*This blogpost is dedicated to our priceless heritage and to the unbreakable citizens of Bohol.
October 15, 2013 is a sad day for heritage and people of Bohol. We lament mainly for those that cannot be replaced like the hundreds of precious lives loss and the priceless heritage structures toppled down by a terrible 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shook the islands of Central Visayas.
In less than a minute of catastrophic ground shaking, the majestic churches of Maribojoc and Loon were reduced to rubbles of coral stones. The centuries-old churches of Baclayon, Loboc, Dauis, and other heritage churches and structures were severly damaged.
For those who have been fascinated by Bohol’s cultural treasures before the great earthquake, we can only describe how we were awestruck upon seeing these heritage churches up close and personal.
Santa Cruz Church in Maribojoc is charming. Its façade has a pinkish glow under the afternoon sun. Inside, the church ceiling covered with beaten-metal and painted with catechetical motifs. The five carved retablos were decorated on the surface with a patina of naturally faded paint and gold leaf. The choir loft has a large metal pipe-organ dating from the 1890s, which was last played in 1975.
Loboc Church is massive in scale and elegant in design. Carved on its coral stone façade were cherubs, emblems of the Jesuits and the Papal seal. Loboc is the only church in Bohol that has a free standing belfry away from the nave. This is an architectural characteristic common among Ilocos Earthquake Baroque churches.
The convent behind the church was converted into a museum. A room in Museo de Loboc has been reserved for the internationally-acclaimed Loboc Children’s Choir for their practices and voice lessons. These are the cultural treasures of Loboc.
The church of Daius in Panglao Island has a two layer façade and a belfry topped with miniature spires. The frescoes on its ceiling were painted by Ray Francia in 1916.
We can trace the church’s history from a legend. Locals say that when Moro pirates invaded the town of Dauis, the people lock up themselves inside the church until they ran out of food and water. A well miraculously appeared inside the church. We found the well, sealed by trapdoor under the red carpet at the foot of the altar. The water from the well is believed to possess healing powers.
The church of Dauis may look younger than the two previous churches we featured for this blog. But nothing compares to Baclayon Church when we speak of age. For a time, Baclayon claimed to have the first stone church in the country, rivaling San Agustin Church in Intramuros of this distinction. The debate was settled when historians revealed that Baclayon Church was constructed in 1721.
It is said that egg whites were to use as binding agent to seal the coral stone blocks. This perhaps explains why broas has become a popular delicacy in Bohol since it’s made of the unused part of the egg in the construction of its heritage churches.
This is my share for the PTB Carnival theme Memories of Cebu and Bohol, hosted by Grasya Bangoy of Grasya. Click the official PTB logo for a list of previous carnival themes and hosts.