Archive for January 28th, 2008

28
Jan
08

Baclayon Church • Baclayon, Bohol

The fortified parish church of La Inmaculada Concepcion de la Virgen Maria.

Bohol played an important role in the history of the Visayas because it was on this island at a spot known as Bo-ol, between Tagbilaran City and Baclayon that Miguel Lopez de Legazpi forged a blood compact with the local leader Katunaw (Sikatuna) in 1565. The forging of friendly relations was timely and strategically important since the memory of an earlier attack in 1562 or 63 by Ternateños under the leadership of the Portuguese, who posed as Castilians, was still fresh. Coming to Bohol in the guise of trade, the foreigners destroyed a village built on stilts on the shallow Dauis Channel formed by the islands of Bohol and Panglao. As a result of this attack, many Boholanos fled to Baclayon, even to northern Mindanao, specifically to Dapitan.

Bo-ol, now marked by a historical marker and a heroic monument by national artist, Napoleon V. Abueva, a native of Clarin, Bohol, faces this narrow channel. Peaceful relations with the inhabitants of the islands, which Legazpi was mandated to colonize, was necessary. While the Christian faith had been preached earlier in Bohol by a Portuguese priest, Francisco de Castro, evangelization was not thorough nor systematic. So Doña Catalina de Bolaños, mother of the encomendero of the island, Pedro de Gamboa, asked the Jesuits in Cebu to evangelize the island. A chapel had already been built for the encomienda’s Christian residents, when Juan de Torres and Gabriel Sanchez arrived in November 1596. Their first mission was at Baclayon, probably the center of the encomienda. Then moving up the Loboc River, Sanchez arrived at a trading station, Loboc, where he successfully gathered fourteen scattered villages into a compact reduccion. The Jesuits later travelled north to Talibon(g) where another station was founded.

To administer this territory, which over the centuries had more and more mission stations and later parishes, the Jesuits chose a central house or residencia. From this administrative center, pairs of missionaries would be sent to different parts of the island, returning to the center after their round of duties and gathering as a large group twice a year for prayer, recollection and study. Baclayon was chosen as the first residencia.

In 1621, the Jesuits of the Visayas gathered in Cebu to celebrate the canonization of Sts. Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier. During their absence a revolt broke out known as the “diwata revolt” because it was ignited by stories that the ancient spirit deities or diwata had appeared in the mountains inviting the Boholanos to flee from the towns and reducciones of the Spaniards. There in the mountain forests they would be free from taxes and other exactions of colonial rule. Besides, the spirits promised abundant rice and victuals for all. Except for Baclayon and Loboc, the rest of Bohol’s town apostized. The revolt was lead by a local babailan or shaman named Tamblot so the revolt is also called Tamblot revolt.

This revolt may have galvanized the need to fortify Baclayon besides its location exposed it to seaborne raiders. Jesuit chroniclers assert that the fortification of churches in the Visayas began in Leyte in the 1630s under the direction of Melchor de Vera, SJ, who was responsible for fortifying Zamboanga also in the same era. Perhaps by the mid-17th century Baclayon was already fortified. For further safety, the Jesuits moved the residencia inland to Loboc. This placed the mission superior in a safer position from which to orchestrate the works of evangelization.

Writing in 1754, Delgado reports the existence of a “fortaleza” and stone “baluarte” at Baclayon. He describes the fort as quadrilateral and notes that the Jesuits preferred to live in the baluarte beside the sea rather than in the convento, enclosed by walls as it was more salubrious. Only in times of alarm did the Jesuits retire to the safety of the fort.

When the Jesuits left in 1768 and administration transferred to the Recollects thereafter, the Recollects inherited a cruciform church, with an extension at the epistle transept that served as living quarters, a base for a belltower, which may have served as a forward fortification, a fort and a smaller baluarte by the sea. The first act of the Recollects was to complete the bell tower, which was completed on 20 May 1777 and dedicated to San Andres the patronal namesake of Fray Andres de Santissima Trinidad OAR, who was parish priest from 1775 to 1787.

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28
Jan
08

Castillo del Corazon de Jesus • Dauis, Bohol

Behind the present church and near the sacristy is a hexagonal watchtower with the coat of arms of the Recollects and the date 1774. This tower was commissioned by the Recollect friar Santiago del Corazon de Jesus. It is coeval with the Baclayon belltower, which the Recollects completed after the Jesuits were expelled from the Philippines in 1768. “Locals call the tower ‘castillo del Corazon de Jesus’: possibly after its builder, could it be could it have something to do with the heart pierced by an arrow (symbol of the Augustinians) that appears with the year [when the tower was constructed]” (Jose, 2001: 45).

