Roman Catholic churches in Bohol

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The churches in Bohol are a distinct collection of Roman Catholic churches established during the early Spanish colonial period in the island-province Bohol, in the Philippines.[1] Four of these churches - Baclayon, Loboc, Loon, and Maribojoc - are declared as National Cultural Treasures for its cultural, historical and architectural importance to the Filipino people.[2]

On October 15, 2013, one of the largest earthquakes to hit Bohol struck the island at 8:12 AM.[3] The M7.2 earthquake centered near Sagbayan, Bohol devastated the region severely damaging the centuries-old churches of the province in Baclayon, Dauis, Dimiao, Loay, Loboc, Loon and Maribojoc.[4] Loon Church, reported as the largest in Bohol and one of the oldest, was destroyed and turned into a pile of rubble by the shaking.[5] The Church of Maribojoc was also completely leveled to the ground by the quake with nothing left standing.

The quake also destroyed newer churches made with reinforced concrete. The San Isidro Labrador Church in Tubigon lost its facade and other structures in the church complex.[6] The Saint Michael Parish Church of Clarin, also made with reinforced concrete, collapsed leaving just the bell tower and the front of the church standing.[7] The Inabanga Church also collapsed leaving just the facade and back of the building.[8]


Roman Catholic Church, Alburquerque, Bohol

The Santa Monica Parish Church complex, located along the highway, was built on a low knoll in the town of Alburquerque, nicknamed by the Boholanos as "Albur.". The Albur parish was established in 1869 after being separated from the parish of Baclayon, Bohol. An 1886 report indicated that the church was built of light materials, however, the convent (convento) described as "of great dimension" was already standing.[9] This was made of sont, wood and on the second floor of the convent, tabique (wattle and daub) walls. The date of construction of the church is around 1885, although, the generous use of reinforced concrete for the façade and the bell tower, which is integrated into the façade, indicates that the church was either completed or renovated in the around the 1920s.[1] The church interior has been renovated. The large convent to the side of the church is connected by a bridge to the church. The whole complex is harmonized by a series of arches linking the church, bridge and convent.

Media related to Roman Catholic church and convent, Alburquerque, Bohol at Wikimedia Commons


Anda is located in a peninsula that juts southeast to the Bohol Sea. In this peninsula, prehistoric sites have been discovered, with one intriguing site yielded countless carefully arranged jawbones of pigs. It was probably a ritual site, considered by the National Museum of the Philippines as an important archaeological site. The town was formerly called Quinale. It was renamed Anda in honor of Simón de Anda y Salazar who resisted the British occupation of Manila between 1762–64, becoming governor general in 1769. The town was created in 1876 and the parish, in 1885. The Recollects were in charge of Anda until 1898, and by the special request of the parishioners, returned in 1902 until finally leaving in 1937. The town was burnt by the Americans who are after the revolutionaries during the Filipino-American War, but the church was spared because of the pleas by the parish priest.[10]

The Church of the Holy Infant of Anda faces the beach with a wide-open field in between. An older tabique church, probably the same one reported by Redondo (1886, 183) is said to have stood slightly across the convent (convento). The change in colonial government in 1898 stopped the collection of material for a new church that was began as early as 1886. It was not until 1926 when the church was completed under the direction of Fr. Carlos Ortuoste. The church has a cruciform floor plan with a plain and austere façade enlivened by doors and windows. The interior, however, is a pleasant surprise with the colorful frescoed ceiling by Cebuano painter Ray Francia, the retable with Greco-Roman motif, and the Art Deco confessionals. The adjoining convent was started in the 1880s and completed a decade later.[10]


The parish of Antequera was founded in 1880. The church by this date was of tabique pampango and other light material. The present Nuestra Señora del Rosario Church (Our Lady of the Holy Rosary) of Antequera was started in 1896 under the orders of Father Francisco Vega. He ordered for the construction of the foundation made of sea stones cut into tablets. Construction was halted due to the 1898 revolution and the fall of the Spanish government. It was continued by 1908 and the church building, which was laid on with stone but reinforced with cement direct from Rome, was completed in 1914 and inaugurated in December the same year. It was the first church in Bohol built with the use of cement.

The 1914 neoclassical church still stands with little renovation and some improvements. Traces of the 1896 church foundation is still evident on some unfinished plaster on the lower ends of the church's outer walls. is not of massive stone and smaller compared to the churches of other towns in Bohol. This blue and white-painted church is relatively newer, made largely of tabique pampango and other light materials. A notable feature of the church is its belfry or bell tower which situated on the left hand side of the church, rising way up high towards the sky. The belfry has a decorative dome as roofing with a statue of Jesus, with outstretched arms, at its peak.[11]

In August 2012, the church was repainted from white with blue and gold trims to a bright peach color with white trims.[12]


Roman Catholic Church, Baclayon, Bohol
Old convent-school, Baclayon Church
Baclayon Church Interiors

The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception' in Baclayon is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines founded in 1596. It is one of the best preserved Jesuit-built 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 mission of Baclayon was established by two Jesuit missionaries or doctrineros, Juan de Torres and Gabriel Sanchez, who came from Cebu and arrived in Bohol on November 17, 1596. Torres reported that he could not find a decent place to celebrate Mass, there wasn't even a serviceable table in the dwelling they stayed in. The Jesuit convinced the inhabitants to build a visita (chapel-of-ease), which they accomplished in no time. This was most likely a bamboo and thatch church.[13]

Although Baclayon was the first seat of the Spanish Jesuit missionaries, fear of Moro marauders soon forced them to move their headquarters more inland to Loboc. Baclayon served at one time as the residentia or center of the Bohol missions, where the superior resided. Baclayon was one of two towns that did not join the Diwata revolt (1621), remaining steadfast in the Christian faith.[14]

