One of the oldest churches in the Philippines is the Baclayon Church found in Bohol. Other old churches can be found in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and many other areas in the Philippines. Baclayon Church also known as The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The Jesuits initially made this church and has preserved a lot of its structure until the Augustinian Recollects added a modern look and more large stones which now surround the church.
Fr. Juan de Torres and Fr. Gabriel Sanchez were the first missionaries to settle in Baclayon, Bohol in 1595. They erected a small building for visitors. Even though Baclayon was the first fundament of the Jesuit priests, fear of the predominantly Muslim people in the southern Philippines or “Moro” forced them to transfer their home base in Loboc where the famous Loboc River and Floating Restaurant is situated today. It was only in 1717 where Baclayon became a Parish and the construction of the new church started.
Over 200 local laborers are forced to construct Baclayon Church. It was said that the stones are corals that came from the sea and cut it into big square blocks and then piled it into each other to build the walls and the main foundation of the church. They used hardwood and bamboos to move the stones in position. Simple machines such as pulleys, wheels and inclined planes were very useful during the creation of the Baclayon Church. A lot of historians said that laborers used millions of eggs and separated the egg white from the yolk and used it to cement the coral stones together.
The building was finished in 1727 and gradual additions on the interior of the church followed. The large bell was acquired in 1835 and was used to call locals to attend the thanksgiving. Baclayon church used to be a dungeon and a punishment area for natives who don’t abide the rules and regulations of the Roman Catholic Church. Beside Baclayon Church is the old convent which has a mini museum that housed artifacts, religious relics and other century-old antiques which dates back to the 16th century.
When getting inside Baclayon Church and Convent, all ladies who wore sleeveless shirt, skirt or something that shows a lot of skin are required to used the “sarong” or a piece of cloth to cover the openings. This is used to respect the Gods, Priests and worshippers who are inside the church and this avoid them getting distracted. So if ever you’re planning to visit Baclayon Church, just be sure you wear the proper attire.
Outside Baclayon Church is a candle stand and a candle seller is situated nearby. Each candles cost P20.00 with different colors to choose from because each color has its own meaning.
The reason we light candles
The Candle is symbolic of Jesus Christ as the light of the world. Lighting candles in prayer, especially in holy places, like in church, altar, etc means that the candles stand for the faithful that light these. We would like to stay in Adoration of our Eternal Father but because we cannot physically do so, the lighted candle stays for us. Since the lighted candle is symbolic of Jesus Christ, we are in effect leaving a part of us, in a holy place. It is our prayerful intentions in our physical absence.
Candle light Prayer
Loving Father, I’m busy all day,
rarely with you can I stay and pray.
Through the Saints to you above,
to offer my poor heart full of love.
But while in body I’m not here,
this lighted candles keeps me near.
I leave my heart burning as a light,
leave me yours whose radiance glows ever bight.
Would that I could ever stay
before you night and day.
May my candle’s brightness never cease.
As I leave with your inner glow of peace.
There is a proposed new convent and the design is already finalized. Pending now are the funds and the approval of most of Baclayon’s people for the construction to commence. Donations for the construction of the new convent are highly appreciated by the Parish.
Baclayon Church is 10 minutes away from the lone city of Bohol, Tagbilaran. A jeepney or a bus is available at Tagbilaran going to the direction of Baclayon. Alternatively a “habal-habal” or motor-for-hire or tricycle is also available at a negotiable fare of P10-30 per person.