Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Balilihan, Bohol)

Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Part of the Panglao Bluewater Resort-sponsored CountrysideTour

The town’s previous church, built with tabique and nipa after the 1863 typhoon, was renovated in 1889 but burned, together with the convent, the municipio (municipal building), the school building for boys and girls as well as private houses, by the Americans on November 12, 1900 even when all the town’s officials, led by Capitan Antonio Racho, came out to meet the soldiers with a brass band.  Only the separate, hilltop bell tower was spared.

The left side of the church

The present church, built in the early 20th century with poured concrete, has a cruciform plan with a squat octagonal cupola..  It has a nave divided into three aisles, and a portico, with a central bell tower, in front of the façade.

The portico with the bell tower above it

The church’s original three-storey square bell tower, on Mt. Carmel Hill overlooking the plaza, can be reached by climbing 104 concrete steps.

The 104 concrete steps leading up Mt. Carmel Hill

It was started in 1835 by Augustinian Recollect Fr. Antonio Cortes using cut coral stones gathered in Baclayon, and inaugurated in 1846.

The restored coral stone bell tower

Over time, exposure to the elements slowly eroded the surface of the belfry. A not-so-faithful restoration was done on the structure, its surface patched with irregularly cut stones, put in place with cement.

Bas relief at tower wall

The 7.2 magnitude earthquake of October 15, 2013, totally toppled the restored structure.   It has since been faithfully reconstructed with the help of the National Museum.

The tower entrance

Its hip roof, with wide overhangs, is supported by carved corbels. The tower’s arched openings are decorated by scroll work and floral designs. Its bells have been removed and installed in the bell tower in front of the church at the foot of the hill.

The church interior with ceiling paintings by Ray Francia

Inside the church are ceiling murals of representations of Heaven, the Sacraments, saints and holy scenes, some done by Cebuano artist Ray Francia (the “Michaelangelo of Cebu”).

The choir loft area

The altars combine Corinthian columns, Neo-Gothic spires and crockets, Baroque volutes and Art Deco open work.

The main altar area

Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Balilihan-Sikatuna Provincial Rd., Balilihan 6342, Bohol.  Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: July 16.

How to Get There: Balilihan is located 21.5 kms. (a 30-min. drive) northeast of Tagbilaran City (through CPG North Ave.) and 19.7 kms. northeast via Corella (through J.A. Clarin St.).

Panglao Bluewater Resort: Bluewater Rd., Sitio Daurong, Brgy. Danao, Panglao, 6340 Bohol.  Tel: (038) 416-0702 and (038) 416-0695 to 96. Fax: (038) 416-0697.  Email: panglao@bluewater.com.ph. Website: www.bluewaterpanglao.com.ph.  Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, Rufino cor. Valera Sts., Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City, Metro Manila.  Tel: (632) 817-5751 and (632) 887-1348.  Fax: (632) 893-5391.

Ermita Ruins (Dimiao, Bohol)

The Ermita Ruins

Part of the Panglao Bluewater Resort-sponsored CountrysideTour

The 1,000 sq. m. ruins of the Spanish-era Ermita (Spanish for “church” or “hermitage”), situated parallel to the nave of the Church of St. Nicholas Tolentine, are the ruins of a coralline limestone structure built between 1800 and 1815 by Fr. Enrique de Santo de Villanueva. During the Spanish period, people were not allowed to hold wakes in their houses so they took their dead to Ermita instead.

It was allegedly used as a military fortress, a chapel and a burial site for members of the Spanish clergy. In 1844, due to its proximity to the church (which was deemed unhealthy), the cemetery was closed by Fr. Manuel Carasusan

In 1995 and 1998, archaeological excavations were done by the National Museum in a quest to uncover its mysterious past. At this burial site, the researchers discovered skeletons buried facing east, not properly arranged but just laid on top of each other (suggesting there was a mass burial), and human teeth remains (showing a tooth-filing tradition), suggesting a functioning cemetery.

However, they were surprised at not finding any remains in the small ossuaries or bone niches because these were considered “secondary” burial sites, which could be a carryover from the ancient Boholano practice of secondary burial. The bones found during excavation were transferred to the municipal cemetery. Every November 1 (All Saints Day), a mass is held inside Ermita Ruins for the souls of those buried there.

