Baclayon Church in Bohol, which was built by Jesuits, is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines and one of the best preserved churches in Bohol region. The Baclayon Church is a living witness of the rich Spanish history in the country. The construction of this church took 10 years to finish. Though the first Spanish missionaries came to the country in 1595, the construction of this church started in 1717 and was completed in 1727. Sadly enough, the landmark is a fruit of forced labor when the Filipinos were still under the rule of the Spaniards.
The materials for the construction of this old church consisted of coral stones, which the natives took from the sea, cut into square blocks, and piled on top of each other. The natives utilized bamboos to move and lift the stones in place, and used the white of a million eggs to cement the stones together.
The Baclayon Church has large windows and, interestingly, it has two facades: the interior and the exterior facade. The outer one was only added in the 1800s. The church may look plain and simple on the outside, but its interior is very prolific and extravagant. Inside the church, one can find exquisitely designed carved altars, intricate paintings, expensive tiled floors and tainted glass windows. The pronounced contrast between the facade and the interior of the church is very dramatic and adds to its beauty.
The church has a wide collection of beautiful paintings wherein its latest addition is the elegant work of art with stucco finish. Near the altar is an old pipe organ acquired by the church during the 1800s. Though this pipe organ no longer plays, it still adds to the solemnity of the old church – the effect one feels upon getting inside. The bell, which was acquired in 1835, still tolls in time for mass. Interestingly, the church, which was known to be a dungeon during the time of the Spaniards, still has the old prison used to punish natives or Indios who violated the rules of the Roman Catholic Church.
Located beside the old church is a convent that houses a small museum which displays religious relics and artifacts from the Spanish era. One can find various statues of the Virgin Mary, the saints and Jesus Christ himself displayed inside the museum. Found also in the mini museum are cantorals or music sheets made of sheep skin. The songs inscribed in the music sheets are written in Latin.
Taking pictures of the artifacts and other centuries-old memorabilia inside the museum is clearly prohibited, but the tourists are free to take pictures inside and outside the centuries-old church.
So when travelling to Bohol, do not forget to visit one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, the Baclayon Church, to make your tour a complete package.