Thursday, October 17, 2013

Baclayon Church (Bohol)

I am really saddened by the news reports on how a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol and Cebu leaving dozens of people dead and destroying heritage sites.

The Baclayon Church is one of the heritage churches in Bohol that was heavily damaged after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the island on October 15, 2013. The church's structure was built from coral stones with egg-white used as cement.( Photo taken on July 2013)
We offer our sincere prayers for the people of Bohol and Cebu. As I was watching the news, my heart bled. It is a fortuitous event and no one is to be blamed. Yet traumatic events described as an “act of God” is beyond human comprehension, not as to its scientific cause, but as to why catastrophic events should take place.

I have re-visited Bohol and Cebu only this July 2013. I marveled at its heritage sites. Its churches have been in existence for several centuries. I have seen the efforts of the people of Bohol and Cebu to preserve their historical and cultural treasures. By just looking at these churches, I can see how fragile they are. The passing of centuries cannot be denied to have taken its toll on these churches and preserving them has become an arduous and challenging endeavor.

When I visited the Baclayon Church in Bohol, I have witnessed the toil of preserving this more than a century old cultural edifice. Everything is fragile. Even without meticulous scrutiny of its structure, it is easy to conclude that the church has slim chances of surviving another century nor withstanding another earthquake. A mere look at its walls and I am convinced that it is very vulnerable to calamities particularly that may be brought about by the moving of the earth’s tectonic plates.

Baclayon Church is a very beautiful church. This church is like a time a machine bringing every visitor back to Spanish Times. The cultural treasures Baclayon Church protects are priceless and irreplaceable.  The church is not only a monument nor a cold edifice but a historical account of our life during Spanish times. I was truly mesmerized by its collections of religious artifacts. Every corner of the church is a magnificent account of Philippine history.

A trip to Bohol can never be complete without visiting Baclayon Church. The news that a magnitude 7.2 earthquake has devastated the island and ruined Baclayon Church is truly heartbreaking.  The time, money and expense to preserve this church have been put to waste in an instant.  I know that Baclayon Church with its aged foundations cannot withstand an earthquake of such magnitude.

In my lifetime, I have visited Baclayon Church only thrice including my recent visit last July. But, this church has left such an imprint in my heart that I always prayed that is preserved for posterity and possibly for eternity. I cannot forget the first time I have visited Bohol and saw the beauty of this church. As I gazed at the church’s ceiling and walked at its museum’s floor of hardwood, I was totally stunned by its archaic beauty.

After the earthquake, I felt privileged to have seen the original beauty of Baclayon Church. It is a herculean task, if not a totally impossible goal, to bring back the church into its original state. But what the earthquake has destroyed is nothing but a portion of the church’s structure. No earthquake could weaken the spirit of the faithful and the people of Bohol. 

I may never see Baclayon Church as I first saw it before, yet I know that the next time I had the opportunity to visit Bohol, I would be greeted by a much stronger church represented by its people.

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