Saturday, February 28, 2015

Beauty within the rubble.

Dress: Princessa
Heels: ASOS
Watch: Nixon

Most of the time when I travel, I try to travel in style and not look like I'm living out of a suitcase. As opposed to what many people believe, style and comfort while travelling are not mutually exclusive. The Betsy ethnic dress from Princessa that I brought along with me on my trip to Philippines definitely kills two birds with one stone. The intricate embroidery and loud neon coral colour spices up the entire outfit while the really soft and light material makes it feel almost like I wasn't wearing anything. I've searched high and low for a drop waist dress but always hated how those I found were  too cute for my liking. This particular piece though, exudes a little sexiness with its tube top.

Country: Philippines, Bohol (Baclayon)
Location: Baclayon Church

With more than 86% of its population being Roman Catholic, Philippines proudly boasts as the third largest Catholic country in the world. It's no wonder why the country is peppered with churches. One of, if not the most, beautiful churches I've ever seen and my favourite thus far, is the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, commonly known as Baclayon Church. It is the second oldest church in Philippines with more than 400 years of existence and one of the best preserved Jesuit-built churches in the region.

The church was constructed by the first Spanish Jesuit missionaries, Fr. Juan de Torres and Fr. Gabriel Sanchez, shortly after their arrival in Baclayon in 1595. However, the fear of being mobbed by Moro marauders soon forced the Jesuits to move their headquarters to Loboc. It was not until the year 1717 when Baclayon was raised to the status of a parish and the construction of the church as it stands today commenced. The whole construction process took 200 native labourers a decade to complete. And here's the interesting part! Coral stones hauled from the sea were skilfully cut into square blocks and used to build the church. The coral blocks were then piled on top of each other using bamboo and cemented together with a million egg whites! EGG WHITES?! Who'd have thought that egg whites were actually one of the main ingredients used to build such a majestic architecture?!

In the following years, a 21 metre bell tower was added in 1835 and a dungeon was built within the compound to punish those who violated the Roman Catholic laws.

Next to the church is an old convent which houses a small museum filled with religious relics and other antique items dating back to the 16th century. Photography is strictly prohibited in the museum which explains the lack in photos.

Due to its rich historical and cultural value to the Filipinos, Baclayon Church was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in December 2010.

Unfortunately, Bohol was dealt a powerful blow by Mother Nature on 15 October 2013 in the form of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake which resulted in death tolls, and most definitely didn't spare many of its famous heritage sites. As iconic as the Chocolate Hills, the ancient stone churches were shook to their foundations. Baclayon Church was no different.

Almost one and a half years after the terrible earthquake, Bohol is still picking up the pieces of its heritage, quite literally. I'm sure Mother Nature has struck more than once, but the faith and devotion of the Boholanos is the reason why these churches rise from the ashes time and time again. They're more than buildings; they're the house of God where prayers are answered, where the weary gets rest, and where the weak finds strength.

I might've never seen Baclayon Church in its original state before the earthquake even though I've visited the church twice, yet there's so much beauty within the rubble, and its beauty doesn't seem to fade with each succeeding visit. On the contrary, this centuries-old architectural masterpiece and the stories behind it continues to captivate and fascinate me. So I highly recommend visiting Baclayon Church! It's about 6km east of Tagbilaran City. There're buses and jeepneys in Tagbilaran heading to Baclayon.

Photos by Ing
Editing by yours truly

"The church is the only institution supernaturally endowed by God. It is the one institution of which Jesus promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against it." -Chuck Colson

With love,
 photo f60ffb83-5a2a-48b4-a5c7-8c11e00d3d4a_zps00748fdb.jpg
Clarabelle Faith

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