January 25, 2011
JEREMY BARNS, director of the National Museum of the Philippines, declared the Parish Churches of Nuestra Senora de la Luz and Immaculada Concepcion de la Virgen Maria in Loon and Baclayon, Bohol as National Cultural Treasures on December 6 and 7, 2010 respectively. Participated in by the religious sector, local officials, parishioners, government officials, employees and students the public declarations were graced by the Most Reverend Leonardo Y. Medroso, Bishop of Tagbilaran, Gov. Edgar Chatto and Mayor Lloyd Peter Lopez.
The Diocese of Tagbilaran through Father Milan Ted Torralba, executive secretary of the Permanent Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, petitioned the National Museum of the Philippines to declare the two churches as National Cultural Treasures because of its high level of authenticity and integrity, and outstanding national value of the entire cultural and artistic assemblage.
The present coral stone church of Nuestra Señora de la Luz was built in Loon by the Spanish Augustinian Recollect José García de la Virgen de los Remedios, from 1854 to 1888, which is considered today as the glory of Recollect architecture on the island and in the region; and one of the largest, grandest and finest churches in the Visayas. The outstanding feature of the church is the façade, exhibiting baroque characteristics and flanked by twin bell towers and presented in a dramatic way because of its detailed sensually undulating lines of the cornices and surfaces grandly presiding over the ample plaza in front of it.
The Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish Complex has the elements of an ideal church plan: twin bell towers, a wall-enclosed patio or plaza, a casa parroquial, fortifications, bulwarks, morada, and a circular old cemetery, all these are perfectly set amidst a landscape of verdant mountain range to the east and the seascape to the west providing a resonant rhythm of built structures and open spaces.
Considered today as the best-preserved Jesuit stone church in the country, the present cruciform coral stone church de arquitectura mestiza of the Parish Church of Immaculada Concepcion de la Virgen Maria in Baclayon was erected in 1727 by the Jesuit doctrineros. In 1777, the Augustinian Recollects took over and completed the several structures in the succeeding years, such as, watchtower, kota, octagonal baptistery, mortuary chapel, casa parroquial, and classical-style portico-façade; and replaced the decrepit tile (teja) roof of the church and casa parroquial with galvanized iron.
Like the Loon Church, the Immaculada Concepción de la Virgen Maria Parish Complex has the elements of an ideal church plan: bell tower, a wall-enclosed patio or plaza, a casa parroquial, fortifications, bastion and escuelas parallel to the church, all these are perfectly set amidst a landscape of verdant mountain range to the north and the seascape to the south providing a resonant rhythm of built structures and open spaces.
Besides its outstanding physical features, these parish churches have outstanding social and spiritual significance to the community of faith. This is demonstrated by cultural, social and spiritual expressions that provide evidence of a community’s strong affection for the church that contributes to the community’s identity and social unity.