To visualize properly the position of this tower relative to the church and convento, it must be borne in mind that the present church of Dauis was not standing. Instead the area was an empty space and a free space stood between the tower and the fortification.

The tower has a clear view of the Dauis Strait and presently houses some church bells of which two, dated 1783 are two of the three oldest bells in Bohol, the oldest (1690) is in Calape church (Jose, Ibid.)

28
Jan
08

Balilihan Belltower • Balilihan, Bohol

This quadrilateral tower of cut coral stone is located on a hill beside the church.  The tower has a command of the Abatan River and, despite the florid ornamentation of the upper register, the tower had obvious military functions.  It is recorded that slave raider traveled inland to attack communities along riverbanks prompting the need to construct in land defenses.  The tower is in poor condition.  The wooden stairway to the top has deteriorated and some of the carved stones have fallen.  A small chapel has been built beside the tower.  The hill on which the tower is built is a park, reforested with tropical hardwood.

The history of the Balilihan tower is intimately linked with the town and parish organized in 1829 to accommodate 2100 “returnees” who had fled to the hinterland during the Dagohoy revolt, which erupted in 1744. The revolt against Spanish rule attracted many followers. Although by 1768, the backbone of the rebellion was broken and the rebels invited to return to Batuanan (presently Alicia), many continued to live in the hinterlands of Bohol until 1827 and 1828, when a major military action was launched against them with troops brought from Bohol, including the fabled warriors under Fray Julian Bermejo, OSA, who had effectively stopped slave raids in southern Cebu through his string of forts and watchtower, his armada of native vessels and army of volunteers and sentinels. 

To accommodate the returnees, Balilihan was established by separating it from Baclayon. The choice of a site halfway between the hinterlands and the coast was probably a compromise to full reintegration with the towns of origin of the returnees. The 1840 tower, which had a commanding view of both upstream and downstream, was much built to guard against sea borne raiders and potential attacks from the hinterland from others who had not reintegrated with the colonial towns. Jose suggests that the tower was built “to toll the hours of mass to the settlers (as well as the rebels) who were scattered over a hilly area” (Jose, 2003: 31).

Cut coral stone was brought from Baclayon all the way to Balilihan to build this tower.

The present church at Balilihan belongs to the 20th century. An earlier church and convento were built on the opposite bank where the present church is located. Jose as identified some stones “which could have belonged to these religious structures.” However, both were damaged by a typhoon in 1863. Redondo reports that a church and convento of tabique and nipa had been built, but this time it was on the present site of Balilihan. The destruction in 1863 may have occasioned the transfer. The structures were renovated in 1889. Tragically, Americans razed the town in November 1900 to the dismay of the populace, who welcomed the American troops complete with a brass band. A church was subsequently built in concrete in the early decades of the 20th century (See Jose 2003: 30).

28
Jan
08

Castillo de San Vicente Ferrer • Punta Cruz, Maribojoc, Bohol

This triangular fort, has a roofed second storey designed as a hexagon. The windows above and below open to the Bohol Sea, and on a clear day Siquijor island and southeast Cebu are visible. The fort has the inscription Castillo de San Vicente Ferrer and the date 1796 in stone relief above the entrance. The stone inscription is greatly abraded and damaged otherwise the fort is in good condition. Consolidation of the upper floor is necessary because the molave timber supporting the lime floor is rotting. The fort is in a park, said to be the site where the first Jesuit missionaries landed.

28
Jan
08

El Invincible Obando • Mobo, Masbate

In 1569, the island of Masbate and its neighbors, Burias and Ticao fell under Spanish control with its conquest by Luis Enriquez de Guzman, under Capt. Andres de Ibarra.  Fray Alonso Jimenez, OAR began to preach the Gospel in Masbate immediately thereafter.  In 1605, the province of Santissimo Nombre de Jesus established a mission composed of the three islands and assigned Fray Francisco Guerrero, OAR to instruct the people in the Christian faith.  In 1609, the Recollects ceded the mission to the secular clergy of Nueva Caceres (Naga) upon instruction of the bishop, Pedro de Arce.  For the succeeding decades, the secular clergy continued to administer the mission but because of a decline in population (from 250 families in 1609 to even less than that) due to frequent raids, the islands could not raise enough revenues for the sustenance of one parish priest.