Baclayon did not become an independent parish until 1717, and the 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 mortar to bind them together. The current building was completed in 1727. The church has a dungeon, which was used to punish natives who violated the rules of the Roman Catholic Church. The church complex was fortified with a wall built by the Jesuits.[13]

When the Jesuits left in 1768 and administration transferred to the Recollects, they inherited a cruciform church, with an extension at the epistle transept that served as living quarters, a base for a belltower, which may have served as a forward fortification, a fort and a smaller bastion by the sea. The first act of the Recollects was to complete the bell tower, which was completed on May 20, 1777 and dedicated to Saint Andrew, the patronal namesake of Father Andres de Santissima Trinidad OAR, who was parish priest from 1775 to 1787.[15] The church obtained a large bell in 1835.[14] A stone inscription on the tower indicated the year "1777" but it was recently defaced.[14]

Next to the church is the old convent. When the Recollects built a new wing for the convent in 1872, they dismantled and used the wall's coral stones as material. The convent is now transformed into the Baclayon 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.[14]

The museum has an impressive amount of liturgical material preserved. The church inventory books have helped in dating some pieces. Among the Baclayon cantorals (large handwritten music books) was found the Misa Baclayana, a musical setting for the Mass which has been revived and is part of the repertoire of the Loboc Children's choir. Permission from the parish is needed to see the museum, which is generally locked for security reasons.

The church has two facades - an inner one that is classical in inspiration, and an outer one built in the 19th century by the Recollects as a portico decorated by three arches. The addition of porticoes to the façade seems to have been a style prevalent in Bohol and Cebu during the 19th century. Porticoes are found in Loay, Loboc and Cortes churches in Bohol.[13]

The green and gilded altars are the focal point of the interior. They are exuberant versions of Baroque popular during the 18th century. Although the main retable displays saints of Recollect devotion, the retable itself traces to the Jesuits whose emblem and motto "Ad majorem Dei gloriam" (To the greater glory of God) surmounts the main altar. In the nave are found two benches carved in low relief. One features genre scenes - a goat tied to a tree, a coconut, nipa grove, and a man in stocks. A painting of the Ascension of Jesus, Church Fathers and Saint Vincent Ferrer are found in the nave. These date to the 19th century.[13]

The church has a pipe organ installed in 1824 that was in disrepair and unplayable for a long time. It was restored in 2008.[16][17] The choir and organ loft are decorated with cut out designs. The painting on the stucco finish of the church is of recent vintage (1996) and does not conform to the style and period of the interior.[13]

Behind the church and convent are remnants of a fortification. Oral lore identifies some structures as horse stables, a kitchen, and a jail.[13]

The belltower was damaged and the front facade of the church collapsed during the earthquake of October 15, 2013. Baclayon is about 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) east of Tagbilaran City.

Media related to Church of Baclayon on Bohol at Wikimedia Commons


Roman Catholic Church, Balilihan, Bohol

The town and parish of Balilihan were separated from Baclayon and established in 1829, to make room for Dagohoy’s followers after the revolt, which lasted eight decades, put to end by a massive assault by Spanish troops from Cebu.

An earlier church and convent were built on the opposite bank where the present church is located. Some stones were found in that area, which could have belonged to these religious structures that were damaged by a typhoon in 1863. Right after, a church and convent of tabique and nipa had been built, but this time it was on the present site of Balilihan Church. The destruction in 1863 may have prompted the transfer. The structures were renovated in 1889. Tragically, during the Philippine-American War, the Americans razed the town in November 1900 to the dismay of the populace, who welcomed the American troops complete with a brass band. A church, made with reinforced concrete, was subsequently built in the early decades of the 20th century.[18]

The present Parish Church of Balilihan dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, was probably completed sometime in the early 20th century. It has a central nave, flanked by two aisles. In front of the church is the portico with the central bell placed in front. The cruciform church has a squat octagonal cupola. The ceiling is embellished with frescoes painted by Ray Francia. The altars have combined Corinthian columns, neogothic spires and crockets, Baroque volutes and Art Deco open work. A veritable summary of 200 years of style.[19]

Balilihan Watchtower[edit]

On Our Lady of Mount Carmel Hill overlooking the plaza, is a much older structure. Built in 1836 and completed and inaugurated in 1846. The materials of cut coral used for this monument were taken by the locals from the nearby coastal area of Baclayon.[20] The Balilihan bell tower functions both as a watchtower and as a bell tower standing at a strategic position, which made it a useful sentinel for the Abatan River. The tower located about 20 km (12 mi) upstream also serves a watchtower against marauding bands.

Rising to four stories with no clear divisions between floors, the quadrilateral bell tower used to be sheathed with cut coral. Its windows are few concentrated mostly on the uppermost floor, where the arched opening are decorated by scroll work and floral designs. The whole structure has a hip roof with wide overhangs, supported by carved corbels. The structure had a tile roof but like the rest of the tower is in disrepair. The bells of the tower have been removed and are in a bell tower of the parish church at the foot of the hill.


Roman Catholic Church, Calape, Bohol

The town of Calape is named after a type of rattan, called locally kapi or kalapi. Both town and parish dedicated to Saint Vincent Ferrer were founded in 1802. However, the settlement was already being served by priests from neighboring town of Loon before this date. In 1829, remnants of Dagohoy’s followers, some 1500 were coxed to settle in the area. The Recollects took charge of the parish until 1898 when it was turned over to the seculars. An old tabique and wooden church was replaced by the present church in the neogothic style that was commenced in 1933 and completed two decades later in 1954.[21]

The Saint Vincent Ferrer Church of Calape is described as the “epitome of Bohol Gothic.” All of the structure is basically a lintel and post type, gothic architecture features include lancet arches, rose window, spires and crockets. The pediment has a rose window as an ornament. A typical Bohol feature is the portico built in front of the façade, an extension of the choir loft. Gothic elements are found in the interior on the altars and even the confessionals. The transept is an addition to the original plan. The church is attributed to two builders, Eliseo Josol y Villamayor and Rosalio Real y Oppus, who were said to have been shown a picture of the old Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros, which they used as a model.[21]

