Loboc History - Then and Now


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Loboc, in the annals of Philippine history, served as an inland market village since pre-Hispanic times. As the prevalent practice at that time, agricultural goods of the upland regions were brought to Loboc to be bartered with sea produce. It was said to be the domain of Datu Sigala, a contemporary of Datu Sikatuna; the later entered into a treaty of friendship with Spain’s Miguel Lopez de Legaspi with a blood compact in 1565.

Baclayon was the first Christian settlement in Bohol; and in 1596, the Jesuit Fr. Juan de Torres came to Loboc to establish another settlement. On October 26, 1600 however, the Jesuit Missionaries moved the center of their missionary activities to this inland village after suffering an attack wielded by the Moro invaders.

According to Fr. Horacio de la Costa, a Filipino historian, the village of Loboc was established and became a parish in 1602. It became the “Residencia Boholana” or the place where the local superior of the Jesuits lived. From that time until the middle of the 18th century Loboc played host to the “Residencia” then they again moved back to Baclayon. The 1st stone church of Loboc was built then.

The Jesuit missionaries who remained in Loboc eventually established a Seminario-Collegio or boarding school for native boys. This was around the year 1604. It was during that time that the Lobocanons were instructed on music and thus the foundation of the musical culture of the town was established.

Instilled with a great love for music, the Lobocanons were also inculcated with deep love for God, great respect for religious practices, communal cohesiveness, dedication to traditional values partnered with hard work.

In 1768, the Jesuits were expelled and the Augustinian Recollects took over. Upon arrival, their first concern was the renovation of the old stone church. They undertook the work of finishing the arcade façade, building the heavy stone buttresses, establishing the mortuary chapel, building the free-standing bell tower and the 3-storey convent at the back of the church.

Two saintly figures lived, died and were buried in the Loboc Church. One was Fr. Alonso Humanes whose gravesite was often visited by pilgrims after his death in 1633. Many miracles were attributed to this saint and one of them was the miraculous arrest of a fire that would have engulfed the whole church at that time. Another figure was that of Miguel Ayatumo, a student of the seminary who died in the odor of sanctity at the young age of sixteen in 1609.

The early history of Bohol revolved much around the town and church of Loboc. Talking about the history of the church is likewise taking into account the early history of Bohol. The church of Loboc contains many relics that speak of the period that transpired in Loboc’s history.

Decorative stone carvings and friezes on the exterior walls, a relief of St. Ignatius in polychrome stucco hidden behind the main altar, and seven retablos dates back to the Jesuit and Recollect periods. Murals at the church’s ceiling by Cebuano artists Rey Francia and Canuto Avila trace its inception in the year 1920.

A mural depicting the miracles in Loboc thru the heavenly intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Loboc’s second patron, dates back to 1876. There are still lots of ancient materials inside the church that speaks of the periods when they were made such as the carved wooden cornices and decorative corbels shaped as gargoyles or mythical animals and more. Much damage was inflicted to the church due to periodic floods that led to the destruction of its ancient records and other priceless relics.

The Loboc River overflowed its bank on 1847. Next record of overflowing was on November 26, 1876 inflicting much damage to properties and human lives. Subsequent flooding occurs in November 21, 1953, and November 19 to 20, 1964. It has been observed that a period of 8 to 9 years usually elapse before the next flooding.

The town of Loboc also became the temporary capital of the province during World War II as well as the headquarters of the Boholano guerillas until such time when it was transferred to Carmen to escape the mopping operations of the Japanese. Loboc was occupied by the Japanese forces in 1942 and was liberated in 1945 by the Philippine Commonwealth troops with the help of the Boholano guerillas.

During the Japanese occupation, the chief means of livelihood of the Lobocanons were farming, sinamay weaving, soap making, tuba gathering and wine making.

1956-Present

Loboc’s development was unstoppable. In 1956, the National Power Corporation installed a hydro-electric plant near the Tontonan Falls and established a housing project for its engineers up the mountains of Loboc. The power plant provides electricity to the municipality as well as neighboring towns including Tagbilaran City.

1970 to 1985 witnessed the introduction of the making of essential handicrafts such as those of quality native baskets, nipa shingles, furniture making and the implementation of reforestation projects. At present, agriculture remains the most important industry. As land and water transportation improved, the people seriously engaged in copra making, basketry and furniture making.

Irrigation was improved; the jumbo bridge (a monument of stupidity) was started and ironically left unfinished. Schools were constructed even in the inner recesses of the barangays. The Joventino A. Digal Memorial Complex was also constructed.

Positive developments followed for the next 15 years. More barangay roads were opened giving access to and from the neighboring towns enhancing trade and industry. With more accessible roads, enterprising Lobocanons ventured into the transportation industry, providing mini-buses, tricycles and habal-habals; giving its constituents the ease of travelling within the municipality and to other points of Bohol.

The tourism industry flourished with the introduction of a “river cruise” which caught the fancy of foreign tourists. Scenic spots were developed and promoted. Many came to view the 2nd oldest church of Bohol, to see the octagonal belfry and to see the captive tarsiers. “Krus Daku” was constructed as a pilgrimage and tourist site. The three-storey convent at the back of the church now houses the Church Museum.

The Lobocanons also went into commercial production of poultry and other livestock. There was a significant growth in the produce of wood and rattan chairs and the establishment of their market abroad. Loboc is now hailed as the greatest producer of high quality wood and rattan chairs.

The musicality of Loboc metamorphosed throughout the succeeding years and gained recognition as the true “music capital” of Bohol. Bands were created, choirs established. Eventually one of its choirs, the Loboc Children’s Choir, became world renowned after initially garnering the much coveted price of Himig National Champion, not only once but in a row. Aside from local performances, the LCC now performs outside the country.

A most recent development is the lighting up of the Loboc River and the establishment of a night cruise. A modern 120-meter docking port for the floating restaurants was constructed as well as an eco-tourism center; the building of which houses the tourism office, a visitor’s lounge and air-conditioned comfort rooms.

Loboc’s agricultural production dwindled. More and more people went into basket making, other handicrafts making and tourism pursuits for they entail immediate cash rewards. It is a fact that the town now imports rice from a big trader based in Tagbilaran City to sustain the demand for this product.

Loboc recently celebrated its 400th anniversary as a canonical parish. Commemorative activities revolved around the Church of St. Peter the Apostle, its main heritage structure.

How Loboc Got Its Name

The name “Loboc” came from the local dialect “ga loboc” meaning “pounding palay”. When the Jesuit missionaries arrived at the village, they passed by a family pounding rice. They asked for the name of the place and thinking that they were asking what they were doing, the head of the family answered: “ga Loboc”. The name stuck and to this day, the place, and eventually the town, was named Loboc.

Source: Museo de Loboc

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