Quake-damaged churches will be restored, priest says

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What was left of the Maribojoc Church after the Oct. 15 quake. The church was declared by the government a National Cultural Treasure for its cultural, historical and architectural importance to the Filipino people. (Photo: Anthony Vincent Manding)

MANILA, Oct. 23, 2013—A Catholic priest who is an expert in Cultural Heritage has disclosed the planned reconstruction and restoration of heritage Churches damaged by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Central Visayas recently. 

Fr. Milan Ted Torralba, executive secretary of the Permanent Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Church (PCCHC) of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said around 8 heritage Churches in Bohol were already on the process of restoration when these were further damaged by the 7.2 temblor on Oct. 15. 

“There is still a possibility to restore those damaged Churches but it will take a lot of money, time and resources. As of now, we have ruins that are off limits to the public. So we have to build up makeshift chapels and churches to provide for the pastoral needs of the people,” added Torralba, who also comes from the Diocese of Tagbilaran in Bohol. 

He revealed that rubbles from the damaged churches will also be used as materials for the reconstruction because of their value in terms of their aesthetic, historical, and religious significance. 

“Parts of the churches are mostly excavated and quarried hundreds of years ago. We can still use the materials present and find other materials that will make our churches firmer, and with the help of the technology of our time, there is a good possibility to restore those churches,” he explained. 

Restoration and reconstruction of churches will take time because of the delicate process that the restoration team will do when they extract the rubble parts. 

Inabanga Church, dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle, was also leveled, with only the facade standing after the powerful temblor. (Photo: Anthony Vincent Manding)

In terms of reconstructing the damaged churches from their original look, Torralba pointed out that there is already an existing conversion management plan where archives of photo documentation of the churches can be used in order to raise it again. 

Meanwhile, Torralba also said they are encouraging parishes whose churches were damaged by the quake to open their own bank accounts for direct donations from donors and sponsors for the restoration and reconstruction process. 

An estimated bench mark figure of 80 to 100 million pesos is needed for the total reconstruction and restoration of one church alone, depending on the structural damage. 

“It will take some time to restore and reconstruct our heritage churches,” Torralba further explained. 

The powerful temblor on October 15 severely damaged several centuries-old churches both in Bohol and Cebu provinces. 

In Bohol, the heritage churches in Loboc, Loon and Maribojoc were reduced to rubble while the façade of Baclayon church and its bell tower were damaged. Other iconic churches in Loay, Dauis, Dimiao and Tubigon were also heavily damaged. 

In Cebu, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño’s bell tower also collapsed. (Jandel Posion)

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