A historic bell, dated 1690 and dedicated to St. John the Baptist by Juan Alfonso Ruiz, is found in the bell tower. This bell came from the defunct Parian parish in Cebu, ordered dissolved, resulting in the demolition of the church in 1878-79.[21]


Roman Catholic Church, Candijay, Bohol

The Municipality of Candijay was established in 1879 together with its establishment as a separate parish under the Recollects.[22] They left in 1898 because of the change of government, but returned at the request of the town and stayed till 1937.[1]

The parish was put under the patronage of Saint Joseph whose feast day is May 19.[22] The present Candijay Church is Neo Gothic in style as evident by its tower and windows. The church is made with concrete.[1] The church recently added a portico in front.[22]


Clarin Church
Remnants of the church

Originally named Can-ogong, Clarin was established as a parish in honor of St. Michael the Archangel in 1924, after being a visita (chapel-of-ease) of Inabanga in 1852, and of Tubigon in 1881. Clarin was established a town in 1921 and named after Aniceto Clarin, Bohol’s first civil governor. The Recollects administered the parish from 1927–37 and were succeeded by the seculars. The church traces to the 1920s when Recollects built over a provisional church raised in 1924. In 1952, the roof and walls were raised and in 1955 another register was added to the bell tower. This was damaged in an earthquake of 1996 and had to be torn down and replaced with a more stable structure.[23]

The church made of poured concrete continues the neogothic style prevalent in Bohol with a central tower in front of the façade, which serves both a bell tower and portico. Lancet windows, finials, and other Gothic motifs are expressed in cement.[23]

During the 2013 Bohol earthquake, the Church of Clarin again collapsed leaving just the recently built bell tower and facade.[7]


Roman Catholic Church, Corella, Bohol

The municipality of Corella was established in the year 1884 and was named after the town of Corella in the province of Navarre, in Northern Spain. The parish of Corella was established by the Recollects led by Fr. Jose Cabanas. Its first parish priest, Fr. Felix Guillen, started the construction of a stone church in 1884. The church was dedicated to the Nuestra Señora Del Villar (Our Lady of Villar), who is also the patron saint of Corella, Spain.[note 1] The church was completed in 1886 under Fr. Nemesio Llorente.[25] The convent and two stone school buildings were constructed under the direction of successive priests. The feast day of the Nuestra Señora Del Villar of Corella, Bohol is celebrated every 27 April, while in Corella, Spain, it is 15 days after Eater.[26] The people of Corella are predominantly conservative Roman Catholic.[27]

Through the years the church became dilapidated and a new church was constructed in the year 1924 with the help of all parishioners. Much of the religious activity of the town’s folks revolved around their church.[27]


Roman Catholic Church, Cortes, Bohol

Known by the ancient name Malabago, Cortes was already being served by priests from Maribojoc. Established as an independent parish in 1793 or 94, it was renamed Paminguitan. The town was established later, probably in 1862. The town was renamed after the Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes. The parish was dedicated to the Santo Niño (Holy Child). Although the Recollects who served the parish from its inception until 1898 had begun to build a church in 1880, the bell tower's upper levels were not completed until the 20th century. The thinner upper two levels made with reinforced concrete are narrower in contrast to the thicker stone bottom level.[28]

Perched on the slope of a low hill, the town of Cortes gives its church a dramatic setting. The building is of cut coral stones. Its ground floor plan is cruciform that has an octagonal tower at the crossing. Floral carving frame the doorway, and a light pink plaster is still evident on some parts of the façade suggesting it was more colorful in the past. The interior is dominated by the painted ceiling done by Ray Francia. The main retable has twisted Solomonic columns and profusely carved flanges in the Baroque idiom, a contrast to the otherwise revivalist line of the church. Like most Bohol churches, the Cortes church has a portico in front of an older façade.[28]

The Church of the Holy Child of Cortes was damaged during the 2013 Bohol earthquake; the facade of the Church collapsed.[29]

Dauis Church[edit]

Roman Catholic Church, Dauis, Bohol

Another beautiful church in Bohol is the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Dauis, Bohol, on the Island of Panglao. It is located not far from the bridge that connects Panglao with Bohol. The church was founded by the Jesuits Fr. Diego de Ayala and Joseph Gregorio.

The basilica-style church is built in a mixture of styles, influenced by both Byzantine and Romanesque architecture. Inside, the ceiling have some impressive frescoes painted by Ray Francia in 1916. The ceiling over the central nave and aisles are coffered woodwork and not tromp l'oeil. Lito Arraya renovated the building in 1970. The church's patron saint, Our Lady of the Assumption, is enshrined at the church apse, protected by a ciborium-like canopy. She is said to possess miraculous powers. An old legend relates that once the town was invaded by pirates, the people of Dauis locked themselves into the church. However, they soon ran out of provisions and water. Then a miracle occurred - a well appeared at the foot of the altar. This same well is still the main source of water for the people living close to the church, and although the well is only a few meters from the sea, the water is absolutely fresh. The water is said to have healing powers.

This is one of Bohol’s beautiful churches, which has retained its Spanish architecture although it has a semi-modern façade. The church is a nice three kilometer walk from Tagbilaran City. Alternatively, visitors may reach the place by tricycle or jeepney.

The facade and portico of the Dauis Church collapsed during the 2013 Bohol earthquake.[30]

Media related to Dauis Church at Wikimedia Commons


Roman Catholic Church, Dimiao, Bohol

The San Nicolas Tolentino Church (Saint Nicholas of Tolentino Church) is the parish church of Dimiao, Bohol. The date of the parish's foundation is uncertain, although by 1750 there are records of baptism in the parish. The church may have been built toward the later half of the 19th century. The structure of cut stone is cruciform, though its transept is short. The façade can be described as Neobaroque. Although classical overall, shallow reliefs of flowers arranged as vertical bands decorate the façade. The façade is flanked by twin octagonal towers.

