A Spanish belfry that is centuries-old can be found at the top of the Mt. Carmel Hill, right in the center of the town of Balilihan. The tower is made up of limestone and adobe as it was said to be hailed from the town of Baclayon by its workers by use of merely their own feet. It was originally built to serve as a bell tower of a church that was burned down at some point in the Philippine revolution.
Baclayon is Balilihan’s mother town and continued to provide materials to its belfry construction from 1835 to 1844. The Balilihan town was established as a settlement in 1829 to cater to the 2,100 survivors of the Dagohoy Revolution. It was named after the balili grass which grew abundantly all over the town proper. In honor of the mother town of Baclayon, the town celebrates to this date the Balilihan Festival to commemorate the day when the town was separated from its mother settlement.
The Mt. Carmel Hill has proved to withstand anything that has come its way, may it be natural calamities or even time itself. The once-belfry has turned into towers that still sit on top of the hill like sentinels, wary and protective of the people it overlooks. The tower rises to four stories without any clear division in between floors. Its openings are few and are mostly concentrated on the uppermost floor where the arched opening is decorated by floral designs and scroll work. Concrete stairways were constructed to go up the hill so that visitors would have the chance to marvel at its historical structure.
The hill of Mt. Carmel is around 24 kilometers away from Tagbilaran City located in the municipality of Balilihan. The town lies northeast of Tagbilaran, which is blessed with rugged hills, vast mountains and lush fields. Visitors can get to Balilihan via Cortes using CPG North Avenue or Corella by use of KA Clarin St. It will take about 30 minutes to get to Balilihan from Tagbilaran.
Situated right beside the hill is Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. The sanctuary offers a center of worship and faith to the people of Balilihan, who are known to be a religious and pious community. The church lures in artistic eyes with its ceilings, which are decorated with spectacular paintings that are replicas of famous ancient artworks.
Aside from the Mt. Carmel Hill and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, other attractions of Balilihan include the Camugao Falls that provide a beautiful backdrop of the lush and green vegetation of tropical plants and ferns. The Kawasan Falls, on the other hand, has the same abundant vegetation but compounds it with rugged cliffs that cascade the falling water into a natural pool. Other attractions worth mentioning include the Niluksoan Falls and the Magsija Swimming Pool.
The Mt. Carmel Hill is the only historical landmark left that sheds light on the rich history of the Balilihan town. The Spanish-era watchtower continues to stand tall over the town itself, ready to withstand the ravages of time as it has for centuries.