The Church and Pier of Baclayon

baclayon-churchPhoto by Bernard Andrew Reyes

We were not able to get inside the Baclayon Church because according to a caretaker, it was under renovation or something. From our very informative Kuya Driver, we learned that ‘baclayon’ came from the word baclay, meaning to walk. Known as The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, it was home to the Spanish Jesuit missionaries when they arrived in the Philippines.

The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It is one of the best presevered Jesuit build churches in the region, although in the 19th century, the Augustinian Recollects added a modern facade and a number of stone buildings that now surround the church.

The first Spanish missionaries or doctrineros in the region, Fr. Juan de Torres and Fr. Gabriel Sanchez, first settled in Baclayon in 1595. Shortly after their arrival, a visita was erected on the spot.

Although Baclayon was the first seat of the Spanish Jesuit missionaries, fear of Moro mauraders soon forced them to move their headquarters more inland, to Loboc. Only in 1717, Baclayon became a parish, and construction of a new church commenced. Some 200 native forced laborers constructed the church from coral stones, which they took from the sea, cut into square blocks, and piled on to each other. They used bamboo to move and lift the stones in position, and used the white of a million eggs as to cement them together. The current building was completed in 1727. 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.

Next to the church is the old convent, which also houses a small museum with centuries-old religious relics, artifacts and other antiquities, dating back to the 16th century. Included in the collection are an ivory statue of the crucified Christ looking towards heaven; a statue of the Blessed Virgin, said to be presented by Queen Catherine of Aragon; relics of St. Ignatius of Loyola, old gold embroidered ecclesiastical vestments, books with carabao skin covers, and librettos of church music written in Latin on sheep skins. Here you can also find the cuadro paintings made by the Filipino painter Liberato Gatchalian in 1859.

 From Bohol’s Old Churches.

im0042891The pier from afar

im004290One more lonesome boat

im004292Some green things growing

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