Ruins of the small church

On July 30, 2011, the St. Nicolas of Tolentine Church Complex, including Ermita Ruins, was declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum.

A honeycomb of burial niches

Closely resembling Paco Cemetery, its surrounding semicircular wall has at least 700 empty tombs arranged like a honeycomb, making it the only structure unique to the Philippines. The ruin of a chapel stands at the center of the Ermita. In front of the chapel is a mound where the krus dako (big wooden cross) was displayed.

The mound where the krus dako was displayed

Ermita Ruins: St. Nicolas of Tolentine Church Complex, Dimiao, Bohol.

Panglao Bluewater Resort: Bluewater Rd., Sitio Daurong, Brgy. Danao, Panglao, 6340 Bohol.  Tel: (038) 416-0702 and (038) 416-0695 to 96. Fax: (038) 416-0697.  Email: panglao@bluewater.com.ph. Website: www.bluewaterpanglao.com.ph.  Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, Rufino cor. Valera Sts., Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City, Metro Manila.  Tel: (632) 817-5751 and (632) 887-1348.  Fax: (632) 893-5391.

Church of St. Nicholas of Tolentine (Dimiao, Bohol)

 

Church of St. Nicholas of Tolentine

Part of the Panglao Bluewater Resort-sponsored CountrysideTour

One of the churches severely damaged during the October 15, 2013 earthquake was the Church of St. Nicholas of Tolentine in Dimiao.  The ceiling of the church received heavy cracks, the walls of both the left and right wings of the transept cracked open, and large portions of the outer stone finishes in various areas of the church exterior fell down.

As of early 2014, the structure, though still standing, was deemed unsafe to enter. Only priests and church convent authorities were allowed to enter the church. As of this writing, the church is being repaired, with scaffolding installed throughout the exterior and interior. We were allowed to enter the church.

The painted ceiling

 

The town’s present magnificent church, one of the oldest in the province, was built from 1800 to 1815 by Fr. Enrique de Santo Tomas de Villanueva with cut stone blocks. On  July 30, 2011, the church complex, including the Ermita Ruins, were declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum due to its outstanding historical, aesthetic, social and architectural significance.

Check out “Ermita Ruins

The church has a cruciform plan with an atypically short transept. The church is the only other Spanish-era church, aside from Loon,  that was not originally built with a portico

Its powerful Early Renaissance façade, with subtle hints of baroque and Muslim influence, is divided into segments by square pilasters ornamented with a shallow octagonal relief of fine floral carvings arranged as vertical bands.  On the lower level is a semicircular main entrance (above which is the Spanish coat-of-arms) flanked by blind windows.

On the second level is a statued niche of San Nicolas Tolentino topped by a small pediment and flanked by semicircular windows.

The octagonal bell tower

The steep stone stairway leading up to the right bell tower

On the church’s flanks are two minaret-like octagonal bell towers with seven bells, the earliest dating from 1841.  The tower on the right is accessible by a steep stone staircase followed by a wooden one.

The main altar retablo

Inside are three Neo-Classical retablos, a pulpit with wrought iron banister and a spacious sacristy and choir loft.

The pulpit with wrought iron bannister

The convent, now a school behind the church,  was constructed by Fr. Manuel Carasusan (1842 to 1855 and 1858 to 1864).  Part of its ground floor has a small parish museum. It is linked to the church sacristy by a bridge-like corridor.

Left side retablo

Church of St. Nicholas of Tolentine: Poblacion, 6305 Dimiao. Tel: (038) 536-1009. Feast of St. Nicholas of Tolentine: September 10.

How to Get There: Dimiao is located 44.7 kms. (a 1-hour drive) east of Tagbilaran City.

Panglao Bluewater Resort: Bluewater Rd., Sitio Daurong, Brgy. Danao, Panglao, 6340 Bohol.  Tel: (038) 416-0702 and (038) 416-0695 to 96. Fax: (038) 416-0697.  Email: panglao@bluewater.com.ph. Website: www.bluewaterpanglao.com.ph.  Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, Rufino cor. Valera Sts., Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City, Metro Manila.  Tel: (632) 817-5751 and (632) 887-1348.  Fax: (632) 893-5391.

Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker (Tagbilaran City, Bohol)

Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker

Part of the Panglao Bluewater  Resort-sponsored Tagbilaran City Tour

First built with forced labor by Jesuits in 1787, it was burned on December 23, 1798 (8 PM) and reconstructed and enlarged from 1839 to 1855 by Fr. Valero de San Sebastian. Between 1888 and 1894, Fr. Escolastico Enciso made improvements by sumptuously painting it and adding iron cornices, wooden flooring and chandeliers. In 1941, the church was made into a cathedral.  Very little remains of its Spanish-era past.

The new left wing of the cathedral

Between 1945 and 1951, ill-conceived and deeply regretted renovations were initiated by Msgr. Julio Rosales (the first Bishop of the Diocese of Bohol and later Cardinal), assisted by the parish priest Fr. Arturo Tecson. The coral stone facing was totally replaced by cement, the antique wooden flooring was replaced by reinforced concrete and the original ceiling, featuring beautiful, centuries-old frescoes depicting catechetical themes and Biblical scenes found in many historic churches of Bohol, was totally changed and lost forever.

The right wing

Between 1952 and 1970, the church façade and the choir loft were totally changed by Msgr. Manuel Mascarinas, with the assistance of parish priests Fr. Pedro Namoc and Fr. Camilo Auza.  Major renovations were also done in the interior and exterior walling.  To widen and enlarge the presbytery, massive stone walls were demolished so that the main altar can be moved back by 3 m. and additional wings (which forever altered its cross-shaped plan) were built to accommodate a fast-growing congregation.

The statue of St. Joseph the Worker that replaced the small, Spanish-era obelisk

Also, on May 1, 1996, as part of the Cathedral Expansion Project, a small obelisk in front of the church, erected in February 1828 and repaired on February 1949 was removed, replaced by a statue of St. Joseph the Worker. The church was slightly damaged during the strong October 15, 2013 earthquake.

The cathedral interior

The cathedral has a Neo-Romanesque facade with corbelled arches underneath the cornice, a porch over the main entrance and tall, semicircular arched windows. The Augustinian Recollect Order’s seal are carved on the doors, arches and cornices.

The main and 2 side altars

Inside are 20 venerated, wooden and historic images along the walls of the church. The main altar, elegantly decorated with ornate gold designs depicting symbols of Old Testament times, is in the 19th century Neo-Classical style.

The main altar

At its center is the 18th century image of St. Joseph the Worker, with the image (dated 1848) of San Roque (St. Roch), the secondary patron, on the left, and that of St. Vincent Ferrer, dated 1861, on the right. Immediately above St. Joseph’s throne, on the main altar’s second storey, is the image of Nuestra Senora de Lourdes (Our Lady of Lourdes), said to have been donated in 1895 by Dona Maria de Bourbon of the Royal House of Spain, and installed, with great pomp, on February 19, 1895.

The left side altar

The 2-tiered side altars are of the 18th century Baroque style. The left wing retablo contains images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (acquired in 1897) and 4 different devotions to the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of Jesus, and St. Therese of Liseuix, the Little Flower.  On the right side altar are the Risen Christ, the Immaculate Heart of Mary (acquired in 1897), St. Anthony of Padua, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

The new ceiling frescoes

The 4-storey bell tower (currently being repaired), with a dome roof and six bells (dating from 1891 to 1907), was started in 1886 by Fr. Jose Sanchez and finished and blessed in April 1891.  The 2-storey convent, also destroyed in 1798, was enlarged and roofed with galvanized iron in 1872 by Fr. Lucas Coromina. It is now the bishop’s residence.

The 4-storey bell tower

Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker: J.A. Clarin cor. F. Sarmiento St., Tagbilaran City. Tel: (038) 411-2282 and (038) 411-3522. Feast of St. Joseph the Worker: May 1.

