Inevitably the 2nd oldest church in Philippine History, the Baclayon Church or locally known as the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, stands proudly at the heart of the town of Baclayon, a mere 6 km from Tagbilaran City. The ancient structure has withstood the elements of time and weather for centuries, making it one of the most visited places in Bohol. The moment you’d step into the church, you’d instantly feel a pang of nostalgia, as if it feels like you are walking through time back to the Spanish era.
In 1959, the first Spanish missionaries arrived in the region namely Fr. Juan de Torres and Fr. Gabriel Sanchez. Shortly thereafter, a visita was established in Baclayon. But because of the fear of invasion from Moro marauders, the missionaries were forced to seek further refuge inland, in the town of Loboc.
Later in 1717, when Baclayon has officially become a parish, the idea of constructing a new church was materialized with the help of some 200 forced native laborers. Together, they gather coral stones from the sea and cut them into square blocks and pile them up to form the church walls. The workers used bamboo to lift up the blocks and put them into position, as well as the millions of egg whites to glue these big pieces together. Clearly, the ingenuity of man in the early times brings astonishment to visitors who come to know the history of this church.
By 1727, the church was successfully completed and a large bell was then added in 1835. It was said that a part of the church or the church itself, sometime served as a dungeon to punish those who violated the rules of the Roman Catholic Church.
Next to the church, an old convent that houses a museum is found. The museum displays relics, religious antiques and artifacts that are indeed centuries old, since the collection dates back to 16th century.
This museum flaunts:
An Ivory Statue of the Crucified Christ facing the ceiling, which was said to be presented by Catherine of Aragon
Relics of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Old vestments embellished in gold, ancient books that were covered with Carabao skins
Librettos of Church Music written in the Latin language exclusively on sheep skins
Original paintings of a Filipino painter named Liberato Gatchalian in 1859.
In the early 1800’s, a pipe organ was installed but was not properly maintained for than a century and a half. But recently in December of 2006, the 184-year-old pipe organ was completely restored to its full ability to deliver remarkable music to the ears of both locals and tourists alike.