A history of Baclayon

Baclayon played a prominent role in the history of Bohol since it was the first municipality ever to be established in the island by the Spaniards.

Baclayon then encompasses its present territory as well as those belonging now to the towns Corella, Sikatuna, Alburquerque, Balilihan and the City of Tagbilaran.

On November 17, 1595, two Jesuit priests, Fr. Juan de Torres and Fr. Gabriel Sanchez, left Cebu for Bohol to start the conversion of the villagers of Baclayon. Through hard work, patience and perseverance, the duo succeeded in winning the natives' confidence. With the people’s help, they built a big church, like a fort, with a belfry that served as a watchtower for spying the coming of the Muslim (Moro) raiders who used to come and wreck havoc on the people.

Baclayon, then being the residence of the Jesuit Superior General, was the “Residencia” or center of the Bohol missions. However, on October 26, 1600, Baclayon was raided by some 300 Maguindanao Moros in 50 war boats led by Datu Sali and Datu Sirongan. Fortunately, their coming was sighted through the belfry, and when the raiders arrived 3 to 4 hours later, the people were nowhere to be found except for 3 old women and an old man. The four were killed and then the raiders sailed away.

For fear of more raids, the “Residencia” was transferred to Loboc. Life in the settlement went on as usual and in a few years time, the population grew. In 1717, the settlement was raised to the status of a parish and construction of a new and sturdier church began. Through forced labor, 200 natives worked on the church until its completion in 1727.

Baclayon then became a thriving settlement with 1,600 taxpayers. Due to the very large area covered by Baclayon, the priests and Spanish officials find it hard to impose a tax-census and control the activities of the inhabitants. Also the natives who go to confession went over 8,000 and can no longer be accommodated inside the church premises.

Read more at bohol-philippines.com

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