Tumauini Church and its Unique Wedding Cake Bell Tower

Braving the punishing midday heat of the Cagayan Valley, me and Eric went on a short side trip to Isabela Province. I did some googling and found a couple of places in Isabela I’d love to visit.

When Eric told me we were going to Tumauini to visit its church, it drew a big question mark on my mind. It wasn’t one of the places I’ve pinned down.

I didn’t remember reading about the Tumauini Church or seeing its photos online. All I know about Isabela was that its capital, Cauayan City, was 2-3 hours away from Tuguegarao by land and that it was famous for infrastructures such as the Magat Dam, one of the largest dams in the Philippines.

Our destination, Tumauini, located a few towns past the boundary of Cagayan Province, was only 45 minutes away from Tuguegarao.


Scenery along the highway from Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Province to Tumauini, Isabela

Road Trip to Tumauini, Isabela

It seemed like a usual day in this seemingly arid rural countryside … perhaps “arid” might be too harsh a word. I mean no offense.

Traveling in October (during the “berrr” months), I was expecting slightly colder conditions. The weather here was a couple degrees hotter than comfort. Cagayan Valley is known for being the hottest place in the Philippines.

Nonetheless, my enthusiasm was kept alive by the refreshing sight of green fields and more sightings of white cattle. The drive was also very smooth thanks to the well maintained highway.


More white cattle ^_^

Why is it so hot is Cagayan Valley?

My curiosity got the best of me again. I wanted to know why it is hotter in the Cagayan Valley than typical coastal areas. It’s bounded by the cool temperatures of the Sierra Madre mountain range in the east and by the highlands of the Cordillera in the west. Cold air sinks and should flow down into the valley.

Sadly, this is not the case. This is just my understanding of the phenomenon. Bear with me. Air is naturally pushed down creating higher air pressure in lower elevations. Air pressure makes the air denser and hotter. Being in a tropical climate, the area is also exposed to a lot of the sunlight, which warms the air especially during a sunny day. The natural mountain barrier keep this warm air from being exhausted into the ocean and keep the cooler ocean breeze from flowing inland. These factors (and maybe more I do not know about) contribute to the hot temperatures in the Cagayan Valley.

First Sight of the Tumauini Church

I got awestruck at first sight of the Tumauini Church. I’m already a fan of red brick churches. I just love the texture of red bricks. The Tumauini Church, however, stood out for me because of its artistic carved details. It’s the most decorative red brick church I’ve seen.

I’m amazed by its beauty. I love how the circular designs deviate from the usual church architecture.


Church of San Matias in Tumauini, Isabela


Tumauini Church Facade

Tumauini Church NHI Marker

Brick fence infront of the church

Tumauini Church Interiors

The Wedding Cake Bell Tower

The Tumauini Church is known for its tall cylindrical bell tower. It looks like a multi-tiered wedding cake. The stark white works really well to complement the rich color of the red bricks. I would be interested to see this church get a “restoration face lift.” Some of the architectural details are already starting to degrade.

The Tumauini Church deserves its recognition as a National Cultural Treasure and a National Historical Landmark.

I’m so happy I got to see the Tumauini Church. It’s already one of my favorites.