Panglao Tower • Panglao, Panglao Island, Bohol

Redondo’s 1886 reports states that Panglao parish was established in 1803. Whether Panglao as a mission station or a reduccion already existed before that date is uncertain because both town and island are named Panglao. Thus, when the name Panglao appears in a 1612 document it is uncertain if the town or the island is being referred to. If the island, the town referred might be Dauis.

Within the Panglao church complex are the ruins of an earlier church, which despite the Baroque touches to the façade is dated to the 19th century. Inscribed over the main entrance is the date 1858 or 1859. Jose writes “the rest of the nave consisted of wooden posts and tabique walls which have since disappeared. It seems that his earlier church extended all the way until where the convento now stands. One wing of the convento would have continued the axis of the church, as we see in Cortes and possibly in the earlier church at Dauis” (Jose 2001: 87). This means that the convento is older that the present church at Panglao. Part of the convento is now a parish school, San Agustin Academy.

The present cruciform church of Panglao began construction under Valentin Utande, OAR (parish priest 1894-1897). Wood needed for the structure had to be procured from Sevilla and Loboc, inland towns in Bohol and had to be floated downstream and across the sea to Panglao. The scarcity of suitable construction material may be the reason why the church was still being constructed up to the second decade of the 20th century, when the greater part of the nave was completed. Stone facing, however, was not completed and the apse and transept lack the coral stones that sheathed Bohol churches. The church was consecrated by Bishop Juan Gorordo of Cebu on 1 September 1924, while a native secular priest Quiterio Sarigumba was parish priest. A portico facade of poured concrete was added to the church façade and has the initials of Padre Sarigumba—P.Q.S. A cement walk leading to the main entrance also is also inscribed P.Q.S. with the date 1925.

The history of Panglao church clearly shows that the five-story tower is not related to any of the dated constructions in the church complex. It antedated the ruined church by seven or eight years. This suggests that the tower belonged to an earlier era. Perhaps there was an pre-1850 church of light material. This  five-storey bell tower is located at some distance from both church structures and its proximity to the shore, now far more distant because of mangrove and coconut growth, suggest that it also doubled it served as watchtower. This corroborated by local oral tradition. Jose writes:  “A stone watchtower stands guard over the edge of the sea, a short distance behind the church.  Reputedly Bohol’s tallest, the ponderous structure bears the year 1851 inside its lowest chamber.  Its hexagonal plan is rare in the Philippines” (Jose 1998). In Visita, Jose adds: “interestingly another hexagonal tower stands in Dauis, on the opposite side of this island (built 1774)” (Jose 2001: 88; also See 07-40).

The structure is in poor condition.  The wood members have all deteriorated and there is no access to the top floor because the wooden stairway that leads up has disappeared. The stone walls bulges outwards showing signs of structural stress and deterioration and the tile roof has caved in allowing rain and moisture to enter. This creates an environment conducive to the growth of algæ and vegetation.


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