Though the tabak or bolo is among the native products of Tabaco, the city actually derived its name from the tabako or tobacco, its primary product during pre-Spanish times. Tabaco is among the eight cities and municipalities that share jurisdiction over majestic Mount Mayon.
St. John the Baptist Parish Church, which stands at Tabaco’s busy center, is the focal point of the city’s religious life. Though Francsiscan friars founded the parish in 1616, the present church was only built in 1864 and subsequently completed in 1879. Five decades prior to its construction, the people of Tabaco also suffered the brunt of Mount Mayon’s destructive 1814 eruption. Its people lost their homes and for years their fields were unproductive due to the ashes and stones spewed by the volcano.
The church was declared a National Cultural Treasure in 2012. Among Philippine churches, this heritage site is unique for the use of volcanic soil and stone in its construction. The church is also notable for the mason marks inscribed in its stones. At present, its rococo-designed bell tower is undergoing repair.
Tabaco City is just a 45-minute jeepney or van ride from Legazpi City. In the vicinity of the church, travelers may also check the city’s shebolith intricately sculpted with landmarks of its history.