Bohol is more than just its Chocolate Hills or the Tarsiers or its powdery white sands… This beautiful province is both historical and magical at the same time and offers a myriad of activities for anyone who wish to visit.
I had another chance to explore this province by going around some of their famous churches — an activity that, considering how many times I’ve been here, I have never done before. Let’s call this an early Visita Iglesia which I got to do with some members of the media during the recent Ubi Festival 2017. So, if you happen to find yourself in Bohol in April, make sure to do a Visita Iglesia.
Each church has its own unique story to tell that will amaze you. So, let’s begin our Visita Iglesia…
A wonderful Visita Iglesia in Bohol
1. St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Tagbilaran
This is the main seat of the Catholic faith in Bohol and can be found along Carlos P. Garcia Avenue.
St. Joseph The Worker is the patron saint of Tagbilaran City and one of the first 6 parishes founded by the Jesuit missionaries who came to Bohol in 1595.
You will find 2 Filipino baroque pieces on the both ends of the altar.
Carlos P. Garcia Avenue
Bohol, Central Visayas
Philippines – 6300
T: (038) 411-2282
2. Church of the Immaculate Conception, Baclayon
This church is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the Philippines established by the Spaniards in 1595 and the first seat of Christianity in Bohol.
This is also the oldest coral stone church in the region. One of the oldest in Asia and foremost among the best-preserved Jesuit-built churches in the Philippines.
During the recent earthquake back in 2013, the church’s bell tower was severely damaged but it has finally been restored.
The whole church is still under restoration, though.
The museum houses centuries-old religious relics, artifacts and other antiquities dating back to the 16th century. Touching of any artifact is prohibited since there are oils on the palm of our hands which may damage an artifact overtime. Picture taking is not allowed also.
3. Santa Monica Church, Alburquerque (Alburquerque Church)
Santa Monica Church or the Alburquerque Church is under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tagbilaran and one of the first stone churches in the Philippines.
As most Bohol churches, this one has a portico as well and a pulpit that’s still being used until now.
When you look up, you will see a painted ceiling made by Ray Francia in 1930s. According to our tour guide, you will see his signature on one side of the choir loft.
Unfortunately, this church was partially damaged also during the 2013 earthquake which struck with a magnitude of 7.2. This church is still being renovated.
It was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute in 2014.
4. San Nicolas de Tolentino Church, Dimiao
This parish church in Dimiao is the smallest in terms of floor size in Bohol.
The facade can be described as Neo Baroque and is flanked by twin octagonal towers.
Currently, the church is closed due to the 2013 earthquake, receiving heavy cracks and displacing the ceiling of the church. Because of this, authorities and priests are the only ones allowed to enter the church. Sunday and daily masses are held at the Dimiao local gym.
5. Holy Trinity Church, Loay
The Holy Trinity Church or known locally as Santissima Trinidad Church is built on a plateau facing the sea and near Loboc River. If you’re coming from the “downtown” area, you have to take the flight of stairs that go up the church.
The interior is painted with trompe l’oeil with Biblical scenes.
This is the only church with an altar that is protruded and covered with metal work with the original metal retained.
TRIVIA: The ceiling painting is a restoration by a tricycle driver who won first place in Metrobank’s annual competition.
6. Shrine of Our Lady of the Assumption, Dauis
This church in Dauis on the Island of Panglao was founded by the Jesuits Fr. Diego de Ayala and Joseph Gregorio. This basilica-style church is influenced by both Byzantine and Romanesque architecture and has been considered as one of Bohol’s most beautiful churches.
Our Lady of the Assumption, their patron saint, is enshrined at the church apse protected by a ciborium-like canopy.
Just like the Santa Monica Church in Alburquerque, Ray Francia also painted the ceiling in 1916.
Due to the 2013 earthquake, the facade and portico collapsed. This is currently being restored by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the target date of completion is 2019.
7. St. Augustine Church, Panglao
Our last stop was St. Augustine Church in Panglao. But because of time constraints, we weren’t able to enter the church. Too bad since I’ve heard nice stories about it and how beautiful this church is. I’ll make sure to visit this church again when I come back to Bohol… perhaps on another Visita Iglesia. 🙂
Discovering the beauty of Bohol isn’t limited to what this province is commonly known for. There are many more beautiful places and things to explore in this incredible tourist destination which you simply mustn’t miss — just like the Visita Iglesia. It’s a great way to learn more about this place and its colorful history. This way, you can fall in love all over again with Bohol… just the way I did.