The Visayan island of Bohol is celebrated for its unspoiled beaches, its big eyed smallest lemur known as the tarsier and the chocolate hills – just to name a few. But this still and tranquil island is a great place to walking tours especially when it comes to old churches.
There are many old and well-preserved churches all over Bohol as this island was not badly damaged during the Second World War and was truly blessed not to have suffered calamities like earthquakes. From the Gothic church of Calape to the church in Dauis with miraculous water from its well - Bohol is one destination to go when it comes to old churches.
The church of Baclayon or the Church of Lady of the Immaculate Conception lies just 6 kilometers from the Bohol’s capital, the city of Tagbilaran. Constructed by Spanish clergy utilizing forced labor among the natives, this old church is made of coral stone with egg whites used to fasten the blocks together- very typical among Spanish colonial churches in the Philippines.
Tiered bell towers and coral stone materials are common in Philippine old churches but Baclayon church somehow differ in some ways- its lavish interiors. Most old churches have archaic and well-preserved facade with the interiors modern or less outstanding. But with this church, its interior is equally inspiring. Its altar have exquisite designs with its ceiling that can leave you in awe.
Second oldest church
Promoted and written in some blogs that this church is the second oldest church is the Philippines next to the Church in Intramuros, it isn’t. Some claim that is was constructed in 1595 but what I remember in my class in Cultural History is that the said claim is based on the founding of the parish of Baclayon by Jesuit priests that came from the neighboring island of Cebu. But its real construction to a stone church started centuries after.
And to be more factual and reliable ( since I only got 2.50 mark from my Cultural History class ), here is the statement from the Heritage Conservation Society regarding this debate:
“Despite claims that the present stone church in Baclayon is the oldest in the Philippines, evidence places the construction of the church to 1727. The belief that the church was built in 1595 may have come because of a 19th century report by the Recollects that the mission was founded in 1595; but the same report lists two other dates 1593 and 1594. The date 1595 inscribed on the church façade is a later addition.”
Nevertheless, Baclayon church is still a heritage church that everyone should be proud of. The date of its construction is not the most important thing but rather its role on the lives of the people of Baclayon through the years.
How to get there
If you are not renting a van that can take you directly to Baclayon, cheaper alternatives are taxis and tricycles.
Taxi fare from Tagbilaran to Baclayon is 200-250 pesos.
If you want tricycle, you can rent if for 100-200 from Tagbilaran to Baclayon.
If you don’t want to rent, take a tricycle to Tagbilaran Provincial Hospital (fare is 10 pesos per pax) then take a jeepney to Baclayon ( 7 pesos per pax).
Photos and details by: Ace Francisco