A magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Visayas region especially the provinces of Cebu and Bohol last Oct. 15. According to reports from Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvolcs), the epicenter of the earthquake was located at two kilometers southeast of Carmen, Bohol. The said earthquake, followed by numerous aftershocks, left thousands of people affected and hundreds of casualties. Thousands of houses and buildings were destroyed including historical churches.
Three months after the earthquake, the centuries-old churches in Bohol badly need to be restored although actions have already started. The restoration project is between the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tagbilaran, National Museum of the Philippines, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). Under R.A. 10066 National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, government is mandated to protect, conserve, and restore national heritage.
The restoration plan by the National Museum Bohol Heritage Task Force that was developed after the completion of assessments will be abided by the Diocese during the process of restoration. It now awaits the rapid creation of the Task Force’s field office presently headquartered at the National Museum’s satellite branch in Tagbilaran opposite the Tagbilaran Cathedral.
Aside from technical experts from the national government cultural agencies, the Diocese fields its Sacred Architecture Committee members as collaborators with the Task Force’s field office. This said committee is one of five under the Diocese’s Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church.
The Diocese of Tagbilaran is calling for financial help for the restoration of these churches which are considered an important part of our history and cultural heritage.
Churches due for restoration under the Diocese of Tagbilaran are:Santa Cruz Parish Church (Maribojoc, Bohol)
The Santa Cruz Parish Church was also heavily destroyed during the earthquake. The church where one of the most intricate neo-gothic retablos can be found was erected in 1872 under the leadership of Fray Fernando Rubio. It also has a visually-striking ceiling art by Raymundo Francia. The Diocesan Shrine of San Vicente Ferrer was also declared as national cultural treasure, and national historical landmark.
Santisima Trinidad Parish Church (Loay, Bohol)
The church’s portico-façade fell down during the earthquake. The church that was formerly a visita of Loboc, was constructed in 1822 by the Augustinian Recollects with its Neo-classical portico addition in 1889 and reinforced at the earlier part of the 20th century. It was recently declared as a national cultural treasure and national historical landmark.
Santo Niño Parish Church (Cortes, Bohol)
This church that was recently declared as the national cultural treasure is situated on a cliff overlooking the Abatan River. It was constructed in the 1890s and was formerly under the jurisdiction of its mother parish in Maribojoc, until it became an independent town in 1794. The portico-facade, the right wing of the transept and the right wall of the sanctuary area fell down during the earthquake.
Asuncion de Nuestra Señora Parish Church (Dauis, Bohol)
The present church which was already under fifth construction was finished in 1898 by one of the last Recollect fathers, Fray Julio Saldaña. It exhibits an amalgam of artistic styles which is a mix of Baroque and Gothic. Also declared as a national cultural treasure and national historical landmark, its portico-facade, the right wing of the transept and the back wall of the sacristy fell down during the earthquake. This church has one of the most sophisticated construction than any other structure in the province.
San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church (Dimiao, Bohol)
Also a national cultural treasure, the present church was built in 1815. The church is the only other Spanish-era structure (aside from Loon) that was not originally built with a portico, and is flanked by two octagonal bell towers. The walls of both the left and right wings of the transept cracked open, and large portions of the outer stone finishes in various areas of the church exterior fell down during the earthquake.
San Isidro Labrador Parish Church (Tugibon, Bohol)
Erected in 1934, this present church contains the most well-preserved ceiling paintings of Raymundo Francia in the province. It was identified as a heritage site by the Diocese of Tagbilaran but its façade fell down during the earthquake.
Santa Monica Parish Church (Alburquerque, Bohol)
Declared as an important cultural property by the National Museum, this church was built in 1930s and convent forms one of the most picturesque church complexes in Bohol. The newly reconstructed interior has ceiling artworks done in the school of painting of Raymundo Francia. During the earthquake, the church suffered minimal damage and cracks.
Nuestra Señora Del Santissimo Rosario Parish Church (Lila, Bohol)
The earthquake resulted for the pediment of this church to fell down and some major cracks along its walls. It was constructed in 1925 and the interior was later decorated in 1937 to 1945, under the tutelage of Fr. Miguel Ortega. It was identified as a heritage site by the Diocese.
San Agustin Obispo y Doctor Parish Church (Panglao, Bohol)
The construction of the present church started in 1894 and was completed in 1925. The church contains one of the most unusual ceiling artwork compositions in the country that was done in the 1920s. The church complex, together with the convento, watchtower, plaza, old municipio and the Escuela de Niños y Niñas, were declared important cultural properties by the National Museum. It also suffered some major cracks along its walls during the earthquake.
For more details on the restoration project of the Diocese, please visit www.rebuildboholchurches.org. Flordeliza Espina
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