Panglao Bluewater Resort: Bluewater Rd., Sitio Daurong, Brgy. Danao, Panglao, 6340 Bohol.  Tel: (038) 416-0702 and (038) 416-0695 to 96. Fax: (038) 416-0697.  Email: panglao@bluewater.com.ph. Website: www.bluewaterpanglao.com.ph.  Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, Rufino cor. Valera Sts., Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City, Metro Manila.  Tel: (632) 817-5751 and (632) 887-1348.  Fax: (632) 893-5391.

The Ancestral Houses of Sitio Ubos (Tagbilaran City, Bohol)

Part of the Panglao Bluewater  Resort-sponsored Tagbilaran City Tour

Tagbilaran City has a number of heritage houses that can be found in Sitio Ubos (Lower Town), the oldest district of the city. During this period, old rich Chinese families built their houses in this formerly major port town in the city to establish their wealth. In 1916, there were only four families living there – the Oppus-Borjas, the Rochas, the Manigques and the Butalids. Through the positioning of their houses, the Rochas almost wholly owned the place, showing their great economic clout. We visited three of these, all located in close proximity to each other.

Fortich-Rocha House

The first house we visited was Fortich-Rocha House, the home of Don Fernando Gorraiz Rocha. Formerly a renowned schoolteacher (known as Maestro Andoy) in the Spanish school for boys and also a former governor of Bohol in the early 20th century, Don Fernando lived here with his wife, Dona Catalina Fortich, a local lady of Spanish extraction. The house, probably built before the 1850’s, was made with wooden boards and had a nipa roof.

The ground floor of this house once served as a bazaar.  However, the house was made popular by the baking skills of the Las Hermanas Rochas, the unmarried sisters of Don Fernando, who once produced the best pastries in town – hojaldres, broas, kinatloan and the plebeian fare called dugmok (toasted left-over bread).

Antonio Rocha House

The most distinct and impressive house in Sitio Ubos today is probably the house of the mestizo sangley Don Antonio Rocha, once the escribiente (clerk) of the Tagbilaran parish.   It has a tile roof and stone skirting at the ground floor. On the back wall is inscribed the date 1831, most likely the year when this house was built. In the 1970’s, the owners rented out some of the rooms to students in Tagbilaran.

Later on, the owner sold it to a Manila-based antique collector who shelled out some earnest money so as to gain foothold in the house, after which he began methodically stripping the house of valuable antiques, including the frame of an Antonio Rocha painting.  He then sold it to the present Swiss owner.

On the opposite side of the road is the impressive Beldia House, built in 1858 by Don Esteban Butalid, a gobernadorcillo and businessman. Don Manuel Timoteo Hidalgo, the brother-in-law of Jose Rizal (married to sister Saturnina), stayed in the house for four months (in January 1889 and then again in December of the same year) during his exile to Bohol.  It is also possible that Jose Rizal himself may have visited the house when he supposedly toured Bohol in 1894. During the Spanish regime, the house served as a provisional municipio before a new one, long since disappeared, was built high on the cliff above Sitio Ubos. In 1971, Judge Antonio Beldia bought the house from the Butalid-Calceta-Gallares family corporation.

The Beldia House

The Beldia House, with its elegant floating volada atop massive masonry walls, has a lot in common with its neighbor, the equally outstanding and exceptional Antonio Rocha House.  Both have curving gambrel roofs of clay tiles with its bent-down ridges.  Unique in the province, it gives the houses a distinct Chinese feel. Likewise, both houses have massive ground floor walls made with coral stone.

Hidden in one of the side walls (which used to be the main façade), fronting a now vanished road, is the original main entrance, now serving as window to the former office of the late Judge Beldia. Its elaborate Neo-Classic facade, unique in Boholano domestic architecture, is flanked by two pilasters with particularly attractive Composite capitals (a whimsical interpretation of the Corinthian model) hewn from coral stone.  Its three-centered arch is topped by an architrave of Classic proportions.

Originally having a U-shaped floor plan, the house’s internal courtyard has now been roofed over and now serves as the main entrance. The upper floor has since undergone considerable alterations.  There are new jalousie windows and the old wooden panels were largely replaced by contemporary materials.