On May 1682, Fray Andres Gonzales, OP, who succeeded to the see of Naga, petitioned the king for friars to be sent to the islands.  The king consented and issued a decree dated 13 August 1685.  The governor general appraised of the king’s decree, declared that the Recollects should take charge not only of Masbate but also of some towns in Luzon.  However, the Recollects decided that the Luzon villages would be better attended by the Franciscan’s whose territory it was, decided to accept Masbate.  When they arrived there was but one secular priest left in the whole island.  Masbate was in the crossroads of shipping lanes as ships from Luzon bound for Caraga or Cebu, or bound for Acapulco, Mexico stopped at Masbate for water supplies.  The Recollects saw Masbate’s strategic importance.

In 1688 the Recollects returned in Masbate in the person of Fray Juan de San Felipe, former provincial, and Fray Juan de Encarnacion and a third friar.  They met Don Christobal Carvallo, the parish priest in Ticao, and he graciously surrendered the administration to them.  On 2 September of the same year, Don Cristobal turned over Mobo, then the chief village of Masbate.  In Mobo, the friars founded a convent in honor of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios.  The church they built is described as “abound(ing) in reredoes and other adornments with a sacristy provided with vestment …and ornaments” and the house as “capacious” (BR 41:218).  Masbate was one of many sparsely populated islands whose coves and islets were conveniently used by seafaring raiders as temporary lairs and strongholds.  From such sally points raids were conducted along the Bicol coast and the neighboring Visayan Island.  To contain these raiders and to strengthen Spanish presence may be the reasons why in 1752, the Recollect Fray Lucas de Castro had a fortress built.  From existing sketches of it the fort was a formidable structure.  It was quadrilateral, had an inner wall and a tall tower similar to a donjon or castle keep that served as living quarters.  Protruding bastions were of the orillon type.  And the whole structure was built on a hill to further enhance its defensive potentials. 

It was demolished by order of the governor general, the Marquis de Obando, because it poorly constructed.  Subsequently, the townsite of Mobo was abandoned and the population transferred elsewhere.  The majority moved to Masbate.

A photograph dated 1937 with the caption Castillo titulado “El Invincible Obando” construido en Masbate, I.F., por el P. LUCA DE LA CRUZ, A. Recoleto is in the photo archives of FHL no. AR00845. The photograph is apparently mislabelled as the photograph depicts a convento or a large house.

28
Jan
08

Bagatao Naval Yard and Watchtower • Bagatao Island, Sorsogon

When trade between Manila and Acapulco was established in 1565 with the successful journey of a ship sent by Legazpi from Manila, the Spanish military sought for places that would serve as shipyards. In the Spanish navy looked for possible sites to build the galleons. These sites were characterized by safe harbors, a supply of hardwood and easy access for laborers. Until the consolidation of shipbuilding activity in Cavite, various sites were used as shipyards or as repair and rest stations namely, Cebu, Iloilo, Palapag in Samar and Bagatao an island off the coast of Sorsogon. The astillero de Bagatao was established in a place now called San Miguel. The shipyard functioned for about seven decades but by the mid-17th century it had been abandoned. Its exposure to seaborne raiders rendered the site vulnerable. A watchtower was built before 1616. 

Today nothing is left of the shipyard. Its present site is under the Philippine Navy and has a lighthouse.

José lists a baluarte built at Bagatao Island, the site of a royal shipyard.  Bagatao is at the mouth of Sorsogon Bay and faces Ticao Island. Insufficient data regarding the fortification of Bagatao.

28
Jan
08

Watchtowers of Iloilo • Guimbal, Tigbauan, Miagao

Of five towers built along the shore, three remain.  “Iloilo visitor’s guide” DOT, 1995: 39 says “29 kms. southwest of Iloilo City; 5 stone watchtowers called ‘bantayan’ by the natives (were built) during the Spanish era to warn the townspeople of marauding pirates.”

 These watchtowers were most likely built in the late-18th century. 

Of the remaining watchtowers—two cylindrical, one octagonal—of yellowish volcanic tuff, the same material used for Miagao church still stand near the shore. Two are within the town proper, at Barangay Colon and Pescador. The third is near the boundary of Tigbauan and Guimbal inside RASCO Resort. All are badly restored with synthetic stone finish. and the addition of an external steel ladder and a light post on the towers’

upper stories.

 The watchtower at Colon was already leaning on its side, caused by storm surge and tidal erosion, when it was restored by the Department of Tourism around 1984.

A fourth watchtower, remodelled as barangay hall is in Miagao at Barangay Baybay. Town lore gives the year 1760 as the date of construction. The watchtower was repaired and remodelled in 1994.