Perched on the top of the hill amidst the lush vegetation is the idyllic Mt. Carmel Church or the Tukon Chapel in Batanes. This popular church has a unique charm that will make you fall in love with it the moment you see it. Its attractiveness may be due to its rustic design or maybe because it symbolizes a fulfilled promise. [Check out our list of top tourist spots in Batanes]
The Story Behind The Tukon Chapel
When the parents of Batanes representative Florencio “Butch” Abad were still alive, they dreamed of having a nearby chapel. Every Sunday, they needed to travel three kilometers distance to reach the Santo Domingo de Guzman Cathedral (Basco Cathedral) to attend mass. Sadly, when their vision was fulfilled by their son, they were not alive to see its realization.
Congressman Abad commissioned two of the country’s topnotch architects Tina Torralba and Joven Ignacio to design the chapel. The result was an Ivatan-inspired structure with a stone facade and walls on the outside and the interior features local woodworks. It used red concrete bricks for the roof while the ceiling is decorated with beautiful frescoes of six municipal patron saints of Batanes painted by the scholars of Pacita Abad Center for the Arts.
A Labor of Love
The construction of Tukon Chapel in Batanes is a poignant showcase of cooperative spirit for the greater good. The project was spearheaded by the Abad family, but the community helped them in so many ways. Local craftsmen, carpenters, masons, and other well-skilled laborers offered their services to build it. The hardwood pews and stained glass windows are given by relatives and friends of the Abads.
It was officially opened on May 3, 2008, a perfect moment to also celebrate a wedding in the family. Julia Abad, the daughter of Congressman Abad, who was the Presidential Chief of Staff then, married Englishman Andrew Parker. The family also dedicated the church to the parents of the congressman and the people of the highland village of Tukon. The touching gesture was a memorable moment for everyone, knowing that finally there is a dedicated place to pray and worship God in their vicinity. Its presence eliminates the need to go downtown to hear mass.
The Essence of This Iconic Symbol
The lovely image of this church is now used as part of the promotional materials of the province of Batanes. It is now an iconic symbol of the town of Basco that is featured in magazines, blogs, and social media platforms. Foreign and local tourists can’t stop themselves having a “selfie” or “groupie” with this lovely church. Its captivating beauty has attracted a lot of attention from couples who want their own fairytale wedding. With the fabulous view of majestic Mt. Iraya as a backdrop, the Pacific Ocean on the right, and the West Philippine Sea on the left, it is a perfect wedding destination.
The best part? You can also check out the nearby attractions that add to the excitement of traveling to Batanes:
- Vayang Rolling Hills
- Marlboro Hills
- The Lighthouse in Naidi Hills