Taal Basilica was first built in 1575 near Taal Lake in present-day San Nicolas. The construction was led by Fr. Diego Espinar under the Augustinians with San Martin de Tours as their patron saint. The church has been improved for centuries since 1575, but was massively destroyed by the 200-day eruption of the Taal Volcano in 1754 which has also devastated the whole town of old Taal.
When the town moved to its current location on top of a hill that overlooks Balayan Bay, the construction of a new church was launched by Fr. Martin Aguirre. Alas, after decades of construction, another tragedy hit the town; this time, an earthquake, which destroyed the church yet again.
Four years later, another church was built at the same site and was led by Fr. Marcos Anton. Fr. Anton commissioned Architect Luciano Oliver to design and run the construction. Fast forward to 1878, the construction was finally complete. Under Fr. Agapito Aparicio, a 79 ft altar was added to the original plan. It was the largest church at the time.
It wasn’t until 1974 that it was declared as one of the country’s National Shrines. To this day, Taal Basilica remains to be the largest church in Asia.
Located in the town of Dauis in the island of Panglao, the church is also known as The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption. It was built in August 1923 and is one of the most sophisticated and complex structures of its kind in Bohol. Dauis church is said to have been built according to a plan for basilicas which explains the church’s high central nave flanked by lower aisles.
Built in 1596, this majestic structure is the second oldest church in the Philippines. The church is built out of coral stones mixed with thousands of egg whites as cement.
One of its most interesting and intriguing feature was the famous column wall at the back of the church where locals said that an image of Padre Pio mysteriously appeared. Sadly, when Typhoon Odette hit numerous islands in the Philippines in 2021, Bohol was one of the islands where the typhoon made its landfall and Baclayon Church was badly damaged, destroying the said column wall at the same time. Today, the church has been successfully and fully restored, but the image of Padre Pio is nowhere in sight.
Churches, temples, or any structure that is built for worship has piqued my interest over the short time that I was able to travel. These structures have not only been a place of worship, but a place where people get their courage and strength to push through with life. It’s amazing how our beliefs, no matter how different, lead us to the light.
Throughout my visits to various churches, temples, and mosques, I have realized that no matter how different we think our beliefs are, they are almost always the same because it all boils down to one thing: We believe in a greater and higher being; we believe in God.