The Baclayon Church today is officially known as the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It was built in 1595 by the Jesuits and the first Spanish missionaries, called doctrineros in the region of Bohol, however, in the 19th century, Augustinian Recollects added numerous stone buildings and modernistic frontage that now enclave the church. It was constructed in honor of Mother Mary, under the appellation “Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.”
In 1717, Baclayon became a parish and the architecture of the new structure had begun. The Jesuits were coerced to vacate the vicinity and transfer to Loboc due to their great apprehension to be attacked by Moro bandits. The construction of the Baclayon Basilica employed 200 laborers to build the church using coral stones, which they hauled from the sea and then carefully cut into square blocks. They also used bamboo to lift and to move the stones into place. They then mounded them like bricks and cemented the stones together using a million egg whites.
The historical church was completed in the year 1727 and had acquired a huge bell in 1835. Presently, the original stone structure of the parish can still be seen in Tagbilaran, Bohol, Philippines.
The church has a small museum which houses some of the most valued millennium-old religious artifacts and other antiquities, such as the old gold embroidered ecclesiastical vestments, remnants of St. Ignatius of Loyola, life-size statues, a crystal chandelier, a silver tabernacle, librettos of church music written in Latin on sheep skins and books with carabao skin covers. The cuadro paintings of Liberato Gatchalian, a Filipino painter, are also available for viewing.
The church's facade is a merging of two different styles: the classic San Ignacio elements that the Jesuits followed and the arcade of Roman arches and a plain upper storey and pediment. Baclayon Church is made of coral stone and its layout is cruciform, in the manner of many Christian churches. An even-sided cupola sits atop the church's crossing point, constructed from tablique. Light touches of Muslim influence can be noted in the pinted arched windows that flank the central saint's niche, the subtle jigsaw details of the raking cornice, carved cross beams at the nave, and the bell tower ornamentations.
- Baclayon Church. (Accessed on 27 December 2009).
- Baclayon Church: A Trace of Religious History in Bohol. Philippine Insider. (Accessed on 27 December 2009).
- Blog Catalog. (Accessed on 27 December 2009).
- Galende, Pedro G. Philippine Church Facades. Quezon City: Filipiniana.net, 2007.