an import-export firm dealing in abaca whose origins dated from 1868.

The incongruity lies in the fact that the former commercial establishment was bought in 1965 by the talented poet Angela Manalang-Gloria. The company house of a firm engaged in buying and selling was purchased by a woman known for her literary brilliance. A house of trade became the home of an artist.

This architectural wonder built of stone blocks adjoined with mortar and molasses, with its weathered wooden doors decorated with sunburst fanlights and second storey windows of mother-of-pearl, has withstood more than a hundred years of typhoons and volcanic eruptions.

It may have been providential that Manalang-Gloria bought the old Smith, Bell and Company trading house because, on hindsight, the lyric poet and her rhythmic verses and the antique stone house with its harmonious architectural design may not have been very different after all.

Tabaco International Port

Tabaco City International Port Past1Tabaco City International Port Past2Tabaco City International Port Past3 Tabaco City International Port Present2

For centuries, the City of Tabaco has served as a strategic access point to both the Bicol region and the country through its international port which was one of the first international ports of entry in the Philippines. The Tabaco International Port is a key to national and regional trade and as such, it is an indispensible harbor for the traffic of goods entering and exiting the city and the region. The Tabaco Port is a natural harbor and is located on the eastern side of Albay facing the island province of Catanduanes and the Pacific Ocean.