Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bohol: Charm between the Rubble

It took me some time to write about our adventure in Bohol. Got all tangled up in the busy world of work and I lost my notebook. When I travel I always have a small notebook for doodles, thoughts and what-nots. And this is the first time I lost one for a long time. Darn!

So what can I say with Bohol?

As the whole world knows, Bohol suffered the 7.2 magnitude earthquake. I and Liezl, my perennial travel buddy and together with the new recruit Boni went there during the Holy Week. Liezl's elder sister, Ate Leah worked in Tagbiliran City (Bohol's capital) for Save the Children. After the earthquake disaster, there were a lot of international organizations that came in for reconstruction work.

There were volunteer works for rebuilding the houses and several strategic public infrastructure. What is most heartbreaking? The lives and livelihoods lost. And the community's soul in century-old churches. Churches split in half and turned into rubble. The Baclayon Church, known to many for the place where the Baclayon Childrens Choir made its debut and home of several historical activities split in half. Based on the final report, 7 churches totally destroyed and 21 were damaged. Ten churches of the island's churches have been declared as national cultural heritage, now reduced into rubble: 

1. San Pedro Church, Loboc (built in 17th C. by the Jesuits; paintings added in 20th c; Bohol's 2nd oldest Church.)

Baclayon Church

2. Immaculada Concepcion de la Virgen Maria, Baclayon (oldest church in the island, built in coral stnes and cemented by egg whites. It houses a museum with large collection of historic artifacts)
3. Nuestra Señora de la Luz, Loon, Bohol (locally known as BIrhen ng Kasilak Church; the biggest in the island, built by the Augustinian- Recollects in Corinthian style) 
4. Loay, Bohol (established in the 19th century, built from coral stones)
5. Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Dauis, Bohol (built by the Jesuits in various style; believed to have a well inside used by the residents during the war; water is viewed as miraculous). 
6. Parroquia de la Santa Cruz, Maribojoc, Bohol (another church built by the Jesuits in 19th century)

Right after the quake, there was an abuzz of disbelief that these churches were damaged, with nothing left to restore as all of it was pulverized As the National Historical Commission chief Maria Serena Diokno said churches form "part of the soul of the community."  There were a lot also who lamented that churches are structures, what is important are the lives of the people.  

There is an ongoing Help Rebuild Bohol Churches by the Diocese of Tagbilaran and the National Historical Institute (NHI). You can donate or be a volunteer, just click the link. 

When we were there, we're advised not to drink the water from local sources. Boil it first before drinking as water has been found out of e-coli. Water table moved. The shoreline of the beach in the municipality of Clarin for instance moved back with a width comparable to a football field. Reports also said that there was yellowish water that sprouted after immediately after the quake in October 15, 2013.

The waves used to be reach the rocks here
We stayed in Bohol for 5 days- quite a long time to relax, discern and also rekindle our faith. The procession during Good Friday was the longest and biggest I have ever seen in my entire life! People from all walks, including chidlren holding the rosary and singing the hymns. And after the procession, as we went back to the Church, there was a beeline to see the body of the dead Christ. What was nerve wracking was when the line broke out in haste to go to the carriage and get the flowers surrounding the body of Christ during the procession. There was crying, shouting, pushing and shoving. It was a frenzy..a show of devotion I never saw in real life. I only saw this kind in TV during the Black Nazarene. Was it desperation? Fanaticism? 

Procession from Dauis Church 

Procession at Tagbilaran Cathedral

Bohol is an island with lots of things to offer- not just the white sand beaches in Panglao, the Chocolate Hills, or the tarsiers. More so, it houses a lot historical memories, of deep-seated religion as well as revolution. I am interested with how revolutions started and how it ended. An uprising,led by Francisco Sendrijas alias Dagohoy was considered as the longest revolt, taking around 85 years (1744-1829) for the Spaniards to quell. Revolt was due to the forced labor (polo y sevicios). But it was triggered when the Jesuit priest Fr. Gaspar Morales, the Jesuit curate of Inabanga refused to give burial to Dagohoys brother (a constable who was ordered to capture one parishioner who left the church, and was killed in the process). Even after Dagohoy's death, his followers continued the fight. 

Tamblot on one hand, is one of the babaylans  who refused to follow Catholicism.Fr. Murillo Velarde recounted their attempts to quell the revolt in Historia de Filipinas and translated by Blair and Robertson, Vol. 38 (pp. 87-91). 

Sadly, the name Dagohoy is only relegated to a municipality and Tamblot, a small narrow street. It was never a part of the official, mainstream tours. And it is indeed a challenge for historians and tourism office to go beyond the usual tour sites. For rebuilding is not only structures as well as our memories of the past. 

What lingers with Bohol? The people's resilience and beautiful sunset. I was moved by the lola who dressed up the Crucifix. They continue the masses either in gyms or makeshift churches, rising to the so called "alternative Churches."  On the hindsight, aren't churches before are not big structures but anywhere we worship and commune together to celebrate the Word? 

As one lola said, "Ang among pagtuo dili gyud maguba (Our faith will never be destroyed)." 

For during typhoon or any disaster, our faith will help us survive.
Colorful banca at Loboc River

To have an undying burning passion of hundred Suns. :)

Thank you Ate Leah Bugtay for being a gracious host.
Good health for you always to continue your service. 



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