The church interior is simple, coming to a focus at the Neoclassical altars. One of the side altars is missing. The convent is located behind the church and is now a school. Beside the church are the ruins of what appears to be cemetery and two mortuary chapels. Archaeological excavations in the area have uncovered very little remains, probably the site was never used.

Following the Bohol quake of 2013, the church received heavy cracks, displacing the ceiling of the church with a possibility of collapsing. The walls of both the left and right wings of the transept cracked open, and large portions of the outer stone finishes in various areas of the church exterior fell down during the earthquake.[31] As of early 2014, the structure is still left standing unsafe and untouched by the local residents, only priests and authorities of the church convent are allowed to enter the severely damaged church. The daily and Sunday masses are temporarily held at the Dimiao Plaza gym.


Roman Catholic Church, Duero, Bohol

Named after a mighty river that traverses northern Spain and Portugal, Duero was created a town in 1862, from barrios of Guindulman and Jagna. It became a separate parish in 1863 under the patronage of Saint Filomena, however, its present patron is Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The Recollects administered the parish until 1898, returning in 1902 and finally leaving in 1937. Construction of the church began under the first Recollect pastor Fr. Lorenzo Hernandez (1863–70) who collected the wood necessary for construction. The church was completed in 1874 and the convent around the same era during the term of Fr. Francisco Castellano (1871–86). The church’s cogon roof was replaced with zinc sheets in the late 19th century. The church and adjoining convent were the only structures saved from destruction when American troops set the town on fire in October 1901.[32]

Designed in the Greek revival style, the Church of Duero is one of the few churches in such style (Anda, Dumaguete, and Malabon designed by Luciano Oliver in 1861 among them). But what sets Duero apart is the generous use of wood. Indeed, it is one of the few surviving “gems of Philippine architecture in wood” (Jose 2001, 50). Although Fray Isidoro Musitu (1891–97) had the mortar covered with cement, the tabique walls enclosed in zinc sheets and the interior embellished, much of the original structure still exists. Originally, the walls were made of double walls of wood planks, with planks set vertically in the inner wall and horizontally in the outer.[32]

The bell tower is a separate structure joined by a bridge to the choir loft. Like the church, it has a lower story of mortar and an upper story of wood and zinc sheets. The 1920s zinc sheets inscribed with “Wolverhampton” are still in place. The interior is a symphony in wood - wooden floors, wooden ceiling originally painted with an artesonado design (coffered ceiling) with alternating rosettes and concentric circles. At the crossing, the ceiling is a shallow cupola with a carved pineapple dangling from its center from where a chandelier hangs. The wooden retable are in neoclassical style.[32]

Garcia Hernandez[edit]

Roman Catholic Church, Garcia Hernandez, Bohol

Originally known as Sinugbuan because it was populated by Cebuanos, the town was established a visita of Jagna in 1841 and in 1844 a chapel-of-ease was built. Jagna, the mother parish, had a retablo and a painting of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint installed in 1848. In 1857, a more substantial church was built, and in 1858 the town was established and a year later the parish. During this time the town was renamed to honor two Recollect priests who were instrumental in securing the necessary authorization for this development: Fr. Jose Garcia of Loon and Fr. Narciso Hernandez of Guindulman. In 1870, the town site was transferred to the neighboring barrio Manaba, and the former site came to be known as Lungsod-daan. The Recollects remained until 1898. The Americans burned the town in 1901 during the Filipino-American War.[33]

A heritage site, the present Church of St. John the Baptist was commenced in 1880 and completed in 1896, replacing an earlier church. However, an earthquake in 1990 damaged the façade. The rebuilt façade is in a completely new style unsympathetic to the older church. The interior has a Grecian feel with a central nave flanked by side aisles. A Doric frieze runs across the church. The device of the frieze and fluted columns are used in the major retable (retablo).[33]


Roman Catholic Church, Guindulman, Bohol

Guindulman, located on the banks of the Tabajan River, was organized as a town to receive the returning bands of Dagohoy’s followers who had fled to the mountains after his revolt. The Recollects inaugurated the parish in 1798 and dedicated church to the Nuestra Señora de la Consolacion (Our Lady of Consolation). They remained there till 1898, returning in the early 20th century to remain until 1937. The town was razed by the Americans during the Filipino-American War and by the Japanese during World War II, but the church and convent were spared.

Fr. Antonio Fernandez, the first Recollect parish priest (1798–1807) built the first church but it was burnt during a raid by Dagohoy’s followers in 1829. A new church was built in its place and is mentioned in Redondo (1886, 184) as of modern construction. This neoclassical church survived to the 20th century but now stands in ruin behind the present church. Another church was begun in 1881, a decade after a new convent was completed (1877). The church took more than half a century to finish, culminating in 1950.

The present church is of mixed material, the lower register of coral stone and the upper of concrete, reflecting the long time it took to complete. A portico was built in front of the façade and supports a balcony. The church interior is relatively bare, with ornaments from the 1950s and 60s. The 1877 convent beside the church is separated by a road and is now used as a school.


