Dauis Fortification • Dauis, Panglao Island, Bohol

Delgado reports a stone fort and baluarte in Dauis built during the Jesuit era. Oral tradition locates this on the grassy field adjacent to the epistle side of the church. The reported site of fort from Jesuit times is adjacent to the convento. Using Delgado as a time marker, we can surmise that the fortifications was built by the 18th century. Most likely it was the work of Joseph Nepomuceno, SJ.

The shallow Dauis Channel was the site of a pre-colonial village built on stilts.  Prior Spanish colonization, this village was attacked by a combined force of Portuguese and Ternateños who came disguised as traders.  The result was the dispersion of the survivors.  Some went to Baclayon to found a settlement there, while others took refuge in Dapitan in Northern Zamboanga. As this experience had shown, Dauis Channel was vulnerable to attack. So its defense was essential for the security of the settlements along the seacoast.

The history of Dauis fortification is intimately tied with the history of its church building.

Jose notes a discrepancy between the local historians’ list of parish priests in Dauis, which begins with the year 1679 and Javellana’s statement that the Jesuits assigned a permanent missionary to Dauis in 1697. Recollect historian Cavada says that the parish was founded in 1720. This lack of unanimity indicates that there is no clear indication when the parish was established, although Redondo’s 1886 survey says that the oldest canonical record known to him was a libro de bautismo that began on 20 January 1697, suggesting that the 1697 date might be the correct one.

In 1735, Jesuits moved the residencia at Lóboc to Dauis. What precipitated this move is uncertain, perhaps, Lóboc was considered inconvenient. Although not remote it took some doing to sail upstream and perhaps at this period, when construction in stone and mortar was done in earnest (what de la Costa calls the “golden age” of Jesuit church building) the Jesuits were confident that they could fortify Dauis, even though it was in a coastal area. In 1753, Joseph Nepomuceno, SJ is recorded as building a church, that replaced an earlier one of light material, which Jose surmises “may have been built before 1692” (Jose, 2001, Visita p. 43). The following year Jose Delgado SJ reports the presence of a stone fort and baluarte at Dauis.

The Recollects took charge of Bohol in 1768, and in 1769 is reported to have built another church. This suggests that the 1753 church was in ruins. It may have been built of light material as resources were concentrated on fortifying the complex. It is quite possible that it was damaged by fire, typhoon or earthquake, although regarding earthquakes Repetti does not report an earthquake hitting Bohol between 1750 and 1770 (1946: 166-168). While authoritative and based on primary sources, Repetti’s list is dependent on sources, known not to be complete. In 1795, this church burnt and a fourth was built, which is described in Redondo as made of tabique  and nipa. The church was located along the same axis as the present convento and formed a continuous line between church and convento, forming an I-plan rather than more usual L or U. Jose postulates that this fourth church is the one depicted in the 1920s ceiling painting over the convento’s sala.

This fourth church was still standing when Fray Julio Saldaña, OAR (parish priest 1861-98) began a new church in 1863. According to Redondo this fifth church measured one meter longer than the fourth church, nine meters  wider and six meters taller. By 1879, Saldaña commemorated the completion of the first level of the façade by inscribing the date 1879 and his name above the principal arcade. This part was in the neogothic style. In 1884, disaster hit the church when the four arches supporting the cupola collapsed.

Work on the church continued to the 20th century. Fr. Natalio del Mar completed the façade in the early 1920s and Bishop Juan Gorordo of Cebu consecrated the church in 23 August 1923. Work continued and a year later a cross over the pediment was installed. The section built during the Spanish era can be clearly distinguished from 20th century additions, the lower part is made of stone and lime mortar and the upper section of cement. Only one of the two belltowers was completed. 

Nothing remains of the Jesuit- built fortification, although Javellana has suggested that the low wall bordering the plaza near the apse may have been part of the fortification. The rough and large coral blocks used for the convento suggest that the convento or parts of it may have come from Jesuit times. 



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