LAS MINAS DE TALIBONG: A TREASURE OF DIVINE LOVE
(An Excerpt of the History of the Diocese of Talibon until its Silver Jubilee Celebration
by Msgr. Jonathan Pacudan)

EVANGELIZATION BY THE FRIARS

            The famous Blood Compact on March 25, 1565 between Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and the Boholano Chieftain Sikatuna was not a missionary venture but a diplomatic treaty. Fray Andres de Urdaneta and his four other Augustinian confreres, who were with Legaspi, did not attempt to preach and convert the Boholanos lest they apostatize and fall back into paganism due to the lack of missionaries who could stay permanently for evangelization.1 Legazpi and his men moved on to Cebu, and established the first Spanish settlement there. From Cebu, evangelization came to full swing.2 Hence, when the first Jesuit friars, Fr. Juan de Torres and Fr. Gabriel Sanchez, came to Bohol to put up a mission station in Baclayon only after 30 years on November 17, 1596, lay evangelization was already active in some parts of Bohol, particularly in Talibon, the refuge of Magellan’s crew in 1521,  and one of the settlements nearest to Cebu where Christianization enjoyed much success since the 1565 Legaspi expedition. In fact, when Fr. Juan de Torres went on a mission trip to the northern part of Bohol, he reached Talibon traveling for six days, and found resident Boholano Christians who already lived and prayed together, and saw a native hut which served as a chapel built by the natives themselves. Even before the friars came, the place was already called “Las minas de Talibong” (the mines of Talibong) due to the abundant reserves of gold found in the mountains overlooking the wide pasture lands.3

            Torres celebrated Mass for the first time in that chapel. The natives, whom he called lavaderos de oro (gold washers), were suspicious about the real motive of the missionary. But Fr. Torres, took a handful of gold dust in his hand, and cast it to the ground, grinding it under his feet. This brought home his real intent—he was not in search of gold but of souls.4 With that, he deeply impressed the natives who realized that the friar was not there to take but to share God’s treasure of love.

Cathedral in sephia

THE BIRTH OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY PARISH

            The Augustinian-Recollect historian, Agustin de la Cavada Mendez de Vigo, in his 1876 book, Historia, geografia, geologia y estadistica de Filipinas. Tomo II: Visayas y Mindanao, stated that Talibon became a parish in 1722.5 The oldest records in the archives were marriage registers from 1724, according to an 1886 report.6   Contrary to claims of some, Talibon was a separate town from Inabanga right from the very start.7 Together with Inabanga which became a parish only in 1724,8 Talibon was administered by the Jesuits who were based at their residence in the Colegio de San Ildefonso in Cebu.9 This Jesuit administration continued until their expulsion from the Philippines in 1768, during which their mission territories in Bohol were turned over to the Augustinian Recollects. However, it was around this time that the Dagohoy Revolt was at its height, which ended only in 1829. Thus in 1831, after years of turmoil and instability, Talibon once again enjoyed the full reinstatement as parish by Cebu’s Bishop Santos Gomez Maranon, O.S.A.10 Fr. Ramon de Sta. Ana, O.A.R.  was the first Augustinian-Recollect parish priest. In 1852, the pious pastor began the construction of a permanent church, now known as the Most Holy Trinity Cathedral, with the use of coral rocks hauled from the sea by conscripted labor of the natives, as was the practice then. It was completed in 1899 under Fr. Gabrino Ispar.11

BIRTH OF THE MOTHER-DIOCESE OF TAGBILARAN

            Since the first Jesuit friars arrived in 1596, Bohol was under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Diocese of Cebu which was erected in 1595. It was only on November 8, 1941 that the island-province of Bohol was created as the new Diocese of Tagbilaran, separate from Cebu, her mother-diocese, by virtue of a Papal Bull, In sublimi Petri cathedra, by Pope Pius XII. The new diocese, however, did not immediately have a resident bishop due to the outbreak of World War II, which left her to the apostolic administration of the archbishop of Cebu, Most Rev. Gabriel Martelino Reyes, D.D.

seminary

            In 1945, the Diocese of Tagbilaran, suffragan of the Archdiocese of Cebu, welcomed her first bishop, Most Rev. Julio R. Rosales of Calbayog, Samar. When he was elevated as Archbishop of Cebu in 1950, at the same time the Apostolic Administrator of Tagbilaran until 1952, he left Bohol among others a living legacy, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary (IHMS) which has made Bohol the home of many priests and bishops.

            In 1952, a Boholano bishop, Most Rev. Manuel Mascariñas, D.D. of Antequera, took the reins of the diocese for more than twenty years. Hand in hand with him in the administration of the diocese was Most Rev. Juan Nilmar, D.D., his Auxiliary Bishop.

            In 1976, Most Rev. Onesimo Gordoncillo, then Auxiliary Bishop of Dumaguete, succeeded in the episcopacy.