Roman Catholic Church, Inabanga, Bohol

Located on an elevated area beside the banks of the Inabanga River, a mission was founded in the place by the Jesuits in 1596. Like Talibon, it was administered during Jesuit times from the Colegio de San Ildefonso in Cebu. The parish was founded in 1722 dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle (San Pablo Apostol). It was passed on to the Recollects in 1768, remaining its pastors until 1898.[34]

The church is ideally situated on an elevated area, the highest point in town. Stone embankments protect the site. An earlier church of stone was built during Jesuit times but it was burnt probably during the Dagohoy revolt. Redondo (1886, 181) reports that the church was in bad condition and so was the adjoining convento. A new stone church was completed in 1899 but this was burnt by Americans in 1902 in retaliation for the attack on the garrison at Tubigon. The present church is composed of various materials, the last being concrete, introduced by the secular priest Fr. Quiterio Sarigumba in 1931. The church uses gothic elements in the façade and has a portico in front of the entrance. The interior is modern, except for an exquisite wooden tabernacle probably from Jesuit times and the murals of the Garces brothers, done in the style of Canuto Avila and Ray Francia.[34]

The Church of Inabanga was reduced to piles of rubble during the earthquake of October 15, 2013 with only the facade standing. The roof was recently renovated with funding from China. The church's galvanized iron roofing material was replaced with the heavier tile roofing, which is not practical in the earthquake-prone country. The townsfolk blamed the new tile roof for the collapsed of the Inabanga Church.[8]


Roman Catholic Church, Jagna, Bohol

The Saint Michael Archangel Church and convent of Jagna was first built under the term of Jesuit priest, José Sanchez (Josef Zanzini [1616-92]), after the parish was established in 1631. Fr. Sanchez was an Austrian who arrived in the Philippines in 1643 and was assigned to the Visayas where he worked in Bohol and Leyte. He became vice-provincial for the Visayas. He was a well-known builder and is reported by Jesuit historian Pedro Murillo Velarde to be responsible for building the churches in Loboc, Dauis and Maribojoc. He embellished the churches with gilded retable (retablo) and for Jagna, he built a three-story structure in honor of St. Michael. Unfortunately, the church at Jagna (probably the one built by Sanchez) was destroyed by an 1808 fire, which also damaged the parish records. By 1886, Redondo documents a rubble church 125 varas (yards) long, 25 wide and 16 tall until the moldings. He notes that the church had a nipa roof. Adjacent to the church was the convent, which was built of rubble with a metal roof. Both church and convent must have been built by the Recollects who assumed administration of Bohol with the departure of the Jesuits in 1768.[35]

Jagna was a convenient take off point for Camiguin Island, in colonial times the gateway to northern Mindanao. Ships coming from the north would island hop, stopping by Jagna on the way to Mindanao. On a clear day the volcanoes of Camiguin can be clearly seen.[35]

The present Church of Jagna have been greatly renovated. After suffering damages from a typhoon in the 1980s, its façade was heavily plastered with cement. The façade is embellished with a pointed arch reminiscent of Gothic. The church interior was also renovated.[35]


Roman Catholic Church, Getafe, Bohol

Originally named Ambacon, Jetafe is near Pangpang, a lair of Dagohoy’s followers. Named after Getafe (Boholanos use “J”), a town near Madrid, it was a barrio of Inabanga until 1835 when it was constituted as a town. It became a separate parish in 1876, under the patronage of the Santo Niño (Holy Child), and was under the Recollects until 1898. The first Church of the Holy Child was constructed in 1883; it was made of tabique walls on a mortar base. It had a stone pavement for the nave and a wooden floor for the sanctuary. A church of reinforced concrete replaced this earlier church in 1926.[36]

The Jetafe Church façade resembles that of Balilihan, where a central tower houses the bells on the upper story and the lower story forms a portico before the main entrance. It resembles early Florentine Renaissance churches. The church follows the basilica plan with a central nave flanked by two aisles.[36]


Roman Catholic Church, Lila, Bohol

The visita (chapel-of-ease) of Lila, Bohol was under Dimiao, Bohol until it became an independent parish. Originally located at Macahugan where a church and convento had been built, the town was transferred to its present site in 1871. The church constructed, named in honor of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, was made of tabique and wood. It was destroyed when American troops burnt Lila to the ground in 1901 during the Filipino-American War. The town was re-established in 1915.[37]

A heritage site, the present Lila church was built during the term of Fr. Francisco Maglasang (1918–36). It is made of reinforced concrete and completed in 1925. Typical of Bohol churches, it has a portico, which is flanked by bell towers. The interior is divided by colonnades into a central nave with flanking aisles. The altars, inspired by neoclassic lines, and the frescoed high ceilings probably by Ray Francia, demonstrate the persistence of the colonial idiom into the 20th century. A number of old stone bridges along the provincial road traversing the streams can be found in Jagna.[37]


Roman Catholic Church, Loay, Bohol

In 1795, the parish of Loay was separated from Loboc to which it belonged as a visita (chapel-of-ease). Other authorities give 1815 as the foundation date. The Santissima Trinidad Church (Most Holy Trinity Church) is built on a plateau facing the sea and near the mouth of the Loboc River. A flight of stairs connects the church complex to the rest of the town located below the hill. The vehicular entrance to the complex is via the road to Loboc.

The church with a cruciform ground plan has two facades: the older is decorated with low relief and the newer with a neoclassical facade was apparently completed in the 20th century as its upper register is in reinforced concrete. The whole is surmounted by cement statues depicting the virtues. The bell tower is a separate structure built at a short distance from the church. Like many Bohol churches the interior is painted with trompe l'oeil and with Biblical scenes. The altars are in the Neoclassical style.

The Church of Loay was severely damaged after the 2013 Bohol earthquake; its facade collapsed and the roof cave in.[38]


Roman Catholic Church, Loboc, Bohol

The Church of San Pedro (Saint Peter) in Loboc, Bohol is the second oldest church established in Bohol. It was originally built in 1602, but was soon reduced to ashes. In 1638, a stronger replacement was built. Located near the river, it has survived a number of floods. Inside the church, there are some remarkable frescoes on the ceiling. A Spanish coat-of-arms can be found in the stone wall near the entrance of the convent. The bell tower of Loboc is about 100 m (330 ft) across the street from the church. Attached to the building is a three storey convent, which today houses the Museo de Loboc (Loboc Museum) on the third floor. This museum houses a few old statues of saints, and some other antique religious artifacts. In Loboc, you can also admire a shameful witness of wasteful government planning. Exactly next to the church is a partly finished bridge across the river. The bridge was never finished as it involves the removal of the Church to be completed.

