Saturday, April 20, 2013

The catacombs of Dimiao

The catacombs make up the walls of the ruins.
It’s amazing what I have discovered in Dimiao town, in the island-province of Bohol at noon today. I discovered catacombs! I never would have thought I would find them right in our own backyard, so to speak. For me, catacombs belong to another era and place.
Over the years, I have frequently travelled along the Dimiao highway on my way to Valencia, my father’s hometown, until I left Bohol in 1988 to pursue my professional journey. Whenever I visit my old man’s hometown, I always pass by Dimiao. However, nobody ever told me about the “Ermita Ruins”. On hindsight, maybe it was not meant to be. I had to discover and experience it for myself sans invitation.

Today, I drove to Dimiao from Valencia to fetch a cousin. Behind the church, I suddenly chanced upon the ruins! Serendipity, my favourite expression, is really my middle name. It looked surreal from a distance. I decided to explore the ruins following our lunch invite.
        On the drive back to Valencia, we stopped by the ruins. We parked by the ruins’ entrance. I must search and investigate. I was very curious. The scene reminds me of Intramuros in Manila and the Pikit Fort in faraway Pikit in North Cotabato.
It was eerily quiet as we entered the place. Maybe it was a holy spot in another time but what caught my breath were the catacombs. It was quite mind-boggling. The ruins were situated in a spacious area across the Catholic Church of Dimiao town. There was a structure that looked to me like the ruins of a chapel. It was situated in the middle of a square-shaped piece of land surrounded by the catacombs that made up the walls of the entire area. Upon the entrance, there was a structure that I could not quite figure out. My best guess would be a sacristy. It looked like it.
          I tried to imagine what Father Enrique de Santo de Villanueva had in mind when he built the structures from 1800-1815. Was it a burial place complete with chapel and sacristy? The chapel was where the burial rituals would have been held. Since there are no historical data available for the catacombs in Dimiao, we will never know what Father Enrique had in mind.
The broken marker said, “The researchers were surprised why no graves were found in the tombs“. It further said, “But even before it was completed, it could be possible that a catastrophic event occurred or an epidemic perhaps, which explains…skeletons excavated from the…” It ends there. I presumed it said, “…which explains why there are no skeletons excavated from the site.”          

          I have lived outside Bohol for over twenty years, but this is my first time ever to see the catacombs of Dimiao. I hope that this rare historical site will be given the prominence it rightfully deserves by the concerned government agencies.
Side entrance of the ruins that looked like a chapel.
The altar of the chapel
Catacombs up close
The sacristy

The entrance to the ruins. On the right with a broken wall are the ruins I presumed to be the sacristy.  The  ruins of the chapel can be seen from the entrance.

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