Baclayon Church Bohol is a “must see” attraction for many when in the area. When we were there it was undergoing renovations but still, it retained its charm. Aside from being known for their wonderful chocolate hills and their delicate tarsiers, little did the tourists know that Bohol is also a home for numerous old churches dating back to the Spanish colonization of the island.
Baclayon Church Bohol
The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception or commonly known as the Baclayon Church in Baclayon, Bohol is the second oldest stone church in the Philippines and it firmly stands as a proof to the Boholano’s devotion to their faith. Constructed in 1717 by the native people of Baclayon, it was beautifully crafted from coral stones and was cemented using the white of over one million eggs. The structure is not only the religious capital of Baclayon for the Catholics but as a world heritage site for Boholanos and the Filipinos. The church is listed as one by the United Nations as a cultural importance for the Philippines.
Baclayon Church (also The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary Parish Church) is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, with construction commencing in 1717, the year Baclayon became a parish, and was finally completed in 1727. It was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2010. It is also being considered for addition to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Philippines under the collective group of the Jesuit Churches of the Philippine. However, due to its total destruction, it was removed as a nominated site.
The town it is in (Baclayon) got its name because locals who worked on the church used to say the word Baclayon every time they would talk from their homes to the church.
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Gary and I made sure to drop by Baclayon Church during our trip in Bohol last year. Unfortunately, I don’t have many photos to share because the church is being renovated when we paid our visit. Cameras are allowed (but in limited time) in most places too.
It has always been a tourist attraction even before the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that took place last October 2013. The earthquake damaged the church so badly but it did not stop the tourists from visiting the church, or should I say the ruins.
After the earthquake, the local government made sure to go through everything to bounce back. The experts initially looked at the level of destruction of the structure.
After which, the decision to restore them or replace them with monuments is made. Bohol is not just a home to churches and natural attractions but as well as talented and persevering people.
The church, made from coral stone cut from the sea by a workforce of over 200 laborers, still retains its centuries-old architectural design and is considered the best preserved in the region. The relics of antiquity found in the church, which date back to the early 16th century includes crystal chandelier, brightly colored window panes, life-size religious images, carved altars with gold embossing, and a silver tabernacle.
The nation’s third oldest pipe organ, installed in 1824 and tenderly restored in 2008 by the Ayala Foundation, is also found inside the church. The church obtained a large bell in 1835. In the Baclayon church is a dungeon, which was used to punish natives who violated the rules of the Roman Catholic church.
A visit to the church is not complete without a stopover at the museum; carries a handful of religious artifacts that interestingly showcase the legacy that the Spaniards left on our beloved island. Looking at these artifacts, especially the vestments which are embroidered with gold, we relive the moment when these were worn, oh so elegantly!
Although small in size, the museum carries a handful of religious artifacts that interestingly showcase the legacy that the Spaniards left on our beloved island. An impressive volume of liturgical manuscripts has also been preserved in the museum. The church itself is a fine example of 16th century Jesuit architecture, though an updated facade was added in the 1800s.
Aside from the ecclesiastical vestments, there are other items on display which were used during the ritual of the Mass that dates centuries back such as the hymnals or the cantorial of Baclayon. The hymnals are big and written in Latin. What is of note is that the covers of the hymnals are made of carabao skin, the pages are of sheepskin and the ink used was taken from plant sap.
The museum charges a minimal entrance fee of ₱25 per person to cover maintenance costs. Picture taking is not allowed inside the museum; however, guests can freely take pictures of the church’s interiors. Due to previous thefts of many of its artifacts, the Curia of Baclayon is now cautious in allowing people to take pictures of them.
“But whenever tragedy strikes, one is left either to die or with a plethora of ifs and buts to ponder over.”
Here are some accommodations that you may like and can be found in our blog.
- Henann Resort Alona Beach – Alona Beach Rd, Panglao, Bohol 6340
- J&R Residence Beach Resort – Brgy. Bacong, Sitio Dagohoy, Anda, Bohol 6311
- Alona Beach Resort – Alona Beach Rd, Panglao, Bohol 6340
- Amun Ini Beach Resort and Spa – Bas Dako, Candabong, Anda, Bohol 6311
- Lost Horizon Beach Dive Resort – Alona Beach Rd, Panglao Island, 6340
Baclayon Church is just of our countryside tour. There are other amazing things to do in Bohol. Here are some of the list:
Bohol is located in the Central Philippines and can be conveniently reached by air or boat. From Manila, just take a flight to Tagbilaran, which takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It is also possible to take a boat to Bohol but will take 2.5 hours, and is only advisable if you have plenty of time at hand and enjoy a trip on the sea, or have to travel on a rock-bottom budget or with a lot of luggage. Currently, there are numerous daily flights from Manila to Tagbilaran.
Travel Tip: The wharf in front of Baclayon Church is also the same where you can catch boats that can take you to Pamalican Island (famous for dolphin watching and the Punta Cruz Watchtower, at a cheap price, instead of renting your own boat that can set you back not less than ₱1,000.00)
The Baclayon Church stands at about 7 kilometers east of Tagbilaran City, Bohol Island’s capital city. It is just passed the junction to Panglao Island – the province’s capital of captivating white beaches and shallow waters. The church facing the south shores of Bohol and has been the center of religious activity of the town for centuries.
Many buses, jeepneys, and multicab ply the interior route to and from Tagbilaran City. It is a lot cheaper if you avail of this local transport. However, vans and taxis are also available but usually charges 50% more if traveling outside Tagbilaran City. Catch jeepney or tricycle in Tagbilaran, going in the direction of Baclayon.