Baclayon Church in Bohol

Baclayon Church is the oldest church in Bohol, dating back to 1596. Its present structure, however, as it stands, started in 1727. The church has been run by Jesuits and Agustinians, with Frs. Sanchez and Torres as the very first parish priests.

The term "baclay" means to walk - as the church is located a short distance from the coast. Its patroness is the Immaculate Conception and it is a coral stone church. Some parts of structure are made up of hard wood - like the molave, narra, kamagong - and not even termites can destroy the wood.

bohol-baclayon-rita (15k image)We were brought around the place by Rita, the curator for the museum located in a portion of the church's structure. Photos are allowed in the church itself, but not in the museum. We got to go to the "tribuna" - which is according to Rita, that portion of the church where important people can pray, with a full view of the altar, without being seen by other people in the church. This was done during the Spanish times.

One of our "co-tourists" reacted negatively to this and said that in prayer, all should be equal. I suppose he took Rita's point too seriously, I wonder how he felt about the Spaniards, the ilustrados, and the indios? In any society, even to this day, we differentiate treatment of people for one reason or the other. Ideally, things should be equal but reality is something else.

The museum was quite interesting. There's a good collection of vestments, other items used for the mass dating back centuries. There are images with heads and hands made of ivory, with some parts of the images stolen - given the value of the ivory.

There was an image of St. Blaise (patron for the throat) which was stolen and returned to the museum 2 years after. It was returned by a buyer, all the way from Metro Manila. There were big hymnals, in Latin - with the cover and the pages made of animal skins and with the ink used taken from plant sap. Rita jokingly said that this was in use before the overhead projector was invented and before photocopying was in vogue.

There's also an image of the Holy Family in the museum which was hit by a cannon ball during the world war. The cannon ball, broke the glass protecting the image, in an almost perfect circle but the image remained unharmed. Story among the Bohol folks has it, that sometimes the image of the Baby Jesus disappears and reappears. When the image returns, the clothes of the Baby Jesus are filled with "amorseko" - a kind of plant that sticks to clothes if you happen to walk near it - implying that Jesus goes around the place and moves among the people of Bohol. It is also said that on the day the image was hit by the cannon ball, folks saw a little boy, pick up the cannon ball and set it aside.

The doors in the museum's structure, by the way, even had passageways for rats and cats.

Going to visit Baclayon Church is like going back in time. It is interesting to see how structures have survived centuries. Baclayon Church was really built to be sturdy as it was also used as a Fort against invading Moros.

bohol-baclayon-tower (14k image)While in Baclayon Church, by the way, we needed to use the bathroom. The bathrooms there are clean - but the floor was wet (at the time we were there) so it was quite slippery. So take care when using the bathroom. My almost 3 year old daughter Ali slipped and she hit part of her head. I didn't think it too bad and was not worried until she threw up in the van a few minutes after. Turns out - it was probably just from the zigzag winding roads on the way to Chocolate Hills. So if travelling with a kid, please be careful when using the toilets there. Try to reduce the "uncertainty" of what's causing possible vomiting on the road. You might have to pass by a hospital in Carmen, just to check. This, though, is another story...but Ali's fine so till the next tour detail!

Up Next: Side Trip to a Hospital in Carmen

[By Angelica Viloria | Wednesday, November 17, 2004]

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