In 1596, the Jesuit Gabriel Sanchez gathered together 12 separate settlements to form one town in the interior of Bohol at a site where villagers from the mountains met to trade with those from the coast. Sanchez convinced the villagers to build a church of wood and thatch and to win their goodwill gave them trinkets, needles, beads and other small gifts he had brought. In 1602, Loboc was apparently constituted as a pueblo. During the early 17th century, Loboc became well known as a pilgrimage site, because the saintly priest Alonso de Humanes was buried in the church. A stone church was built ca. 1632 but was damaged by fire. A newer and bigger church was completed in 1734. It was apparently in the process of being decorated with carvings when the Jesuits were expelled from the Philippines. Loboc became the residentia or center of the Jesuit missions because it was deemed safer from slave raids than the coastal towns of Baclayon and Dauis where at one time the residentia was located.

The Recollects succeeded Jesuits in their ministry to Loboc in 1768. Fr. Aquilino Bon built a hexagonal bell tower located at a distance from the church. He added a portico and in effect covered the Baroque façade of the Jesuit church. The Recollects installed a pipe organ in the church in the 1820s. Parts of the L-shaped convent behind the church may trace to the Jesuits, although an 1886 document credits them with building the convento which is described as "of much strength and capacity." The convent is unusual for being three stories rather than two as is more common.

The Loboc church is decorated with carvings of cherubs, the Papal tiara and emblems of the Jesuit. It has two facades: the Jesuit-built Baroque façade decorated with unfinished medallions depicting saints and the Neoclassical portico added by the Recollects. Although main altar is Neoclassical, two side altars are Baroque and two at the transept ends are put together from several parts, creating a syncretic style. Many of the saints of Jesuit devotion have been replaced by saints of Recollect devotion except for the image of Saint Francis Xavier found at the side altar to the right of the main altar. Also, hidden by the main altar, is a bas relief of Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier done in stucco.

The sacristy behind the main altar is also decorated with relief. A greatly deteriorated bas relief over the door show a scene with a number of undiscernible persons: probably Jesus and the apostles or Jesus with Jesuit saints. Part of a retable, whose pediment is embellished with Veronica's Veil and a crucifix, decorate the interior. Stone stairs lead to upper story, which the Jesuits probably used as a residence.

The rear wall of the church, just outside the sacristy entrance displays a relief of Saint Ignatius flanked by women with feather headdress, a motif found in Latin American colonial art.

The convent built behind the church, though needing much conservation, has a number of pleasing features, namely, a large sala with decorated walls and a stamped tin ceiling, a dining hall with a large armoire and a connecting hall whose covered balcony is decorated with colored glass panes and a gilded ceiling. Loboc has a small museum on the third floor. On the way to the museum are gargoyle heads one painted a deep blue.

The facade-portico of the Loboc Church collapsed during the earthquake of October 15, 2013. Its freestanding church tower also collapsed leaving only less than half of the tower standing. Loboc is 21 km (13 mi) east of Tagbilaran.

Media related to San Pedro Church, Loboc at Wikimedia Commons


Roman Catholic Church, Loon, Bohol
Interior of Loon Church, Bohol
Ruins of the Loon church

The Church of Our Lady of Light (Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish) is the parish church of Loon, Bohol. The last church building built between 1855-1864 was the biggest church in Bohol before it was completely destroyed by the earthquake of October 15, 2013.

The parish of Loon was established by the Jesuits in 1753 under the curacy of Fray Manuel de Elizalde. The Jesuits built the first church along the shore in Barangay Napo. The Augustinian Recollects took charge of the town in 1768 following the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Spanish Empire. The first Recollects in Loon described the Jesuit-built church as a shed of wooden posts with a roof of nipa, in bad condition; the convent was not much better.[39] They transferred the town center and church to its present location on a plateau about fifty meters or more above the shore level. A four-flight stairway of 174 stone steps built by the Recollects connects it to Napo, the former seat of the town; a watchtower near the topmost landing serves as lookout tower for pirates. The Recollects built a church c. 1812 that burned down in the 1850s leaving just the front of the church.[40] They began rebuilding the church in 1855.[40] Wood to build the church was carried from the forest of Maitum by forced laborers, who had to beat their way through uncharted trails and across rivers.[14]

What was one of the most beautiful of the 19th-century churches in Bohol was designed by Domingo Escondrillas, a government engineer. The church, made of finely cut coral, was completed in 1864. The structure was a basilica-style of one central nave with two aisles on the side, separated from the central nave by stout pillars of cut coral.

The building had two octagonal bell towers, and was fully symmetric. The central portion of the church facade surges forward giving it a dynamism more akin to Baroque than the Neoclassical style prevalent during this period. Delicately though inaccurately carved acanthus decorate the capitals of the twined columns of the facade. Between the twined columns are plaques incised with Biblical texts and dedicatory phrases. The facade's balanced composition is completed by twin towers that flank it.

The church's main altar filled the whole breadth of the sanctuary. Relief roundels portraying the life of the Virgin Mary flanked the main niche where an image of the patroness was displayed. Devotion to the Virgin under the title Our Lady of Light or Kasilak in Visayan traces to 18th century Palermo where the Virgin Mary appeared before a devout visionary.[41] The church of Cainta in Rizal province serves as its counterpart on the north when it was founded in 1760. The convent, built at the same time as the church, was converted into a school.

Loon is some 27.5 km (17.1 mi) north-west of Tagbilaran City, along the route to Tubigon. Visitors can catch a bus to Tubigon from the Integrated Bus Terminal and ask the driver to let them out in Loon.

