My Bohol Sojourn, part deux

An impromptu trip to Bohol over the weekend afforded me the chance to visit — and revisit — some of the island’s lesser known, but equally significant Spanish-era churches. Sadly, while the province remain a prime tourist destination, most of Bohol’s old churches are relegated to the background, and their upkeep and preservation are mostly overlooked.

The Church of San Nicholas Tolentino. Dimiao’s church is one of the oldest stone churches of Bohol, identified by its twin bell towers flanking both sides of the church’s front façade. Way in front of the church building is a tower with the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus where the “hugos” is done during dawn rites of Easter Sunday.

Church of the Sto. Niño. Established as an independent parish in 1793 or 94, it was renamed Paminguitan. The town was established later, probably in 1862. The town was renamed after the Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes. — in Cortes, Bohol, Philippines.

Church of Sta.Monica. Boholanos call the town “Albur.” Located along the highway is the church complex built on a low knoll. The Albur parish was established in 1869 after being separated from Baclayon, Bohol. An 1886 reports indicates that the church was built of light materials, however, the convento described as “de grandes dimensiones” was already standing. — in Alburquerque, Bohol.

Church of the Holy Trinity. The church is cruciform, has two facades: the older is decorated with low relief and the newer was apparently completed in the 20th century as its upper register is in reinforced concrete. The whole is surmounted by cement statues depicting the virtues. — in Loay, Bohol.

Virgin of the Holy Rosary Church. A heritage site, the present Lila Church was built during the term of Fr. Francisco Maglasang (1918-360). Completed in 1925, it is of poured concrete. — in Lila, Bohol. Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino. The San Nicolas Tolentino parish in Dimiao, Bohol may have been built toward the later half of the 19th century. — in Dimiao, Bohol.

Bilar Church was built in 1831 and is one of the many old churches of Bohol. — at Bilar, Bohol.

Church of St. Peter. The Church of San Pedro in Loboc, Bohol is the second oldest church in Bohol. It was originally built in 1602, but soon reduced to ashes. In 1638, a stronger one was build. Located near the river, it has survived a number of floods. Inside the church, you can admire some remarkable naive paintings on the ceiling. — in Loboc, Bohol, Philippines.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. The cruciform church dedicated to Nuestra Señora del Carmen has a squat octagonal cupola. The interior is embellished with paintings by Ray Francia, and has altars that combine Corinthian columns, neogothic spires and crockets, Baroque volutes and Art Deco open work. A veritable summary of 200 years of style. — in Balilihan, Bohol.

Our Lady of the Rosary Church. The Nuestra Señora del Rosario parish of Antequera was founded in 1880. The church by this date was of tabique pampango and other light material. — in Antequera, Bohol.

Sikatuna Church.

The Church of St.Vincent Ferrer. It was when the Jesuits left the town in 1767 that the Maribojoc parish, officially known as “Parrowquia de Santa Cruz”, was established.By the year 1768, the Agustinian Recollect friars took over; and by 1852, construction of the Maribojoc Church was first started. The church was erected on what was once a swampy land. The construction was said to be about 20 years of hard work until it was finished in 1872.


Of course, no trip to Bohol is complete without visiting the fabled Chocolate Hills and the historic Blood Compact Shrine, and then have lunch while cruising Loboc River. This year, I decided to be ‘more adventurous’, and visit ‘not-in-your-usual-tour-package’ destinations. Well, my gambit paid off!

From Tagbilaran City, the first site of note that you’ll see is the Blood Compact Shrine. Larger-than-life statues of Datu Sikatuna, a native Boholano chieftain, and Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, representing the King of Spain, reenacts the ‘sandugo‘ ritual between the two countries. The blood compact on March 16, 1565 is considered as the first “Treaty of Friendship” between the brown and white races.

The actual site of the blood compact, however, is still a few kilometers down the road. The National Historical Institute Marker of Sandugo proves that it was in Loay, Bohol where the actual Blood Compact took  place, as evidenced by narratives written in the book Colleccion De Documentos De Ultramar —  a logbook detailing General Legazpi’s expeditions.

Hiring a van to take me around the island sure had its benefits. Cruising along the Tagbilaran East Road, I was treated to a full palette of greens and blues — verdant fields, dreamy ocean and azure skies.

Chit-chatting with the driver, I was surprised to learn that Bol-anons, too, are rice terraces builders. The rice terraces of Lila, Loay and Dimiao are a wondrous sight. Although not occupying a large area as that of Mt. Banawe, the terraces are still beautiful to behold especially when it is covered in velvety green layers.

Further along the coastal road to Dimiao town proper, my attention was caught by a rock formation — nature has carved a lonely rock and transformed it into some shape resembling a hat or something. The driver told me that the rock — they named it (General) McArthur’s Cap — marks our entry to Dimiao town. Had it been in Manila, it would have been an ideal place to unwind after a busy day, especially during sunsets.

