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