Media related to Loon Church at Wikimedia Commons

Maribojoc Church[edit]

Roman Catholic Church, Maribojoc, Bohol

The parish of Maribojoc, Bohol was founded in 1768, and construction of a church started 1798 and lasted 18 years. The Santa Cruz Parish Church (Church of the Holy Cross) is located in the poblacion of Maribojoc 14 km (8.7 mi) from the Tagbilaran. The place can be reached by bus of jeepney.

Maribojoc began as a Jesuit mission in the 18th century. The Jesuits built a temporary church, which the Recollects replaced with the present structure by 1886.

Unlike other churches, the convent of Maribojoc is located behind the church rather than at its side. This gives the convent an unobstructed view of the sea, especially from the balcony that runs the length of the structure. It is approached through the sacristy and is a continuation of the convent. Above the sacristy is a room which has been converted to the Maribojoc museum.

The church had a cruciform ground plan. Its façade was plain, decorated by thin pilasters and niches with images of saints. The interior had three Neogothic altars. The traceries and finials of gilded hardwood are delicately carved. The main altar has an image of the Blessed Trinity and bas-reliefs of the life of Mary Magdalene. The church ceiling is made of metal and painted with catechetical and liturgical motifs

The 1886 Maribojoc Church crumbled to the ground entirely during the 2013 Bohol earthquake.

Media related to Maribojoc Church at Wikimedia Commons

Panglao Church[edit]

Roman Catholic Church, Panglao, Bohol

The Saint Augustine Church of Panglao, Bohol is located on the south-western side of Panglao Island, 18 km (11 mi) from Tagbilaran City, the capital of the province. The church is noteworthy because of its twin antique confessionals carved with grape and dove patterns.[42] The church is also known for its ceiling murals depicting the sacraments. Above the main altar is a hexagonal dome, its ceiling filled with a mural of the Holy Trinity surrounded by eight divisions of angels.[42][43]

Panglao, Bohol, was established as an independent parish in 1782, but Recollect records show that they took charge of the town in 1803. The present church stands beside the ruins of an older church, probably one built by the Jesuits before their expulsion in 1768. Whatever remains of the older façade indicate that it may have been Baroque in design. This church was ruined before in 1886, when it is reported that a provisional church of wood and tabique]] was constructed.[42]

Recollect Fr. Valentin Utande started building the present Panglao Church in 1894 up to 1897 when he was transferred to another parish. Two other Spanish priests, Rev. Fr. Eugenio Gil and Rev. Fr. Pedro Jimenez continued the construction slowly until 1898 when the Philippine revolution against Spanish authority broke out. The construction was abandoned as the Spanish priests assigned in Panglao have left.

In 1912, Rev. Fr. Emiliano Veloso, the assigned parish priest, continued the construction with the cooperation of the church leaders, town officials, and residents of Panglao. A greater part of the nave was done in 1920 and by 1924, though still unfinished, a 4-day inauguration affair was scheduled with the Bishop of Cebú, Juan B. Gorordo celebrating the inaugural mass and consecration on Sunday, August 31, 1924.

The neoclassical façade of the church has the typical portico with Corinthian columns. The portico and bell tower, both added later, blend well with the original character of the church. A choir loft is found above the main entrance. The church in cruciform plan has had extensions to accommodate the growing parishioners.

There are three richly carved retables in the altar, one at the central nave and two at each arm of the transept. The main retable facing the nave has the icon of the patron saint, St. Augustine, occupying the upper center niche. Beneath this, to the left, is the niche for St. Joseph and to the right, the Blessed Virgin Mary.[42]

Panglao Watchtower[edit]

To the rear of the ruins and at some distance, stands a five-story bell tower/watch tower built in 1851. Octagonal in plan and covered by pitched roof, the tower is one of the tallest of its kind in the country. The tower is in bad state and needs immediate intervention for its conservation.[42]

Media related to Panglao Church at Wikimedia Commons

Tagbilaran City[edit]

Roman Catholic Church, Tagbilaran City
Tagbilaran Cathedral Interiors

The present Cathedral of San José in Tagbilaran City traces its beginning to a church built by Fr. Valero de San Pascual, OAR (1839–55), the bell tower to Fr. Jose Sanchez, OAR (1884–88). The church was improved by Fr. Escolastico Enciso from 1888-94. It replaced a smaller church built by the Jesuits which burnt on December 23, 1798. The convent was built by Fr. Lucas Corominas in 1872.

Tagbilaran started as visita of Baclayon becoming an independent parish in 1767. Then under the Jesuits, administration transferred to the Recollects the following year when the Jesuits were expelled from the Philippines.

Both exterior and interior of the church have been greatly renovated, the façade has been given a Neoromanesque look, and the lateral walls have been opened to accommodate a growing population. Boholanos are very religious and one of the highest percentage of church attendance is recorded in Bohol. Churches are always full. Part of recent renovation involved building a Blessed Sacrament chapel which is open 24 hours a day. This devotion has spurred the construction of other chapels in different parishes. Some are attached to the walls of historic structures, others are built in former baptisteries. Others are independent structures apart from the church.

Despite frequent renovations, some historic pieces still remain. Apparently, side altars from an older church were saved, because the two remaining in the church are in the 18th century Baroque style. The central altar, decorated with symbols from the Old Testament is in the 19th century Neoclassical style. The statue of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of the church is apparently of 18th century vintage. The church has a good collection of ancient church documents, including a fragment of an 18th-century Visayan dictionary. During the earthquake of 2013, the church was slightly damaged.

