It Was Tested by a 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake: The Baclayon Church Today
Happy Saturday Hivers!
Similar to death, no one can escape natural calamities. Perhaps a typhoon is somewhat easier to prepare for compared to other natural calamities, as we usually have some time to prepare. Typhoons usually don't strike suddenly, unlike landslides and earthquakes which can hit in no time.
Maybe in some countries that have fully embraced technological advancements, they can detect earthquakes or landslides before they occur. However, here in the Philippines, I'm uncertain if we have that technology. From what I know, most places in the Philippines don't have access to such technology.
In 2013, Boholanos' faith, unity, and resilience were greatly tested by a strong earthquake. The strong earthquake was also felt in Cebu. The magnitude of the earthquake was recorded at 7.2 with the epicenter 6 kilometers off Sagbayan town. Both private properties and public infrastructures were greatly damaged, including Bohol's heritage churches and watchtowers. Loud cries of hope could be heard from Boholanos during that time.
Baclayon Church After the 2013 Earthquake
Looking at the ancient church that was devastated by a strong earthquake is truly a depressing sight. Although it has already been restored, reflecting on that time, I can feel the sadness the locals of Baclayon felt when they saw the church, with some parts broken into pieces.
Do you know the age of the church?
While looking at the church during my visit, I saw the church's history displayed on a board. According to it, the first mission of Christianity in Bohol was formally established in this area by Fathers Juan de Torres and Gabriel Sanchez, Jesuit priests. On November 17, 1596, the first church made of wood was dedicated to the Virgin Immaculada Conception and became a full-fledged parish in 1717. The present coral stone church was constructed in 1727 and was managed by the Augustinian Recollects. In 1768, a silver tabernacle was added to the main altar. In 1852, some modifications and repairs were made, but the original Neoclassical architecture using Roman arches and temple facades has been preserved to the present. This church was declared a national historical landmark on July 27, 1994.
One can truly understand why it was ruined during the strong earthquake because it was an already century-old church. But due to the unity of the Boholanos, the church has been successfully restored.
And how was it accomplished?
The Restoration and Reconstruction Program
When I visited the Bohol National Museum a few weeks ago, there was a regular-sized room exclusive for the 2013 earthquake incidents. It displayed some broken pieces from the ancient churches, including photos taken after the incident, the steps they had undertaken to restore the ancient churches and watchtowers, and the history itself.
Since these churches were considered heritage sites, experts from the National Museum recommended that, the cultural properties should be restored as closely to their original design as possible.
The reason why they created the restoration and reconstruction program is that, according to them, this is to ensure that the rebuilding and restoration efforts are done in an orderly and efficient manner.
They even used a 3D high-definition laser scanner. According to what I have read at the Bohol National Museum, the structure was scanned using a high-definition laser scanner to provide an accurate architectural plan in two-dimensional and three-dimensional perspectives. The plans were carefully studied in preparation for the proposed restoration work. Below are the steps outlining how the rebuilding and restoration were completed.
One of the ancient churches that underwent restoration is Baclayon Church. Now, let us compare Baclayon Church before the 2013 earthquake and its current appearance.
This is a photo of Baclayon Church before the strong earthquake hit Bohol in 2013.
The Current Appearance of Baclayon Church
The first time I set foot on Bohol island was in 2012, a year before the strong earthquake hit hard in Bohol. Baclayon Church was one of the spots we had visited before. However, I lost all my photos. After a few years, here I am, visiting again one of the heritage churches affected during the 2013 earthquake.
Since this is one of the most visited spots in Bohol, it's nearly impossible to take photos without any photobombers, especially on weekends. Actually, when I visited there just recently, many tourists had already gathered by the time I arrived.
I stayed a little far from the church so I could see and compare its appearance before it was damaged. I had the photo in my hand. Lacking knowledge about architecture, I could hardly differentiate its current appearance from its appearance before the 2013 earthquake. To me, they appeared to be just the same.
Then I went closer to it, but they still looked the same as the original one.
Maybe what the experts from the Bohol National Museum aimed for during the creation of the reconstruction and restoration program was achieved to a great extent. They wanted the ancient churches to be restored as closely to their original design as possible. Seeing the new appearance of Baclayon Church, it is not different from its original design.
As much as I wanted to go inside the church, it was impossible because the church was closed. So, I just strolled around until I reached the other side of the church.
Who would have thought that this belfry was damaged during the earthquake? When you look at it, it seems like nothing happened.
It has been almost 10 years since the tragedy. Despite the ordeal, Baclayon Church still stands on the same ground because of Boholanos' unity and eagerness to restore the church. Although some of the original materials couldn't be mended and reused for the church, what's important is that this church was restored, and the locals were able to use it again.
Thank you for reading and see you on my next blog. Cheers!
Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.
Note: I use Grammarly to help me check and fix grammar.
Namaste! I am fond of reading books, watching korean, american and filipino series/movies and I am also fond of gardening. I love listening to different life stories and I am always captivated with the beauty of nature so travel is my escape when life turns into blue. But hey, how could I forget my photography hobby? It is one of the best, so follow me as I will be featuring my experiences of the stuff that I am passionate with.