At the center of Batan Island of the country’s northernmost province, Batanes, stands proud and mighty a national cultural treasure. Facing the vast West Philippine Sea, the Church of San Carlos Borromeo in Mahatao has stood the test of time and season. In fact, for 230 years, the church’s main structure remained as it is.
The first church of Mahatao was a small chapel of light materials built in 1787. When the town was put under the patronage of San Carlos Borromeo in 1798, the church was already made of stone and modest in size. A strong typhoon in 1872 destroyed the first stone church. But the following year, a new and beautiful church was built on the same site by Father Crescencio Polo, O,P., its design and ornamentation was Baroque in style.
On July 31, 2001, the Church of San Carlos Borromeo was one of the Philippine colonial churches declared by the National Museum as a national cultural treasure. The National Commission for Culture and the Arts had identified and selected it as one of 26 Spanish Colonial Era churches to be under its conservation program. Interestingly, on 19 September 1898, Ivatan revolutionaries raised the Katipunan flag in its bell tower.