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The Baclayon Church, Bohol, Philippines

28 Nov Posted by in Philippines | Comments
The Baclayon Church, Bohol, Philippines
 

The Baclayon Church, hailed as the second oldest Catholic stone church in the Philippines, is not only a religious and historical landmark but also a living reminder of oppression.

The Baclayon Church, Bohol, Philippines

The Baclayon Church, Bohol, Philippines
Image Credits: john valentine ii

The Baclayon Church, hailed as the second oldest Catholic stone church in the Philippines, is not only a religious and historical landmark but also a living reminder of oppression.

In just a few minutes drive from Tagbilaran City, tourists will reach Baclayon, the town said to be the first station of Jesuit Missionaries when they first arrived in the Philippines during the Spanish occupation. As early as 1595, these Spanish preachers called doctrineros established themselves in the area and asked the citizens to erect a Visita to serve as their place of adoration. In fear of the raiding Moros, the Jesuits were later compelled to relocate their headquarters inland to Loboc for sometime.

The raising of the currently standing religious structure began in 1717 when Baclayon was elevated to parish status. Now called the church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, this particular house of worship was completed in the year 1727. History relates that the Spaniards forced around two hundred local workers to construct the edifice. They cut square blocks from the coral stones they laboriously hauled from the sea, lifted and pushed those slabs into place using only bamboo poles. These were piled by the artisans like bricks and cemented them together using millions of egg whites.

Window in the Baclayon Church, Bohol, Philippines

Window in the Baclayon Church, Bohol, Philippines
Image Credits:Kok Leng Yeo

Attached to this stone building is an old convent which now serves as a museum. Among those showcased are centuries’ old relics, including those of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and various antiques and artifacts dating back to 16th century. Also included is an ivory image of the Crucified Jesus Christ looking up to Heaven, a precious statue of the Blessed Virgin which was reported to be presented by Queen Catherine of Aragon, and old ecclesiastical vestments with gold embroidery. Aged and valuable objects of arts and knowledge such as old-fashioned books with covers made from carabao hide, several librettos of church music written in Latin on sheep skins are present as well. Contained in those hymnals is the Misa Baclayana, a melodic setting for the celebration of the Catholic mass. Priceless Cuadro paintings done in 1859 by the late Liberato Gatchalian are also part of the entire collection.

Ironically, this revered sanctuary also features a dungeon where Filipino natives who violate the Roman Catholic Church laws were imprisoned and punished. It is indeed an incongruity that the people who skillfully and painstakingly built something that could be considered an important spiritual heritage would be the same ones who were made victims of their masterpiece.


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