During the Spanish era, the way to travel around Bohol was by sea. Many coastline places with a sheltered cove or harbor became a progressive settlement. Among them was a place called “Lo-oc”, Baclayon. As the name implies, it was a sheltered cove good for berthing seacrafts. It was also the breeding place of the “bulinaw” or anchovie.
Since Lo-oc, Baclayon was relatively far from Poblacion, the people had difficulty in attending holy mass during Sundays. To solve the problem, the people thought of the idea of constructing their own chapel and let a priest from Baclayon come to serve the people.
On June 9, 1868, Governor General Jose de la Gandara issued the decree establishing the new town of Alburquerque in its civil jurisdiction. On November 14, 1868, the Fr. Provincial of Recollects approved the creation of the town as to religious jurisdiction. On June 18, 1869, the Bishop of Cebu in which Bohol was a part of the Diocese, made Alburquerque a separate Diocesan Parish. It was advocated to Santa Monica. On June 26, 1869, Fr. Tomas Fernandez assumed hi post as the first curate priest of Alburquerque. Formerly, this town was called “Segunto” or “Sagunto”.
Local folklore say that Alburquerque was in honor of Alfonso Albuquerque, the famous seafarer and conqueror of Malacca, Sumatra. But Albuquerque was a Portuguese. Albuquerque is also a name of a town in the Province of Badadoz, Region of Estramadora, Spain. In Spanish, the word “Albur” means to risk, to venture; to chance”. If we would translate Alburquerque, it would mean the chance, I wish or grammatically better “I wish to venture”. Thus, we can say Alburquerque is the town of adventurous people, the folks who do not fear to venture.
There is also a place called Alburquerque in the ancient town of Mexico, once a colony of Spain for several years. Since then “Sagunto” was changed to Alburquerque and its inhabitants are called Alburanons.
In 1885, the Spanish clergymen and the people built a church made of bamboo, wood, lime plaster and stones. It took them twenty years to finish the magnificent edifice. Forced labor was employed. Every male inhabitants of a desired age was required to bring a big piece of stone of a given size and weight. Failure to comply to this requirement meant twenty-five whipping, or else they were put them to prison. There was a belfry at the right side of the church. It was not very high and it had three big bells. During fiestas or holidays, these three bells would be rung very loud and clear. No bell ringer during those days would not become deaf due to their enormous sounds. Our altar before was exactly the same as that of Baclayon church, but it was found out that most parts were dilapidated. So it was reconstructed, first by wood, then cement.
The statue of Santa Monica was brought direct from Spain. It was made of hard cement and ivory. The parish priest requested some twenty or thirty men to help carry the statue to its pedestal while the bells kept ringing in jubiltation. Thus, Santa Monica was declared as the patron saint of Alburquerque on May 4 while the second patron saint is San Agustin, the son of Sta. Monica.
The belfry is now built in the middle of the façade of the church. At present, our church is a beautiful edifice and is one of the oldest churches in Bohol. It has the architecture of the “baroque” style and Moorish accent. It has an adjoining passage connecting the convent and the church, the purpose of which was to give convenience to the priest and the acolytes who were living in the convent, and in going down to the altar for the holy mass. Since its existence, it was administered by the Centro Catolico, but this was recently changed to Parish Pastoral Council.