Roman Catholic churches in Bohol

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Roman Catholic churches in Bohol are a distinct group of churches established during the early Spanish colonial period on the island-province of Bohol in the Philippines.[1] Four of these churches – Baclayon, Loboc, Loon, and Maribojoc – have been declared National Cultural Treasures for their 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 with epicentre near Sagbayan, Bohol, severely damaging the centuries-old churches in Baclayon, Dauis, Dimiao, Loay, Loboc, Loon and Maribojoc.[3] Loon church, reputed as the largest in Bohol and one of the oldest, was destroyed and turned into a pile of rubble by the shaking and accompanying soil liquefaction,[4] as was that of Maribojoc – completely levelled to the ground with nothing left standing.

The earthquake also destroyed newer churches made of reinforced concrete. San Isidro Labrador church in Tubigon lost its façade and other structures in the church complex.[5] St Michael parish church of Clarin, also made of reinforced concrete, collapsed, leaving just the bell tower and the front of the church standing.[6] Inabanga church also collapsed leaving just the façade and back of the building.[7]


Roman Catholic church, Alburquerque, Bohol

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

The Alburquerque Church traces its beginnings as a visita of Baclayon Church. The parish was formally inaugurated in 1869. It was partially damaged when a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Bohol and other parts of Central Visayas last October 15, 2013. The church was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute in 2014.



View of church of Antequera, Bohol

The present Nuestra Señora del Rosario (Our Lady of the Holy Rosary) church of Antequera was started in 1896 under the orders of Father Francisco Vega. He ordered the foundation to be constructed 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 made of stone 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. It is not of massive stone and smaller compared to the churches of other towns in Bohol. A notable feature of the church is its belfry situated on the left hand side of the church, which has a decorative dome roof with a statue of Jesus with outstretched arms at its peak.[8]

In August 2012, the church was repainted from white with blue and gold trims to a bright peach color with white trims.[9]


Façade and bell tower of the church of Baclayon, Bohol
Old convent-school of the church
Interior and altar of Baclayon church
Main article: Baclayon Church

About 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east of Tagbilaran City is the town of Baclayon with its church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, one of the oldest churches established in the Philippines. The Jesuit mission founded in 1596 was the first in the province. The present church, completed in 1727, is one of the best preserved Jesuit-built churches in the region. In the 19th century, the Augustinian Recollects added a modern façade and a number of stone buildings that now surround the church.


Although Baclayon was the first seat of the Spanish Jesuit missionaries and served as the residencia or center of the Bohol missions where the superior resided, fear of Moro marauders soon forced them to move their headquarters more inland to Loboc. Baclayon was one of two towns that did not join the Diwata revolt (1621), remaining steadfast in the Christian faith.[10]

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 top of each other.[a] They used bamboo to move and lift the stones in position, and used the white of thousands eggs as mortar to bind them. 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 defensive wall built by the Jesuits.[11]

When the Jesuits were removed in the Philippines in 1768, the administration was 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 bell tower, 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 finished on May 20, 1777 and dedicated to St Andrew, the patronal namesake of Father Andres de Santissima Trinidad, OAR, the parish priest from 1775 to 1787.[12] A stone inscription on the tower indicated the year "1777" but it has been defaced.[10] The church obtained a large bell in 1835.[10]

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 defensive wall's coral stones as material.

Church museum[edit]

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 have been 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 too are the cuadro paintings executed by Filipino painter Liberato Gatchalian in 1859.[10]

2013 Bohol earthquake[edit]

The bell tower was damaged by the earthquake of October 15, 2013 with the two upper levels collapsing. The front façade of the church (portico) added by the Recollects also collapsed.

Media related to Immaculate Conception Church in Baclayon, Bohol at Wikimedia Commons


Roman Catholic church, Balilihan, Bohol


Roman Catholic church, Calape, Bohol


Roman Catholic church, Candijay, Bohol

The municipality of Candijay was established in 1879 together with its establishment as a separate parish under the Recollects.[13] 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.[13] The present Candijay Church is neogothic in style as evinced by its tower and windows. The church is made of concrete.[1] The church recently added a portico in front.[13]


Clarin church prior to the 2013 earthquake
Remnants of the church after the quake
Remains of church post-2013 earthquake, Clarin Bohol
Remains of church post-2013 earthquake, Clarin Bohol

During the 2013 Bohol earthquake, the church of Clarin again collapsed leaving just the recently built bell tower and façade.[6]


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, 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 Nuestra Señora Del Villar (Our Lady of Villar), who is also the patron saint of Corella, Spain. The church was completed in 1886 under Fr. Nemesio Llorente.[14] The convent and two stone school buildings were constructed under the direction of successive priests. The feast day of Nuestra Señora Del Villar of Corella, Bohol is 27th April, while in Corella, Spain, it is 15 days after Easter.[15] The people of Corella are predominantly conservative Roman Catholic.[16] Through the years the church became dilapidated and a new church was constructed in the year 1924 with the help of all parishioners.


Roman Catholic church, Cortes, Bohol

Dauis Church[edit]

Roman Catholic Church, Dauis, Bohol
Interior of Our Lady of Assumption Church in Dauis, Bohol, showing some of the fresco work of Ray Francia

This is one of Bohol’s beautiful churches, which has retained its Spanish architecture although it has a semi-modern façade. The façade and portico of the Dauis church collapsed during the 2013 Bohol earthquake.[17]

Media related to Dauis Church at Wikimedia Commons


Roman Catholic Church, Dimiao, Bohol

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.[18] 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.


