Immaculate Concepcion Church facade

Immaculate Concepcion Church facade

Old churches are fascinating structures. If other countries and cultures have temples or mosques constructed in elegance to glorify their gods, I consider our churches as silent witnesses of our history. A milestone as the time it was constructed and the history it tells on its walls. Their design tells much about their story and the area where they are situated. I became even more intrigued of our historical churches when I got to visit one of the oldest churches in our country, the Immaculate Concepcion Church in Baclayon, Bohol.

Church and tower

One of the oldest stone church in the country

The Baclayon Church is considered as the oldest stone church in the country, but I’m not sure if it is since as I read in some text that San Agustin Church in Manila is the oldest since its foundation was set in 1571 25 years before Baclayons which is in 1596. But most people believe the honor of the oldest should be given to Baclayon since the island was occupied by the country’s first Spanish governor general, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. However recent evidences claim that the actual construction of the church was really on 1727, as the inscribed date of 1595 was actually the date when the church mission started. Historians and heritage experts? What’s the real story behind this?

View from the museum

View the nearby sea and the tower from the museum

Despite the historical discrepancies, I personally think this church is one of the best preserved churches and the most beautiful as well. But its a sad fact to learn as well that more than 200 slaves were forced by the spaniards to build this church. The church was constructed using corals which they took from the nearby sea and cut into blocks piled together. Bamboos were used to position and move these blocks and million of egg whites were used to cement all these together. Amazing construction still. The church obtained its large bell in 1835.

Church ceiling

Artful and decorative ceiling of Baclayon Church

As it stands now, I can’t help but be amazed with the old charm of the place. The interior of the church is huge. They are currently working on the ceiling which I think looks great. It’s amazing how they manage to incorporate these new additions without destroying its old feel.

Church Columns

Standing still and strong, these columns stood the test of times

I love the texture of the walls here. You could really see how old this structure is. The colored stained glasses as well adds a radiant touch of varying colors that fills its interiors different times of the day. The tiles as well is something to complement at. I’m not an expert at these forms of styles but it looks really well on a church floor. The church altars is so elegant as well. The corners are well lit and the details just astounding.

Church Altar

Elegant and intricate design of the church Altar

Just besid the church at the back is an old convent which houses a museum at the 2nd floor. If you have time to spare check it out, I think it’s really worth the Php 20 you’ll pay per person. The museum holds artifacts dating back 16th century. The religious relics here are an artwork in itself. Elegant cups, crowns, musicals notes and statues and other religious items can be found here in good condition. Cameras and videos are strictly prohibited here. You will always have a guide when touring the museum.

Side bench, each of these symbols represents the title of a person designated to seat there.

Side bench, each of these symbols represents the title of a person designated to seat there.

I think the people in charge of Baclayon Church are doing a great job in preserving the place amidst its tourism draw. They even have cultural shows to welcome guest. Their restrooms even paid are really clean and well maintained.


Impressive flooring, adequate lighting and textured walls

I am glad I finally had a chance to visit this old gem of a structure and has become one of my favorite church in our country. Visit Baclayon, one of the must see places when you visit Bohol.

Baclayon church at sundown

Experience the scenic seaside view of Baclayon church at sundown

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Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.

30 Responses to “Bohol: Baclayon Church”

  1. This was one of the places I missed when I went touring Bohol. I thought we were going, then we overlooked it.

    I did get to see chocolate hills, that falls where you can hold Tarsier monkey on the way in. Those were really fun.

    My father’s family is from Ubay and my sister married a huge family in Tagbilaran.

  2. Kyels

    Kuya, I wanna do a project related to churches next time when I am already earning my own cash. I have always been fascinated with these beautiful architectures that allow us to keep our faith going on in our daily lives.


  3. Oh, I’ve been there. I love this church. You know that port in front of the church? That was where Cesar Montano proposed to his wife with the Baclayon Children’s Choir singing… hehe… chismis! 🙂 This church also has one of the best preserved and oldest Filipino-Hispanic scores of religious music.

  4. i like the ceiling and the intricate design of the church… 🙂

    and of course i really like the last picture.. so nice..

    thanks for the additional info about this church. it sure is old from the outside.

  5. 200 slaves, corals, and millions of egg whites to construct this church? Ok, I can accept the fact that they used egg whites, but I don’t know about the 200 slaves and corals. I’m a little disappointed with the Spaniards. 😉

  6. love the captures as always. in my haste in going to more churches, di ko inabutan nang sunset itong baclayon. maybe another incentive to go back 🙂 btw, have you gone to the other churches? i find loboc even more charming. anyway, have a safe trip this long weekend bro! abangan ko mindanao posts mo.

  7. baclayon as one of the oldest but not the oldest…

    note legazpi also had the blood compact there (but not the first one in the soon to be known philippines)

    did you know those walls were made of egg whites and lime to hold them together?

    wish to go back to bohol one of these days 🙂

  8. aba naman…ang ganda. buti ka pa nakapasok. noong nagpunta ko diyan, kasalukuyang inaayos yung loob, may mga restorations silang ginagawa kaya hindi sila nagpapasok ng tao sa loob baka daw maaksidente. hanggang labas lang ako. i like old structures, architectures, lalo na yung super luma at tipong babagsak na. sarap nilang buhayin sa camera. nahirapan din akong kunan ang facade ng simbahang ito dahil napaka-dull ng itsura, hehe. buti ka pa my asul na asul na langit pang-contrast. noong nandoon ako medyo masungit ang langit. wide angle lens ba ginamit mo? nahirapan ako sa angulo kase nasa tabi na siya ng kalsada tapos, hindi pa pang WA ang lenteng gamit ko. muntik-muntikan pa akong mabundol. peborit ko ang first and last shots. galing.

  9. San Agustin really has the distinction of being the oldest church since were talking about the construction of the present edifice, not the founding of the town as most other places inscribe on the facade of their churches.

    As for the mural? It was constroversial since when they planned to do the “restoration” it didn’t pass the correct process of consulting and having trained conservationists and restorers. They even painted the mural where originally. there weren’t.

  10. nakaka-amaze naman yung egg white na ginamit.. to build that huge church malamang nga sobrang hirap ang dinanas ng mga slaves during that time 🙁 yun ang nakakalungkot dun.. but nonetheless the church is a real beauty…

  11. I’m glad about the feature you did re Baclayon church. My father-in-law used to be a parish priest in this church. He was the one who started the museum project. He was also the founder of the Immaculata High School beside the church.

  12. Great Church, and have you seen and heard the restored organ in the balcony? Build in the 1800’s it was just restored and re-installed in 2009. Also check out the organs in Loay and Loboc, both restored 19th C. Spanish organs.

  13. Nice Photos. I visited this church in Jan of 2010. It has a nice museum and I was able to take some photos of the organ. I hope they have an organ festival similar to the Bamboo Organ Festival in las Pinas to share the sound of the organ since it has Baroque Tuning and a nice sound.

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