The Church of St.Lawrence,Tiwi, which is also known as San Lorenzo Church, is usually associated with the church building in Brgy.Tigbi in the centre of town opposite Plaza Templado. This is correct but there was another Church of St.Lawrence in Tiwi long before the present building was started in 1829.

Close to the sea in Barangay Baybay, lie the ruins of the first Church of St.Lawrence,Tiwi. Its empty shell the only reminder of the churches short past. Its walls now slowly decaying and being pushed apart by the roots of the Banyan tree overgrowth. Much like the Ta Phrom ancient temple complex in Siem Reap in Cambodia, the roots seem to be holding the walls together.


The Banyan Tree covered growth on the remains of the bell tower. Church of St.Lawrence, Tiwi (1)
Interior of the ruins Church of St. Lawrence, Tiwi
Heritage Talk and Walk to Church of St Lawrence, Tiwi

The Church of St.Lawrence, Tiwi – A short History

The church was originally built near the sea as this was the trade centre of Tiwi with the doors facing the sea as required by Spanish Laws of the Indies Legislation. The Church of St.Lawrence, Tiwi was built with stones and volcanic rocks.

Supporting the walls from the outside were Buttresses, which also gave support in case of an earthquake. The remains of the bell tower can still be seen on the left side of the main portal. There are remains of a stone staircase leading up to the bell tower from the outside. Inside the bell tower there are also the remains of a stone staicase.  

Sadly though, Banyan roots are slowly taking over and growing up the inside walls of the bell tower. The site was not very well protected from the annual raids of Moro pirates, so  a new church was built further inland in 1829.

The old church was burned and destroyed by Moro pirates in 1846. The new Church of St.Lawrence, Tiwi being completed around 1863. The Church ruins are now known as Sinimbahanan.

Stone stairs leading to the old bell tower Church of St.Lawrence, Tiwi ruins
Volcanic Lava Rock Altar in Church of St. Lawrence, Tiwi Ruins
Children playing in windows Church of St.Lawrence, Tiwi ruins

The ruins of the Old Church of St.Lawrence, Tiwi, today

The ruins have been taken over by the locals. A pottery workshop and business has been annexed to the backside walls and the front wall is used as an open fire oven for firing the clay products.
A large slab of volcanic lava rock has been setup as an altar and there is a small statue on the wall behind the altar, which could mean that the ruins are sometimes still in use today.
Children play and run around the interior, climb and sit in the huge wide windows and babies play in playpens in the shade of the Balete trees growing from the walls.

A large open area to the left is said to be an old cemetery. There is an outdoor altar raised up on a slab of concrete. This is used by the potters for drying their clay products in the sun.

*** The visit to St.Lawrence Church ruins was part of the Heritage Walking Tour, an event of the Coron Festival,Tiwi, Albay. The Heritage Walking Tour of Tiwi was led by Mr. Rome Candaza – Tourism Officer Malilipot

Sinimbahan Ruins: Address – Brgy. Baybay, 4513 Tiwi, Albay

Buttresses supporting the walls Church of St Lawrence, Tiwi ruins


Essential Travel Guides

Church of St.Lawrence,

How to Get to Tiwi, Albay

By Air

Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have regular daily flights from Manila to Legazpi. Cebu Pacific also flies between Cebu and Legazpi daily.
From Legazpi you will need to take a tricycle or taxi from the airport to the Central Bus Terminal where there are frequent bus and Van services to Tabaco.
If you know the dates you are travelling to Bicol keep an eye open for online promo fares from Cebu Pacific. Sign up for their Promo Alerts.

By Bus from Manila

There are many bus companies leaving Cubao, Edsa, and Pasay for Legazpi and Tabaco. (Cagsawa, Amihad, Alps, Penafranca ) Travel time is between 10 to 12 hours.Its best to take an overnight bus as these are direct trips.
Buses leaving Manila during daylight hours can take up to 18 hours.
Current Fares start at P850 for a regular aircon bus. Make sure to take warm clothing or a blanket as it can get pretty cold.
There are also cheaper non-aircon buses (also known as Chicken Buses) that leave from Araneta Bus Station, Cubao. Fare is between P400 to P500. 

Getting to Tiwi

By Jeepney

Infront of the Tabaco Mall Jeepneys leave regularly for Tiwi. Fare is P21 and journey time is around  20 to 30 minutes.

For More Information about Tiwi and Tiwi Tourism Contact

Tiwi LGU –
Rome Candaza – Roaming Rome Knows Travel

Church of St. Lawrence, Tiwi Ruins

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