BIRTH OF THE DIOCESE OF TALIBON

            In the 10th year of Msgr. Gordoncillo’s incumbency, the new Diocese of Talibon was created on January 9, 1986 by a Papal Bull by Pope John Paul II, and canonically erected on December 3, 1986, under the titular patronage of the Most Holy Trinity, with Most Rev. Christian Vicente Fernandez Noel, D.D. of Sangi, Asturias, Cebu as its first bishop. Most Rev. Bruno Torpigliani, D.D., then Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, presided over the rites of the diocese’s canonical erection as well as the new bishop’s installation at the Most Holy Trinity Cathedral. The new diocese consisted of 23 parishes, listed as follows, with their corresponding patrons and year of erection as chronologically ordered:12 Talibon (Most Holy Trinity, 1722), Inabanga (St. Paul, 1724), Guindulman (Lady of Consolation, 1797), Candijay (St. Joseph, 1857), Duero (Immaculate Conception, 1863), Carmen (St. Anthony the Abbot, 1874), Ubay (Sto. Niño, 1877), Anda (Sto. Niño, 1885), Mabini (Sta. Monica, 1905), Clarin (St. Michael, 1924), Sierra-Bullones (Immaculate Conception, 1937)13, Sagbayan (St. Augustine, 1952), Alicia (St. Joachim and St. Ana, 1953), Trinidad (St. Isidore the Worker, 1954), President Garcia (Sto. Niño, 1954), Buenavista (Lady of the Holy Rosary, 1957), Dagohoy (Lady of Lourdes, 1957), Danao (Holy Family, 1957), Jetafe (Sto. Niño, 1957), Pilar (Virgen del Pilar, 1962), San Miguel (St. Michael, 1962), San Pascual (St. Vincent Ferrer, 1967), and Bien Unido (Sto. Niño, 1967).

            However, on July 7, 1988, by a decree issued by the Sacred Congregation for Bishops, acting by virtue of the faculties bestowed by Pope John Paul II, the parish of Jagna (St. Michael, 1631)14 was annexed to the new Diocese of Talibon, in exchange of Clarin and Sagbayan that were detached in favor of the Diocese of Tagbilaran.

LOOKING BACK AT THE PAST TWENTY-FIVE YEARS

            Trusting in the Providence of God and the good will of the people, Bishop Noel has constructed the Most Holy Trinity Diocesan Pastoral Center in Talibon that has become the venue of lay, religious and clergy formation.

            In an annual retreat in July 1993, initiatives were taken by the local Clergy to formulate a vision-mission statement in answer to the momentum of renewal ushered in by the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1991. In February 1995, the Clergy ventured into an introductory planning of a five-year diocesan pastoral program to involve the lay faithful in the formulation of a vision-mission statement and a diocesan pastoral plan. In February 1996, the Clergy defined its Diocesan thrust, that is, the building of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC).

            On April 17, 1996, the diocese was registered to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

            Since the erection of the diocese, a total of fifteen new parishes were erected, listed as follows, with their corresponding patrons and year of erection as chronologically ordered: Cogtong, Candijay (St. Joseph, 1994), Mahayag, San Miguel (St. Isidore the Farmer, 1994), Biabas, Ubay (St. Isidore the Farmer, 1995), Lonoy, Jagna (St. Joseph the Worker, 1999), La Hacienda, Alicia (St. Isidore, 2000), Pasanan, Inabanga (St. Joseph, 2000), Bugtong Lubi, Inabanga (Sto. Niño, 2000), Guinacot, Guindulman (Sto. Niño, 2002), Abachanan, Sierra-Bullones (St. Isidore, 2002 ), Bagacay, Talibon (San Roque, 2003), San Roque, Mabini (St. Michael the Archangel, 2003), Aguining, President Garcia (St. Isidore, 2004), Bugsoc, Sierra-Bullones (St. Isidore, 2007), La Union, Candijay (St. Isidore, 2009), and San Agustin, Talibon (St. Augustine, 2009).

            Quasi-parishes and chaplaincies include the barrios of Hinlayagan (Trinidad), Kawayan (Inabanga), Payao ( Duero), Nueva Vida Este (Carmen), San Miguel (Dagohoy) and San Isidro (Pilar).

            Since 1986, eighty-seven (87) men were ordained to the Sacred Order of the Priesthood, some of whom are in active ministry outside the diocese. At present, seventy-three (73) are working within the diocese. Priestly vocations are not scarce in this part of the globe where eighty (80) seminarians are currently studying Philosophy and Theology in preparation for ordination. There are fifty-three (53) religious sisters from six (6) different religious congregations, namely, the Augustinian-Recollects (AR), Daughters of St. Teresa (DST), Canossian Daughters of Charity (FdCC), Daughters of Mary Escolapias, Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart (MCSH), Missionary Sisters of Christ the King (Mcr), and the Sisters Oblates of the Holy Spirit (OSS). Most of these sisters are administering the seventeen (17) member schools of the Bohol Association of Catholic Schools (BACS-TALIBON).

2th diocesan anniversary logo

SILVER JUBILEE CELEBRATION

            The diocese celebrates its Silver Jubilee on December 3, 2011. After twenty-five years, the Diocese of Talibon has continued to grow under the able leadership of Bishop Christian Vicente F. Noel, D.D. who celebrated the golden jubilee of his sacerdotal ordination last March 18, 2011, as well as his 30th year as bishop last November 30, 2011.

            The Pontifical Concelebrated Eucharistic Celebration, presided by His Excellency Bishop Christian Vicente F. Noel, D.D.,  with Archbishop Bernardito C. Auza, a full-bloodied Talibongnon now commissioned by the Holy See as Papal Nuncio to Haiti as homilist, and in union with the bishops and priests and the People of God, is the peak of this celebration. The celebration shall also highlight the formal dedication of the cathedral, as well as the ground-breaking of the proposed new bishop’s residence.

            Las Minas de Talibong, that were once mined underground by the pre-Hispanic gold washers, have turned into hearts of gold of the faithful. The theme of the celebration, “TREASURE OF DIVINE LOVE: SILVER JUBILEE CELEBRATION OF THE DIOCESE OF TALIBON”, captures this spirit of thanksgiving and praise to the Santissima Trinidad, under Whose guidance we entrust ourselves as we sing our Diocesan Jubilee Hymn, PAGDAYGON ANG NGALAN MO, O DIOS (Praised be Your Name, O God).

            VIVA SANTISSIMA TRINIDAD!