Roman Catholic church, Duero, Bohol

Garcia Hernandez[edit]

Roman Catholic church, Garcia Hernandez, Bohol


Roman Catholic church, Guindulman, Bohol


Roman Catholic Church, Inabanga, Bohol

The church of Inabanga was reduced to piles of rubble during the earthquake of October 15, 2013 with only the façade standing. The church's galvanized iron roofing material had earlier been replaced with heavier tile roofing, which is not practical in an earthquake-prone country. The townsfolk blamed the new tile roof for the collapse of the church.[7]


Roman Catholic Church, Jagna, Bohol


Roman Catholic church, Jetafe, Bohol


Roman Catholic church, Lila, Bohol


Roman Catholic church, Loay, Bohol

The church of Loay was severely damaged after the 2013 Bohol earthquake; its façade collapsed and the roof caved in.[19]


Roman Catholic church, Loboc, Bohol
Loboc church post-2013 earthquake
Remains of Loboc church belfry post-2013 earthquake
Main article: Loboc Church

The façade-portico of Loboc church collapsed during the earthquake of October 15, 2013. Its freestanding church tower also collapsed leaving less than half the tower standing. Media related to San Pedro Church, Loboc at Wikimedia Commons


Facade and twin towers of the Roman Catholic church
Sanctuary of Loon church
Loon church ruins after the 2013 earthquake

Media related to Loon Church at Wikimedia Commons

Maribojoc Church[edit]

Roman Catholic church, Maribojoc, Bohol

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

Media related to Panglao Church at Wikimedia Commons


Roman Catholic church, Tagbilaran
Tagbilaran cathedral Interiors

During the earthquake of 2013, the church was slightly damaged.

Media related to Tagbilaran Cathedral at Wikimedia Commons


Roman Catholic church, Talibon, Bohol


Roman Catholic church, Tubigon, Bohol
Ruins of Tubigon church

The church was heavily damaged by the 2013 Bohol earthquake; its façade & back collapsed.[5]


Roman Catholic church, Trinidad,Bohol


Roman Catholic church, Ubay, Bohol


Roman Catholic church, Valencia, Bohol


  1. ^ As well as paying tribute, all male Filipinos from 18 to 50 were obliged to render forced labour called polo, for 40 days of the year, reduced in 1884 to 15 days. It took various forms, such as building of roads and bridges; construction of public buildings and churches; cutting timber in forests; working in shipyards; and serving in Spanish military expeditions. A person who rendered polo was called a polista. The members of the principalia were exempt from polo: in addition rich Filipinos could pay a falla to avoid forced labour – about seven pesos annually. Local officials (former and current governadorcillos, cabezas de barangay etc.) and schoolteachers were exempt by law because of their service to the state. Thus the only ones who rendered forced labour were those poor Filipinos lacking social, economic or political prestige in the community. This served to reinforce notions of the indignity of labour in the minds of the Hispanicised Filipinos: labour became the badge of plebeianism.


  1. ^ a b c "Bohol Churches". Retrieved on 2013-10-15.
  2. ^ "Colonial Churches of the Philippines". National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Retrieved on 2013-10-15.
  3. ^ Ranada, Pia (2013-10-15). "Heartbreaking: 10 iconic churches in Bohol, Cebu damaged". Retrieved on 2013-10-15.
  4. ^ Cortes, Jed (2013-10-15). "Loon Church". Retrieved on 2013-10-15.
  5. ^ a b Marquez, Bullit (2013-10-16). "The rubble at San Isidro de Labrador church which was caused by …". Yahoo News. Retrieved on 2013-10-18.
  6. ^ a b De Castro, Erik (2013-10-16). "Death toll from Philippines quake at 107, more people missing". The Globe. Retrieved on 2013-10-18.
  7. ^ a b (2013-10-18). "Quake destroys centuries-old church, town hall in Inabanga, Bohol". ABS-CBN News Channel. Retrieved on 2013-10-19.
  8. ^ "Heritage Sites". Official Website of the Municipality of Antequera. Retrieved on 2013-10-15.
  9. ^ Jedsum (2012-08-26). "Antequera Church - August 2012". Panoramio. Retrieved on 2013-10-15.
  10. ^ a b c d IJsselstein (2002-04-16). "Bohol's Old Churches". Bohol Philippines. Retrieved on 2013-10-18.
  11. ^ "Baclayon Church". Retrieved on 2013-10-19.
  12. ^ Muog (2008-01-28). "Baclayon Church, Baclayon, Bohol". Muog. Retrieved on 2013-10-19.
  13. ^ a b c "Candijay Church". Bohol-Philippines. Retrieved on 2013-10-21.
  14. ^ Mister 'H' (2011-04-28). "Image of the Virgen del Villar venerated in Corella, Navarre (Spain)". Flickr. Retrieved on 2013-10-21.
  15. ^ PepiHabib (2011-10-16). "Corella romeria de la Virgen del Villar". YouTube. Retrieved on 2013-10-21.
  16. ^ "Celebrating Its Quasi - Centennial ( 1884 - 2009 )". Corella, Bohol Quasi-centennial. Retrieved on 2013-10-21.
  17. ^ Stieber, Zachary (2013-10-15). "Dauis Church and Loay Church Damaged After Earthquakes Rock Philippines". The Epoch Times. Retrieved on 2014-03-06.
  18. ^ Espina, Flordeliza O. (2014-01-25). "Bohol churches to be restored" Manila Standard Today. Retrieved on 2014-03-05.
  19. ^ (2013-10-15). "The collapsed facade of the Holy Trinity Parish in Loay Town is …". Yahoo News. Retrieved on 2013-10-19.

External links[edit]