Media related to Tagbilaran Cathedral at Wikimedia Commons


Roman Catholic Church, Talibon, Bohol

Christianization of Talibon started long before the arrival of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565. Following the escape of the remainder of Magellan's men from a massacre by the people of Rajah Humabon on May 1, 1521, they sailed to Bohol where some of Magellan's men from the ship Trinidad (Trinity) remained in Bohol before it sailed off. They took native wives and started to evangelize the place dedicating it to the Most Holy Trinity in honor of the patron of the fateful ship.[44]

In 1596, Jesuits Fr. Gabriel Sanchez and Fr. Juan Torres went to the gold-mining town of Talibon after they had organized the reducciones of Loboc and Baclayon. Upon their arrival, they were very much welcomed by the Spaniards and the first Christians of Bohol catechized by the Spanish lay missionaries, the escapees of the 1521 massacre in Cebu. Fr. Torres was surprised and happy to discover that right in the mountain ranges and slopes of Talibon, where the Boholano Christians lived and prayed together, a church was already built by the natives themselves.[44]

The Jesuits first administered the mission from Loboc but because of the distance it took traveling along the coast, decided that it and Inabanga were more conveniently administered from the Colegio de San Ildefonso in Cebu. Recollect historian Cavada claims that the parish was founded in 1722 under the patronage of the Blessed Trinity. Fr. Ramon de Santa Ana became its first parish priest. Talibon remained attached to Inabanga until 1831.

Construction of the present Church of the Most Holy Trinity began in 1852 with the gathering of coral rocks hauled by the inhabitants from the sea. A document in the National Archives dated 1858 request for authorization to build the church and with it is attached the plans drawn by Domingo Escondrillas, director-inspector of public works in Cebu. He was responsible for a number of churches in Cebu and Bohol, Loon Church being his best-known work. The Church of Talibon was completed in 1899 using forced labor.[44]

The church as built hews closely to the Escondrillas’ plan. However, the architect’s sedate plan for the façade’s was overtaken by a virtuoso display of the stone carver's art. Columns are sheathed in garlands of leaves. The façade’s rich ornamentation is not carried, though, into the plain interior of the church. The church has a cruciform ground plan with a cupola at the crossing.

The Diocese of Talibon was erected on January 9, 1986 elevating the Church of the Most Holy Trinity into the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity.


Roman Catholic Church, Tubigon, Bohol
Ruins of the Tubigon church

Tubigon, meaning watering hole, is a jump off point to Cebu. It was the customary docking place for boats coming from southern Cebu. The Jesuits had already arrived in Tubigon and in 1613 was made a visita of Tubigon. This is probably the same “Tobigu” mention by Pedro Chirino (1600) where he mentions that the people in anticipation of the Jesuits’ arrival built a church. Tubigon no longer appears in a 1779 inventory of churches, suggesting that the town may have been abandoned. It was formally constituted a town in 1819 from barrios of Calape and Inabanga, and became a parish under the Recollects in 1854. All through the intervening years, priests visited the town for Sunday Mass. No clear dates are available for the construction of the church.

The 20th century Church of San Isidro Labrador (Saint Isidore the Laborer) follows the basilical plan of a central nave with aisles, however, it has a transept, and crossing is covered by an octagonal cupola. The church fabric shows a mixture of materials, the upper part of the wall and most of the façade is concrete, however, the lower part is of rubble bound by lime mortar. Metal sheet are also used in the upper section of the nave. Jose (2001, 100) opines that these modern material were applied between 1928 and 1934, when the bell tower was made.

The nave is covered with metal ceiling decorated by Ray Francia from Cebu, his signature is found over the gospel or left transept. With Canuto Avila, Francia was commissioned by the Cebu bishops to paint the churches of Bohol in the 1920s and 30s. These paintings were mostly derived from holy pictures and illustrations from catechism and Bible histories.

At the exterior of the gospel flank, the mortar has been exposed to reveal the presence of stout posts or haligi that support the church’s roof. These posts are embedded in the mortar of the church fabric.

The church was heavily damaged by the 2013 Bohol earthquake; its facade & back collapsed.[6]


Roman Catholic Church, Trinidad,Bohol


Roman Catholic Church, Ubay, Bohol

Ubay was under the jurisdiction of Talibon both ecclesiastically and civilly for many decades until it became an independent municipality in 1840 and a parish in 1877. Followers of Dagohoy were resettled in the town as early as 1810. Although Redondo (1886, 182) describes the Ubay church as provisional and made of wood, it was rebuilt soon after by Fray Buenaventura Marrodan (1891–97); he was assisted greatly by the Reyes family who donated one of the bells dated 1872, and inscribed with the name Toribio Reyes, who was the first gobernadorcillo of Ubay.

The present church is of new construction. While parts of the apse, narthex and entrances to the transept belong to a 1920’s church, the rest were rebuilt when a typhoon damaged the church in 1968.


Roman Catholic Church, Valencia, Bohol

The parish of the Santo Niño and the town of Valencia began as Barrio Panangatan of Dimiao, Bohol. Conjoined with adjacent barrios, it was constituted a town in 1869 and a parish in 1871 and named after Valencia, the city on Spain’s southern coast. The church building commenced during the term of Fr. Mariano Cornago (1870–77) and was completed in 1882 by Fr. Francisco Arraya, who laid the church’s wooden floor. The church walls were of tabique but were later replaced by reinforced concrete.

The Church of the Santo Niño (Church of the Holy Child) has cruciform floor plan with a steep roof and a pyramidal crossing tower. Cut stones are used in parts of the church like the façade, however, concrete is found elsewhere. The real treasure of the church is its wooden floor of alternating dark (tindalo or balayong) and light (molave or tugas) wood planks. At the transept crossing, an eight-pointed flower design is used for the floor, while a herringbone pattern is used elsewhere. The neoclassical exterior with some Gothic elements like the windows, is unpainted unlike most Bohol churches. The altar is also in the neoclassical idiom.[45] The convent is located not adjoining the church as customary but across the street. This structure was renovated in the 19th century.


  1. ^ 'Villar' is not a translation of the word 'village' but Villar is the name of the former village where the sanctuary of the Virgin of Villar is now located in Corella, Navarre, Spain.[24]


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External links[edit]