Bolinao, Pangasinan Church of St James the Great

Originally built in 1609, the church of St. James Parish in Bolinao, Pangasinan is made of black coral stones.  Its bell tower was once the tallest in the entire island of Luzon.  Bolinao church also served as a fortress against the pirates on several occasions.

Today as it was in the past, Bolinao Church is one of Pangasinan’s major landmarks.  Interestingly, the town of Bolinao and the Church of St James is on permanent display at Legoland Malaysia.  It is the only Philippine landmark and destination featured in Legoland.

Pangasinan | St James the Great Parush Church | Photo Essay

People today would recognize Bolinao as a permanent display at Malaysia’s Legoland, notable for the St. James the Great Fortress Church in the center of town. This iconic church was built in 1609 out of black coral stones and was once a fortress built against American, English, and Japanese pirates, as its name suggests. It is the only religious structure in the Philippines to bear the Holy Seal of the Papacy in Vatican, the Governor General’s Seal, and Queen Isabela of Spain’s Seal. Its 75-foot bell tower is also known as one of the tallest in the country.

Pangasinan | St James the Great Parush Church | Photo Essay

The Augustinians, who lived in Bolinao from 1585 to 1587, were the town’s first religious friars. The Dominicans ruled from 1588 to 1599. The Augustinians returned in 1600 and stayed until 1607. The Augustinians’ missionary work was taken over by the Augustinian Recollects, who administered the town from 1609 to 1679, until 1712, when the Dominicans took over again. Because of the problems caused by piratical raids, when the Recollects returned in 1609, they relocated the town to the mainland. The Recollect fathers returned in 1749 and took over the administration until 1784. Since then, the parish has been administered by a number of priests.

Pangasinan | St James the Great Parush Church | Photo Essay

Saint James the Great Parish is in High Renaissance style. One feature of the church is its trefoil arch main door. The overall design of the facade is plain and simple with the super-positioned columns alternating with window openings and tall blind arches conspicuously dominating the ends of the walls.Pangasinan | St James the Great Parush Church | Photo Essay

Awesome Church.  Pay attention to the image enshrined on top of the altar dome.  It is worth a side trip when visiting Patar Beach and the famous Bolinao Lighthouse.


To get to St James Church in Bolinao, take  a bus in Cubao that goes directly to Bolinao.  The church is near the bus terminal and it is in front of the town hall.


  1. yes, patar beach is really nice not only for semmur but all through out the year! try punta riviera, it’s one of the best resort in Bolinao and if you want to just feel the breeze of the sea but don’t want to get soak in the water, try El Pescador it’s really a good resort, the cabannas are so cute! i keep on coming back in this resort, loved it!


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