by Stacy Tan
“Let’s visit the church of Our Lady of Assumption!” I excitedly suggested.
“Okay, let’s add that to our list. After all, it is a must that we visit at least one church there,” replied Jorge in a mix of English and Filipino.
Indeed, a trip to Bohol cannot be complete without visiting at least one of its numerous stone churches. They are not hard to miss considering that nearly all 47 of the towns in Bohol have one. Founded by Jesuits as early as 1595 and then taken over by the Augustinian Recollects upon the expulsion of Jesuits in 1768, these churches are rich with much local culsture. For these reason, they serve as historical landmarks which are often found at the top of the tourist detinations list in Bohol. Amongst the popular ones is the Dauis Church.
DAUIS CHURCH, a.k.a. Our Lady of Assumption Church
For some strange reason, the church was deserted when we arrived there at around 1PM. There were only a few people outside the building. We didn’t let this deter us though and we continued on in our exploration. It took us some time to find an entrance to the church as the main doors were closed but luckily we found an open doorway at the side.
The interior of the church was predominantly of the shades of royal blue on the wall and gold among the frescoes painted on the ceiling of the church. There were no glass windows with colourful mosaics on them but above the window frames there had numerous paintings of angels and religious symbols. Definitely, it was not like the modern churches you’d find in Greenhills area wherein the building is air-conditioned, made of marble, and very well-kept. This is not to say that the Dauis Church was not well-kept. Rather, it had a very old feel about it—an ancient, historical and beautiful aura. Walking silently and surveying my surroundings, I could feel as though I was one with nature and history as the layout of the church served as reminder of the olden times. It is in fact, the first church I have seen with an actual wooden pulpit. Two antique-looking confessionals were also found at the back area of the church, near the main entrance.
Personally, what largely attracted me to the church is its famous healing well. Sadly, my groupmates and I went around the church but we weren’t able to find it. I’m not certain if we just overlooked it, perhaps. Supposedly, the water in the well possessed healing powers through the miracle of the church’s patron saint—after whom it is also named after—the Virgin of Assumption (the church is also popularly known as the "Our Lady of Assumption Church") Legend has it that once, when the town was besieged by pirates, the townspeople locked themselves in the church to seek refuge. Eventually, when provisions and water ran out, a miraculous event occurred. A well suddenly materialized at the foot of the altar. What was further amazing was the quality of the water. It was very pure in spite of the well’s closeness to the seashore. Today, the well serves as a main source of water for the people living nearby the church. It is interesting to note that this very same water is also rumoured to have healing properties. Pilgrims visit the church, a pilgrim site now, to bring home a bottle of this miraculous water.
• It is one of the two major attractions in the municipality of Dauis. The other being the Hinagdanan cave.
• It has been constructed over four times already. The fifth one, the modern one, was constructed by Fr. Julio Saldana in 1863. On the principal arcade above the frieze, Saldana’s name can still be read—written on it—in spite of the many renovations the church has had.
• The church’s interior has some impressive frescoes on the ceiling painted by Ray Francia in 1916.
• Considered as one of the most beautiful churchest in Bohol, the Dauis church has one of the most sophisticated and complex structures of its kind in the province. It is, in fact, built according to a plan for basilica’s.
• The main altar isn’t fixed to the ground. It actually has wheels and can be moved around.
The church is a nice three-kilometer walk from Tagbilaran city. Alternatively, you may catch a tricycle or jeepney to bring you across.