Loon Church is considered to be the biggest church in the entire island province of Bohol. I don’t have the stats but this century-old church indeed is huge! It was a surprise seeing this treasure on a high noon that Eastern Sunday, never realizing that only a few months later, it will implode to rubble along three souls that October morning.
The coastal town of Loon is located about an hours drive from Tagbilaran City. I arrived from Maribojoc that noon, on my way to Tubigon while doing my late visita iglesia that Easter Sunday. I was surprised how massive the church and its grounds were. Welcoming me was an arch, which by the way is fronting what seems to be a watch tower!
I gazed up and took photos of Loon Church as if there wasn’t any tomorrow. It was a hot day, but all worth it.
Loon Church is the seat of the town’s patroness, Our Lady of Light or Birhen sa Kasilak in native language. The second patron is San Jose Obrero.
The native Bol-anons and the Jesuits built the first church in 1753 which was later transferred to the Agustinian Recolects when they were exiled from the colony. The first church was burned to the ground in the 1850s, except for the façade. The reconstruction started in 1855 which lasted for almost a decade using Domingo Escondrillas’ design.
It has become one of the garrisons of the American colonizers during the Fil-Am War in 1901.
This massive baroque church has a treasure inside—the ceiling paintings of Cebuano artist, Ray Francia. I was looking above the heavens, este the ceilings again. The main ceiling, along with the altar and the side areas, are adorned with Biblical scenes. However, when I gazed up again, I saw some parts are deteriorating, others falling down. I then said, I hope the parish and the governments are fast enough to save these…but now it is too late.
The church was declared a national historical/heritage site in 2010.
It was a quick visit to Loon. It was a good decision to pass by the town and head to Tubigon. Although it was brief, back then, I made a promise to come back and be with it one more time.
Then October 15, 2013—we were shaken to our very core.
Loon Church wasn’t just partially gone; it’s really “decimated” to rubble. Nakapanlulumo. What is more saddening is that she took three Loonons with her, probably praying on their last moments. (May their souls be at peace with the Universe)
Devastated I was and the Bol-anons, I know some way; somehow, we will eventually rise up once more. If we put this on Loon’s context, it’s about working our way to rebuild ourselves like how San Jose Obrero does, and on how the Virgin of Light shines their path still to hope.
The Filipino spirit is shock proof!