Panglao Bluewater Resort: Bluewater Rd., Sitio Daurong, Brgy. Danao, Panglao, 6340 Bohol.  Tel: (038) 416-0702 and (038) 416-0695 to 96. Fax: (038) 416-0697.  Email: panglao@bluewater.com.ph. Website: www.bluewaterpanglao.com.ph.  Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, Rufino cor. Valera Sts., Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City, Metro Manila.  Tel: (632) 817-5751 and (632) 887-1348.  Fax: (632) 893-5391.

Balili Heritage House (Tagbilaran City, Bohol)

Balili Heritage House

Part of the Panglao Bluewater  Resort-sponsored Tagbilaran City Tour

Our first stop in our Tagbilaran City tour was the majestic, two-storey Balili House, built sometime in 1934 by the then bachelor Mr. Eladio Balili, a history teacher of  Bohol National High School and businessman  (dried fish, lumber, furniture, transport and construction),  who later married Ms. Pancrasia “Caring” Castro.

The grand concrete stairway leading up to the porch

Barely visible from the street, its main facade is crowned by a wide overhanging gable roof with roof eaves adorned with Art Nouveau carvings.

The park-like garden

We passed through a park-like garden before climbing a sweeping grand concrete stairway leading to the artistically designed, second floor porch with its rounded corners, rough-hewn wooden posts, topped by semicircular arches with embroidery-like carvings on the fringes.

Arch. Gloria Balili-Katz (right) briefing members of media

The delicate calado wood carvings (in harp design), lattice screens, and barandillas (framed by carved wooden harps and friezes) underneath the windows add grace and playfulness to the house. The two sets of sliding capiz windows, with air vents above it, flank the porch on both sides.

February 18, 1957 (Eladio’s 58th birthday) picture of the Balili Family. Gloria is at the center

Elegant wooden canopies, with tooth-like fringes, protect the windows. The house has a square floor plan, unusual for Bohol houses.

The dining area

Upon entry, we were all welcomed by architect Gloria Balili-Katz, the youngest (of seven children) of Eladio and Pancrasia who gave us a tour of the well-preserved, incredibly beautiful mansion. According to her, the house served as a venue of grand social functions of Tagbilaran which were attended by prominent political and social personalities from both the local and national level.

Photo of Roxas-Quirino meeting on March 9, 1946

One such grand gathering was the March 9, 1946 meeting of then Pres. Manuel A. Roxas with senator (and later president) Elpidio R. Quirino, former governor Perfecto Balili (the brother of Eladio) and other important local political personalities. In March of 1942, during World War II, the Balili Mansion was requisitioned for use by high ranking Japanese military officers.

In the 1950s, after building a new larger house on the huge compound, Eladio finally moved out. The descendants of Eladio also preferred to build their own homes on the large family compound. The house was rented out but its last tenants moved out in 1998. For various reasons (accessibility, water supply, fear of ghosts, etc.), it was vacant for more than a decade.

Office desk with the agila chair (which Roxas sat on) behind it

Today, this well-maintained, virtually unchanged “sleeping beauty” has reawakened after it was converted into The Oasis lodging house (PhP450/pax for a fan-cooled room and PhP750/pax for an airconitioned room).  Meals are available upon request.

Antique wall-mounted clock

Inside are wooden walls (above which are calado woodwork) and ceiling, old photographs (including the photo of the Roxas-Quirino meeting) and floor of wide hardwood planks. Antique furnishings include the wooden chair (where Roxas sat on) with an agila (eagle) at its crest, an office desk, a butaka (a chair with long arm rests) and an old clock.

The sliding capiz windows with ventanillas below it

Balili Heritage House: 6 J. Borja St., Tagbilaran City. Tel: (038) 411-2511.  Mobile number: (0918) 299-1865. Website: www.oasislodgeHeritagehouse.com.

How to Get There: the house is located near the old Holy Spirit School, in front of Mang Inasal.

Panglao Bluewater Resort: Bluewater Rd., Sitio Daurong, Brgy. Danao, Panglao, 6340 Bohol.  Tel: (038) 416-0702 and (038) 416-0695 to 96. Fax: (038) 416-0697.  Email: panglao@bluewater.com.ph. Website: www.bluewaterpanglao.com.ph.  Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, Rufino cor. Valera Sts., Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City, Metro Manila.  Tel: (632) 817-5751 and (632) 887-1348.  Fax: (632) 893-5391.