St. James the Great Parish Church in Bolinao, Pangasinan

One of the oldest churches in Pangasinan, St. James the Great Parish Church in Bolinao, Pangasinan was constructed in 1600s using native materials that includes wood, ground coral stones, rocks, and eggs (probably as binding agent). The church remains the center of catholic faith in Bolinao and served as shelter from pirate raids as well as during the WW2.

st james the great parish church, bolinao, pangasinan


The church survived multiple natural calamities including the 1788 earthquake that damaged the church tower, the 1819 fire that burned the convent, and the 2009 typhoon that caused heavy damage on the church structures.


In front of the church is a marker stating that the first mass was celebrated in the Philippines in 1324. After being forced to land due to a stormy weather, Blessed Fr. Odorico held a thanksgiving mass. He also baptized several locals before returning home in Italy.

bolinao church marker, first mass by fr odorico in the philippines, bolinao, pangasinan


The marker reads:
Born in Pordinone (Italy) around 1275 A.D., Father ODORICO, a courageours and religious Franciscan missionary pioneered the spread of the Gospel in Asia and China. He traveled always barefooted among undescribable difficulties and dangers, exhausting his energies in the service of the Kingdom of GOD.

In 1324, after landing and taking refuge in Bolinao Pangasinan during a stormy weather, Father ODORICO celebrated a thanksgiving Mass in honor of their safe journey and his mission. He also indoctrinated and baptized many of the Malay immigrants in Bolinao.

He returned home to Udine (Friuli) Italy after thirteen years mission. He died a holy death on January 14, 1331. His precious remains are kept in an artistic tomb of the parish Church of our Lady of Mount Carmel in Udine (Italy).


This historical church as a lot to be proud of. Take a look at these other markers:

prayer to blessed odorico
bolinao church marker
st james parish church bolinao marker

The ST. JAMES THE GREAT PARISH Bolinao, Pangasinan was canonically erected in the year 1609 when the Augustinian Friars took over this mission territory which was earlier entrusted by the Spanish Colonial Government to the Dominican Friars in the year 1594 and left the place in the year 1607 due to the vastness of their mission territories and the scarcity of their missionary members.

The Church tower of Bolinao measuring seventy five (75) feet was then the tallest in the whole Pangasinan if not in the entire Northern Luzon. However, an earthquake in 1788 toppled about half of it. Then in 1819, the Church Convent was also accidentally burned.



blessed fr odorico journey


The Church’s Interiors

Here below is the church’s altar and tabernacle.


st james the great parish church interior, bolinao, pangasinan


st james the great parish church altar and tabernacle, bolinao, pangasinan


The church is undergoing structural repairs and maintenance.


This wraps up our 3D/2N Bolinao exploration.


After our Santiago Island trip, we headed back to the mainland to visit Patar rock formations and view the sunset at Cape Bolinao Lighthouse. Along the way, we were forced to stop by and capture this magnificent view. This is the usual scene on Balingasay River.

Balingasay River, Bolinao


Breathtaking Patar Rock Formations

Part of Bolinao, especially the area along the shore, was believed to be submerged. This is the reason for the unusual rock formations. Another thing we noticed is that the water is still shallow even we’ve already walked (quite) far away from the beach.

rock formation, patar, bolinao

We named this “The Ship’s Bow” (just for fun) because if its shape and standing on the edge feels like a popular scene on Titanic. Oh, that was me BTW.


Marine life flourishes on this area. The crevices on the rocks are not only good for the eyes but also for the sea creatures. We couldn’t help but take photos.





patar rock formation


Patar is a great place for photographers, indeed. Breathtaking views await visitors. What’s good with this place is that Patar is not overcrowded. It is simply wonderful and we hope we keep it clean.

The sky is getting dim so we rushed to our next destination. Bolinao lighthouse, here we come!


Sunset Viewing at Cape Bolinao Lighthouse

cape bolinao lighthouse


The moment we’re all waiting for, catching the sunset on one of Bolinao’s highest spots. Cape Bolinao Lighthouse stands on top of Punta Piedra Point. Constructed in early 1900s, the lighthouse is still functioning to this day.

Cape Bolinao Lighthouse, Punta Piedra Point


cape bolinao lighthouse plate tag


Finally, the sun gave us a spectacular sunset.

sunset at cape bolinao, punta piedra point

We took several shots but this one’s our favorite. My brother, JM, was the only one with a DSLR cam and we took turns shooting. I found his words true, “Ito ang experience na hindi nakakasawa“.



Special thanks to JM of Gabrillo Photography for sharing their photos with us.

Bolinao, Pangasinan can be a perfect getaway for a family or backpacking trip. Although Bolinao may not be as popular with Alaminos or San Fabian, this town offers a unique charm. The enchanting places to visit in Bolinao are really worth exploring. The experience of knowing more and exploring Bolinao, Pangasinan is totally exhilarating!


Located at the westernmost tip of Pangasinan, getting to Bolinao is a test of patience. It took us almost 3 hours from Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan. Since we were on a family trip, we have our own private ride. We brought pretty much everything we need like kitchen utensils, charcoal, water, and food.


Day 1 in Bolinao

sunset in bolinao


It was late afternoon when we arrived. To save time, we immediately set up our camp while others prepared dinner. I was mesmerized by the sunset.

camping in bolinao


There are several places to stay in Bolinao but we preferred to sleep in our family-size tent for a real outdoor experience. We built a fire along the shore and got ourselves chilled drinks (bonfire was permitted by a local).

bonfire along the beach in bolinao


Day 2 in Bolinao

We set sail off to Bolinao’s Santiago Island. The island is comprised of six barangays namely, Pilar, Goyoden, Salud, Victory, Lucero, and Binabalian. We rode a motorized boat to reach the island. The locals also rely on boats to take them and their goods to and fro the mainland.

boat ride bolinao


boat ride going to santiago island bolinao



We arrived on the island and this sign welcomed us. Sibarbar Juction.

sibarbar junction, santiago island, bolinao, pangasinan


A family friend invited us for lunch. Do you smell What the folks are cooking? 😀

inihaw na bangus, roasted milkfish


Finally! Bon Appetit!


There is nothing more we could ask for after our hearty lunch. Afterwards, we tried to explore the neighborhood to somehow know more about Santiago Island. Here are some shots.


tuyo, dried fish making


filipino traditional nipa hut


We returned to the port to catch a boat back to the mainland. The day is far from over because our next stop is the famous Patar rock formation and watching the sunset at Cape Bolinao.


Click to read more about the beautiful spots in Bolinao including rock formations in Patar and Cape Bolinao Lighthouse.


Day 3 in Bolinao

This is the day to go back home. But before we do, we don’t want to miss visiting Church of St. James the Great.

Click to read more about St. James the Great Parish Church in Bolinao.


It’s sad to think that I’ll be going back to my routinary home-work-home lifestyle. Yet still, a little break from this agonizing pattern recharges me. I’m looking forward to my next adventure!


How to Get to Bolinao

Manila (Cubao) to Bolinao is a 5-6 hour bus ride and Dagupan to Bolinao is a 2 to 2½-hour trip. Local bus trips are available daily. Once in Bolinao bus terminal, hail a tricycle to take you to Patar.


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