Reaching Dimiao, I hastily alighted from the van — while the driver parked along the church grounds — to take snapshots of the majestic San Nicholas Church, where, upon circling the old building, I was greeted by another Spanish structure located just across the street from the Catholic church. Local residents were too eager to share with me stories about the old ruins — The Ermita Ruins, they call it. The ermita was believed to have been used as a military fortress, chapel, and final resting place of the members of the Spanish clergy at the time.

The Ermita Ruins has honeycombed-arranged tombs or sepulchers that are unique and  so far, the only one found in the Philippines, which make up the walls of the Ermita. Researchers from the National Historical Institute were baffled why no remains were found in the tombs. To them, perhaps, it was constructed to serve not only as a chapel, but also as a cemetery. But even before it was completed, it could be possible that a big catastrophic event occurred, an epidemic perhaps, which explains the mass burial, as evidenced by skeletons excavated from the ground, not properly arranged but just laid on top of the others. On the other hand, NHI experts consider the idea that perhaps, the absence of bones in the hundreds of small niches (although there were few sets of bones recovered and transferred to the Municipal Cemetery) explained by the closure of the cemetery in 1844 by Fr. Manuel Carususan; its nearness to the church was deemed unhealthy. Other archaeological excavations were done in 1995 and 1998 in a quest to uncover its mysterious past.

From Dimiao, I continued my journey of ‘rediscovery’ to see the fabled Chocolate Hills. Located in the town of Carmen, the 1,268 perfectly cone-shaped ‘chocolate’ hills are undoubtedly the most famous tourist attraction in Bohol. Returning to this place half a decade later, I was surprised to see that the hill where the old viewing deck sits has been developed into a resort. It’s now a complex offering overnight accommodation, conference rooms and restaurants.

By lunchtime, we were already on our way back to Loboc.

Despite doing this a couple of times already, I still enjoy the fascinating boat ride — while having lunch — along the serene waters of Loboc River.

The ride via motorized pump boat ends near the Tontonan water falls, where several falls with cascading water provides a pleasant bathing session. One local resident commented that Tontonan is actually as ‘false falls’, as it is not really a busay, the local term for a water falls.

On the ride back to port, we made a stop-over at a platform along the riverbanks where residents in colorful costumes entertained us with a cavalcade of folk dances, including the famous Tinikling, which easily became the crowd favorite.

Oh, before I forget, Loboc now also offers other activities for extreme sports enthusiasts — a zipline that traverses the river… and if you’re hoping to do this   ——>

sorry, no can do. In those days, you can pet the tarsiers, but unbeknownst to most people, this is not healthy for the cute marsupials, as it causes them undue stress, leading to self mutilation, or worse, suicide ; thus, they were hied away to a more friendly environment — the Corella Tarsier Preserve.

With a 5:30PM Tagbilaran-to-Cebu ferry to catch, I hastily continued on my journey, visiting the last few churches on my list — Sikatuna, Maribojoc,Antequera, Cortes.

Capping my Bohol sojourn is a detour to Mag-aso Falls in Antequera, just a short distance from Tagbilaran City. About 25 feet tall with verdant green forest as a fitting background for the placid waters, Mag-aso Falls is an enticing bathing resort with its cool cascading water and scenic surroundings.

Not able to resist the cool waters, I waded along the side of the catch basin and just sat there for a full five or so minutes, just allowing the refreshing water to soothe my tired limbs. Mag-aso Falls is still untouched by commercialism, evidenced by the few patrons enjoying their afternoon dip. I was halfway to closing my eyes to take in the serenity of the place when I heard a muted splash just a few feet away. Curious as to what it was, I slowly opened my eyes, just in time to see two boys preparing to dive! Scrambling for my camera, I pointed the lens to the two daredevils and snapped away… what a sight! And what a way to end my day in Bohol!

Climbing the stairs back to my rented van, I was mumbling to myself: I will be back…


About Seeing with Brahmin eyes
My sense of humor can be keen, sarcastic, silly or corny -- sometimes all at once. I enjoy meeting new people with no preconceived ideas about what or what is not possible. You get much more out of life by being open minded and willing. I'm an easy going, good-natured person who loves life and loves people. I'm both optimistic and realistic and pretty objective when it comes to assessing situations, events, etc. In general I am a very positive person and you'll usually find we with a smile on my face.

4 Responses to My Bohol Sojourn, part deux

  1. elmer says:

    I have come across a lot of Bohol travelogues before. This is one of the more informative and enticing. ItsmorefuninBohol! 🙂

  2. Hi, Requesting permission to use your Photos of Bohol Churches for my blog Thanks

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