Baclayon played a prominent role in the history of Bohol since it was the first municipality ever to be established in the island by the Spaniards. Baclayon then encompasses its present territory as well as those belonging now to the towns Corella, Sikatuna, Alburquerque, Balilihan and the City of Tagbilaran.
On November 17, 1595, two Jesuit priest, Fr. Juan de Torres and Fr. Gabriel Sanchez, left Cebu for Bohol to start the conversion of the villagers of Baclayon. Through hard work, patience and perseverance, the duo succeeded in winning the native’s confidence. With the people’s help, they built a big church, like a fort, with a belfry that served as a watchtower for spying the coming of the Muslim (Moro) raiders who used to come and wreck havoc on the people.
Baclayon, then being the residence of the Jesuit Superior General, was the “Residencia” or center of the Bohol missions. However, on October 26, 1600, Baclayon was raided by some 300 Maguindanao Moros in 50 war boats led by Datu Sali and Datu Sirongan. Fortunately, their coming was sighted through the belfry, and when the raiders arrived 3 to 4 hours later, the people were nowhere to be found except for 3 old women and an old man. The four were killed and then the raiders sailed away.
For fear of more raids, the “Residencia” was transferred to Loboc. Life in the settlement went on as usual and in a few years time, the population grew. In 1717, the settlement was raised to the status of a parish and construction of a new and sturdier church began. Through forced labor, 200 natives worked on the church until its completion in 1727.
Baclayon then became a thriving settlement with 1,600 taxpayers. Due to the very large area covered by Baclayon, the priests and Spanish officials find it hard to impose a tax-census and control the activities of the inhabitants. Also the natives who go to confession went over 8,000 and can no longer be accommodated inside the church premises.
Separation of Tagbilaran
The town of Tagbilaran was the first to separate from its mother town, Baclayon. It was known then as the “Bool Kingdom”. In 1741, Father Cesar Felipe Doria, the Father Rector of the Jesuits in Bohol based in Loboc, petitioned for the division of the town of Baclayon due to the above reasons. The town to be created will be named “San Jose de Tagbilaran” and to be located either at Mansasa or Tagbilaran.
After a rigid process, Tagbilaran was finally separated from Baclayon and became a new town in the year 1742. Election of officials for the new town took place on July 4, 1742 at Baclayon while supervised by General de la Barca and they were installed on July 11, 1742 by the General in the presence of the parish priest of Baclayon, Reverend Father Jose Bernardo Redoon.
In the middle of the 18th century, with the coming of the Augustinian Recollects, the “Residencia” was again transferred back to Baclayon.
Separation of Alburquerque
Alburquerque is located in the southwestern part of Bohol and was formerly a coastal barangay named Looc, under the municipality of Baclayon. During the Spanish Regime, Looc was a progressive settlement with a sheltered cove suitable for berthing sea crafts. The place was also “in demand” for it was the breeding place of anchovies or what the locals call “bolinaw”.
The place of Looc was also known as “Segunto” and its first barangay captain was Pedro Jala who lived in the Sitio of Carnago. Barangay Segunto grew until the time when the government officials deemed it proper to separate it from the town of Baclayon.
On June 9, 1868, Gov. General Jose de la Gandara, issued the decree establishing the new town of Alburquerque in its civil jurisdiction. A few months after, on November 14, 1868, the Fr. Provincial of the Recollects approved the creation of the town as to its religious jurisdiction. Seven months later, the Bishop of Cebu made Alburquerque a separate Diocesan parish advocated to Sta. Monica.
Separation of Balilihan
Balilihan was an old settlement, a barrio under the municipality of Baclayon with the families Orig, Dangoy, Racho, Maniwang, Lacea and Pongase as the first inhabitants. The inhabitants sought to make their place be a “visita” or a mission field when their population grew.
On February 5, 1828, prior to the capture of the Dagohoy insurgents, Captain Manuel Sanz’ request to establish resettlement areas in Bohol in places called Balilihan, Batuanan, Catigbian, Vilar, Candijay and Cabulao was approved by the Governor General Mariano Ricafort.
Per records of the town, Balilihan was separated from Baclayon on September 29, 1828 and the Spanish government, represented by Friar Tomas, formally established a settlement or “pueblo” in the Sitio “Bay sa Iring”. Serafin Pongase was appointed as the first captain.Separation of Corella
Corella is a town in the island of Bohol which was once a barrio named “Nag-as” under the municipality of Baclayon. It was established in 1884 and named in honor of a town in Spain. The town is only 10 kilometers away from Tagbilaran City and has a land area of 4,848 hectares consisting of 8 barangays.Separation of Sikatuna
Sikatuna was formerly a Sitio of Alburquerque named Carnago. It was established as a town by Executive Order No.88 issued by then Governor General Francisco Burton Harrison on December 5, 1917. It was named after the famous Bohol chief, Datu Sikatuna, who made a blood compact with the Spanish Conquistador, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in 1565.
Now Baclayon covers an area of 3,442.1807 hectares or 34 square kilometers and politically divided into 17 barangays, namely: Cambanac, Dasitam, Buenaventura, Guiwanon, Landican, Laya, Libertad, Montana, Pamilacan, Payahan, Poblacion, San Isidro, San Roque, San Vicente, Santa Cruz, Taguihon and Tanday.