Loay Watchtower

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Brgy. Villalimpia, Loay
Province of Bohol
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Taken on March 11, 2015; 9.598082°N, 124.002343°E

To protect Loay, the town was divided into a lower town (Ubos, aka Canipaan because of nipa swamps in the area) and an upper town (Ibabaw). The church is built at the upper town and the Villalimpia tower is in the lower town. This suggests that the tower at the seaside worked in coordination with the structures at the upper town. The watchtower allowed the townspeople to seek the safety of the upper town in case of seaborne attacks.

Historical records indicate that stone fort and stone baluarte are reported in Loay. It is not certain where the fort was, it may have surrounded the church complex at Ibabaw. The baluarte, however, is probably the watchtower located near the mouth of the Loay River. It is presently at the edge of a mangrove forest, and accessible by sea. During high tide, the sea reaches the tower’s foundations and has exposed and eroded it. Jose observes: “Along the coast of Villalimpia, a barrio near the mouth of the Loboc River, is an abandoned watchtower of coral stone and brick tiles. It can be reached after negotiating several mangrove swamps, and in fact is better seen from the water. Tidal action has exposed much its rubble foundation, allowing for a detailed study of colonial construction techniques. Apparently the only access to the tower is by a ladder; there is no clearly defined entrance. Much of the original roof has survived. One wonders how useful this tower was, because of its diminutive height” (Jose 1998, 2001).

There are no clear records when the baluarte at Villalimpia was built. But a history of Loay might give a sense when the structure was built. Juan Delgado (1754) reports that the village of La Santisima Trinidad was a new village under the Jesuits. Redondo (1886) says that Loay became an independent parish in 1799, when it was separated from Loboc. The church at Ibabaw was completed in 1822 as indicated by an inscription on the church’s inner façade. An outer façade following a popular plan in Bohol that added porticoes in front of existing façades has the year 1889. Inside the church is a pipe organ dated 1841.

The convento is built behind the church and follows the line of the nave before turning left to form an L-plan. The date 1838 appears over the doorway facing the church and over the entrance facing the grand stone stairway (built ca. 1836-37) that links Canipaan and Ibabaw.

The bell tower, which is a separate structure from the church was built by Carlos Ubeda, OAR (parish priest 1859-1865). A date inscribed over the entrance to the tower carries the date 1865 and the phrase “Ave Maria PMA [Purisima]”. Other structures found at Ibabaw and around the church plaza two school houses built by the Recollects during the last quarter of the 19th century. Jose suggests that a two-story structure, said to be old tribunal or municipal hall and ornamented with the monograph of Mary, is from the 18th century.

The dates of these constructions suggest that there was much building during the second and third decade and the last quarter of the 19th century. As the threat of seaborne raiders had decreased considerably after the Gov. Claveria’s attacks on Sama Balangingi in 1841 and the campaign against Jolo in the 1870s, the second and third decades of the 19th century seems to be the more probably context for the construction of the Villalimpia watchtower. – muog.wordpress.com

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Posted: March 31, 2015

Author: pamana360

Category: Forts & Watchtowers, National Cultural Treasures

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