Immaculate Concepcion Church facade
Old churches are fascinating structures. If other countries and cultures have temples or mosques constructed in elegance to glorify their gods, I consider our churches as silent witnesses of our history. A milestone as the time it was constructed and the history it tells on its walls. Their design tells much about their story and the area where they are situated. I became even more intrigued of our historical churches when I got to visit one of the oldest churches in our country, the Immaculate Concepcion Church in Baclayon, Bohol.
One of the oldest stone church in the country
The Baclayon Church is considered as the oldest stone church in the country, but I’m not sure if it is since as I read in some text that San Agustin Church in Manila is the oldest since its foundation was set in 1571 25 years before Baclayons which is in 1596. But most people believe the honor of the oldest should be given to Baclayon since the island was occupied by the country’s first Spanish governor general, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. However recent evidences claim that the actual construction of the church was really on 1727, as the inscribed date of 1595 was actually the date when the church mission started. Historians and heritage experts? What’s the real story behind this?
View the nearby sea and the tower from the museum
Despite the historical discrepancies, I personally think this church is one of the best preserved churches and the most beautiful as well. But its a sad fact to learn as well that more than 200 slaves were forced by the spaniards to build this church. The church was constructed using corals which they took from the nearby sea and cut into blocks piled together. Bamboos were used to position and move these blocks and million of egg whites were used to cement all these together. Amazing construction still. The church obtained its large bell in 1835.
Artful and decorative ceiling of Baclayon Church
As it stands now, I can’t help but be amazed with the old charm of the place. The interior of the church is huge. They are currently working on the ceiling which I think looks great. It’s amazing how they manage to incorporate these new additions without destroying its old feel.
Standing still and strong, these columns stood the test of times
I love the texture of the walls here. You could really see how old this structure is. The colored stained glasses as well adds a radiant touch of varying colors that fills its interiors different times of the day. The tiles as well is something to complement at. I’m not an expert at these forms of styles but it looks really well on a church floor. The church altars is so elegant as well. The corners are well lit and the details just astounding.
Elegant and intricate design of the church Altar
Just besid the church at the back is an old convent which houses a museum at the 2nd floor. If you have time to spare check it out, I think it’s really worth the Php 20 you’ll pay per person. The museum holds artifacts dating back 16th century. The religious relics here are an artwork in itself. Elegant cups, crowns, musicals notes and statues and other religious items can be found here in good condition. Cameras and videos are strictly prohibited here. You will always have a guide when touring the museum.
Side bench, each of these symbols represents the title of a person designated to seat there.
I think the people in charge of Baclayon Church are doing a great job in preserving the place amidst its tourism draw. They even have cultural shows to welcome guest. Their restrooms even paid are really clean and well maintained.
Impressive flooring, adequate lighting and textured walls
I am glad I finally had a chance to visit this old gem of a structure and has become one of my favorite church in our country. Visit Baclayon, one of the must see places when you visit Bohol.
Experience the scenic seaside view of Baclayon church at sundown
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.