St. John de Baptist, built in 1892 by the Jesuit in San Juan (Cabalian), Southern Leyte is one of the seven stone churches in the Diocese of Maasin included for the Sinugdan Quincentinnial Pilgrim Tour. This stone church features a tunnel connecting to the “kumbento”, and another tunnel that leads to the municipal hall, then to the ocean.
(Photo credit to DOT8)

MAASIN CITY- A tour package will soon be launched in Southern Leyte for the Sinugdan Quincentennial celebration of the First Easter Mass in Limasawa.
An assessment tour was recently held composed of three groups from tour operators, Department of Tourism (DOT), travel agencies and media.
The groups visited the seven stone churches in the diocese of Maasin, activities in the Sogod Bay area, and the tourist destinations in the Pacific coastal towns.
The three tour packages were aimed to cater not only the pilgrims who will visit the province next year but also for tourists who want to do sightseeing and visit to other destinations of the province as they join the quincentennial celebration of the First Easter Mass in Limasawa.
These stone churches are the Immaculate Conception Church and the Punta Chapel, both in Baybay City; the Immaculate Concepcion Church in Hilongos, Leyte; Saint Joseph the Worker Parish in Matalom; the Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral in Maasin City; the Sto. Niño Parish Church of Malitbog in Malitbog; and the St. John the Baptist Church in San Juan, all in Southern Leyte.
In the Sogod Bay area, visited for assessment were Son-ok Point for whale shark interaction and snorkeling; the Molopolo Beach, the Tagbak Marine Park, the La Caridad Farm, and the Tangkaan Beach.
Also assessed were the sperm whale bone display and Silago Eco Adventure Park in Silago town; the Calag-itan Fish Sanctuary and the San Pedro and San Pablo Island, Pungkay Mountain Park in Hinunangan; the Hinundayan Plaza for barbeque fest; the Mainit Hot Spring in Anahawan; and the Guinsaugon Eco Adventure Park.
The tour packages are designed to all end in Limasawa Island where the historic first Catholic Mass in Asia was held on March 30, 1521 when the fleet of Ferdinand Magellan landed on the island.
During the assessment, the group rated each destination on their marketability and readiness for tourist arrivals including giving comments on how to improve the services, including facilities and amenities.
“Our church is not yet ready for this kind of activity, hopefully with your help we can prepare them and make them ready,” Fr. Mark Jeben Diola of the Maasin Diocese said.
The priest also extended his gratitude to the DOT for helping the church in creating the tour package for the Quincentennial which is expected to be flocked by pilgrims and other tourists.