The Baclayon Church, sits atop the original site of the first Catholic mission to Bohol and dates back to the 16th century. The simple cross-shaped church facing the Bohol Sea that visitors can see today is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It is fashioned from coral-stone block and was completed in 1727.
The church and its adjacent bell tower suffered major damage in the 7.2 earthquake that shook the region in 2013. A new red roof has been added and visitors can once again wander inside, taking in the ceiling frescoes around the altar, tiny saint figures tucked into its nooks, and a handful of glass-enclosed statues from the earliest days of the church. Renovations are ongoing.
Behind the church in the old convent, the Church Museum houses many of the building’s artifacts including gold-stitched vestments, hymnals bound in water buffalo skins and inscribed with plant-based inks, as well as additional saints, iconography and relics.
It’s just over six miles (10.2 km) from Tagbilaran City. Busses, jeepneys and tricycles make the trip and the church is included in a number of regional tours.
The Church Museum charges $1 (50.00 PHP) per person with funds directed toward the church’s restoration. It keeps daily hours (from 8:30am-4:45pm. Mon-Sat and from 9:30am-4:15pm Sun, though it closes for a break each day between 11:45am-1:30pm). Pictures are allowed inside the church, but not inside the church museum.