Bohol: Old Churches

Now, the last time I was in Bohol, we weren’t able to visit the Loboc Church since we parked already at the other side of the river but this time around, I had to make sure I at least get to touch it – you all know I’m a sucker for old architecture. J The Church of San Pedro, or more commonly referred to as Loboc Church, is the 2nd oldest in Bohol, renovated in the 1700s, although the original structure was put up in 1602. It sits right across the street from the main dock of the scenic Loboc River, where the river cruise starts.
From this angle, it looks like it’s just a free standing wall. 🙂
It is predominantly Baroque in design although the portico, which was added during the renovation in 1720, covered up the façade. A bell tower was also added, located some 100-meters from the church and now sits across the street from the church. At the back is a three-story structure which houses a convent on its first two floors, and a museum on its top-most floor, where old vestments and religious statues are kept.
From top left: view across Loboc river,  bell tower and various side views of the church
An unfinished concrete bridge can be found across the street from the right wing of the church, on the same side as the bell tower – according to a bit of research on the internet, this bridge has remained unfinished because in order to complete it, the church will have to be demolished. I can’t help but seethe with anger over this – there are many other spots along the riverbank from where they construct a bridge and they had to pick this one?
In any case, we were kind of unfortunate that the church was closed when we visited – we can only admire it from the outside. I would have loved to see the interiors as I’ve seen lots of pictures on the net showing its Neo-classical features and Baroque side chapels. Maybe a third time in Bohol will do the trick?
Now, If we paid a visit to the 2nd oldest church in Bohol, of course we also paid a visit to the oldest- the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, or simply, Baclayon Church, which was first built in 1595, though the current building was completed in 1727. 
It is undeniably old, judging from looks alone
The church is made of coral stones taken by native labourers from the nearby sea using bamboo shafts and cut into blocks and piled one on top of the other. It is said that millions of eggs were used as cement in building the present structure. Eggs! I wonder how long it took them to finish it. According to some, construction of the building started in 1717 and finished in 1727, so that means ten whole years!
Similar to the Loboc, the Baclayon also has a portico, a style which was predominant in churches in the region. But perhaps what I find unique in this church is the glass compartments in its front walls, housing religious statues.
See those status inside the glass compartments?
While some may find the interiors a bit too gloomy, I find that it adds to the old charm of the church. 
One of the side altars
There are several retablos along its walls and the painted ceiling of the altar area from hundreds of years ago has survived to this day, and features the Jesuits’ motto: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. 

A funny thing keeps happening to me in this church (one of the few churches that implement dress code strictly). In my past visit, I was wearing a short, sleeveless dress and this time around, I was wearing shorts and sleeveless top. I know it’s not church-outfit but figuring I’m a tourist, I ought to be exempt, but as usual, I was wrong. 
The sea is right across the street from Baclayon and there are boat restos docked there and a picnic area:
I would have loved a picnic there but the heat was unforgiving! I was seriously having black spots in my vision and would have collapsed. Thank goodness our car was parked right in the church’s courtyard.
Another old church worth visiting is the St. Joseph’s Cathedral, or Tagbilaran Church, which was built in the late 18th century. The convent and bell tower were later additions in the 19th century and the chandeliers were put in place in 1894. 
a bit of a crappy shot; I was running while taking this since we were supposed to be on our way to the airport and only asked manong for a five-minute stopover

Very bright!
Across the Rizal Plaza from Tagbilaran Church is the old provincial capitol, a typical Spanish building with arcs and columns. I’m not sure if this is still being used to house the local government offices; I sign at the side of the building indicates it has been converted into a museum. Again, I must include this in my next trip.
Taking this shot while wondering “Oh no, the van is gone!”
Monument at Plaza Rizal (which was also know for a time as Plaza Principe):
our national hero

Up next is the highlight of our trip: beaches galore!
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Bohol: Man-Made Wonders

On our way back to Tagbilaran, our next stop was the man-made forest in Bilar (you won’t miss this as it is along the way to Carmen), the first and only of its kind in the country. It is a two-kilometer stretch of mahogany trees, covering at least 860 hectares of land, planted during the 60s as part of a nationwide reforestation program. Most especially for city-dwellers, this offers a very interesting respite where the road is protected from the heat of the sun by interlocking leaves of the greenest shade and the temperature is noticeably cooler. I must say It’s quite commendable how the Boholanos were able to keep this place clean despite the number of tourists that must pass this on a daily basis – or perhaps, the simplistic grandeur of the forest somehow compels a person not to go about trashing the place.
I still don’t have a decent “diwata” pic in this place
Another tourist spot we went to is the Sipatan Hanging Bridge – or simply Hanging Bridge – which connects two barangays separated by the Loboc River, and is made up of bamboo and steel ropes suspended some 20 meters from the river. There used to be only one bridge, for the use of the locals who previously had to climb down the steep cliff and use bancas to get to the other side, but after an influx of tourists compromised the safety of the bridge, a second one was built, made up of the same material. There is a souvenir shop at the other side of the bridge and in my last visit, a hut was also there where a native would showcase his talent in ripping of the skin of a coconut using only his teeth. But this time around, only the souvenir shop stands and the hut is nothing but a pile of rubble.
worried that crossing the bridge with hubby will send us plummeting to the river 😛
Take note though that the bridge can only support ten people at a time and a fee of Php 10 is collected at the entrance. I don’t really find anything fascinating about this bridge but mainly that’s because there was a time when to reach my grandparents’ house in Bulacan, we had to cross a wide stream using a bridge made of bamboo slats – it was more terrifying than the one in Bohol since it was only four bamboos tied together by rope and one slip means you fall down into the stream. It has since dried down though and there is no more need for the bridge. But I cannot deny that the view of the river from the bridge is quite breath-taking and worth many a shot. And the water is so clean that if you look down, you will see lots of fish swimming. 
The photo does not do the river any justice. You just have to see it!
We also made a quick stop at a historical monument – the Blood Compact site of Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. There isn’t much to see here, but the bronze monument is very gorgeous and the view of the sea is not t be missed. 
We skipped the Clarin Ancestral House, an old, colonial-style house with artifacts from a bygone era. We normally would have visited it, but this house isn’t as well preserved as the ones in Vigan. But you can read all about it from my last visit.