Bohol and its History


Map of Bohol


Bohol Island has much to offer in terms of history.

Bohol’s contact with other civilizations antedates the Spanish “discovery” of the Philippines. Among the early settlers were people who used gold jewelry, death masks and who “beautified” their women by flattening and shaping their skulls.

The Chinese traders frequented Bohol before the 5th century. Boholanos profited from them as middlemen. They took Chinese wares as far as the Moluccas and returned with spices, honey and trinkets they used for bartering.

Before the Spanish came to Bohol, the main population center may have been on stilts between Panglao Island and the mainland. Legend says that the town was razed by Portuguese sailors who abducted one of the queens. As a result, Sultan Sikatuna and his people moved to Bool, which is just outside Tagbilaran City. Other sultans moved their people to Dapitan and other areas of Mindanao.

In 1521, Panglao was an international trading center inhabited by tattoo-covered natives. After Magellan’s death, his ships sailed across from Cebu to Panglao Island and the village of Bool from where the name “Bohol” derives.

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the Spanish colonizer who became the first governor-general of the Philippines, anchored briefly at the island of Bohol in 1563. Legaspi’s arrival in Bohol was peaceful, unlike in most other places. Impressed with the economic possibilities trade would bring and by Sultan Sikatuna’s friendliness, he made a blood compact with Sultan Sikatuna bringing Bohol under Spanish rule, administered from Cebu. The peace treaty lasted 45 years. Just before Sikatuna died, he chose to be baptized. Feeling betrayed, many Muslims turned on Sikatuna’s people and frequently raided Bohol.

Legaspi spread Christianity in Bohol and initiated church building. Some of the best-preserved Spanish churches, watchtowers and fortifications in the Philippines are found in Bohol. The Jesuits founded six parishes in 1595. The Baclayon Church is the country’s oldest church built in 1595. The adjoining bell tower was started by the Jesuits but was completed by the Recollects in 1777. The 7.2 magnitude earthquake on October 15, 2013 damaged the bell tower. The Recollects built a L-shaped convent in 1872, connecting the already fortified church with a bastion and lies hidden behind a grotto of the Virgin of Lourdes.

In spite of Boholanos converting to Roman Catholicism, they refused to acquiesce to friar abuses. Bohol was the scene of two major rebellions against the Spaniards. The Tamblot revolt in 1622, led by a pagan priest, lasted six months. The second started in 1744, when a Spanish priest denied Christian burial to the brother of Francisco Dagohoy, now a local hero. Infuriated, Dagohoy established an independent government in the mountains of Bohol that lasted 85 years, in spite of many Spanish attempts to overcome it. The island’s importance as a trading center declined. The longest revolt in Philippine history, it was finally suppressed by an expedition from Manila in 1829, and Bohol was grouped with Siquijor as a politico-military province.

The American colonizers often had problems that were exacerbated by violent retaliation. In 1901, Filipino rebels confronted the Americans in a bloody battle at Jagna in the southeastern part of Bohol. They also did not accept Japanese rule. They moved their government away from Japanese control, printed their own money and supplied local and allied forces with produce. During World War II, Bohol saw widespread guerilla activity.

Since the end of the war, Bohol has remained a peaceful province.



Inside Guide Philippines by Discovery Channel

Philippines Handbook by Carl Parkes

PhilippinesGuide by Jill & Rebecca Gale de Villa

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