Historical Churches In Central Visayas Almost Ready For Turnover

Three historical churches in the Diocese of Dumaguete that are being restored by the National Cultural Heritage of the Philippines (NHCP) through national government funding are almost ready for turnover to local stakeholders, with the projects now in the final stages of completion.

These are the St. Isidore The Farmer Church in Zamboanguita town (with some PHP9-million funding), the St. Nicolas de Tolentino Church in Dauin (PHP19 million), and the San Isidro Labrador Church in Lazi, Siquijor (an estimated PHP39 million).

The churches in Zamboanguita and Dauin in Negros Oriental are ready for turnover with just minor finishing touches, such as cleaning up and polishing, while that in Lazi, Siquijor is about 90% complete, said Carminda A. Arevalo, Deputy Executive Director for Administration of the NHCP.

Arevalo and her team of two NHCP engineers and an architect visited Lazi town on Wednesday to inspect the ongoing restoration of the San Isidro Labrador Church, a Spanish-era church built in the 1800s, which the National Museum of the Philippines declared as a National Cultural Treasure.

Prior to that, they also visited Dauin and Zamboanguita towns for their final inspection of the restoration projects.

The Lazi project is implemented on schedule and will be finished by late June or early July. According to her, the turnover could be sometime in July, depending on the availability of Church and local officials and other stakeholders.

Arevalo hopes the turnover ceremonies for all three churches will be done in one setting in consideration of budgetary requirements for the attending NHCP officials coming from Manila.

Arevalo thanked the locals and the Commission on Church Cultural Heritage, headed by Msgr. Julius Perpetuo S. Heruela, for their continuous monitoring of the project.

The usual problems encountered in the restoration works include some specifications in a project’s scope of work not religiously followed by the contractor, but she assured that the NHCP is keeping track of these and undertakes corrective measures.

Architect Donking O. Roque of NHCP, meanwhile, said the Lazi Church restoration only needs lighting fixtures, floor tiles, and other minor works.

According to Roque, the NHCP is doing its best to restore the churches to their closest original state, based on thorough research and interviews, even with the absence of original materials used, such as the type of wood that may no longer be available today.

Meanwhile, the NHCP officials highlighted the importance of the stakeholders’ role in the maintenance, protection, and preservation of these restored churches.

According to Arevalo, conservation is key in the management of heritage sites, and everyone must come together to achieve this.

“Actually, we involve the stakeholders through meetings even before the restoration begins so that they know what to expect,” she said in Filipino.

It is also important for the local government units (LGUs) to be involved because although it is a church that is being restored, they need the support of the LGUs for the necessary permits, she added.

Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes has expressed his gratitude to the NHCP for the restoration of the three churches.

Cortes heads the Episcopal Commission on Church Cultural Heritage of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in the Philippines.

Heruela, who chairs the Diocesan Commission on Church Cultural Heritage, also extended his thanks to the NHCP, reassuring them that once the projects are turned over to the diocese, efforts will commence to come up with a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for each area, to ensure the protection and preservation of these heritage/historical structures for the future generations. (PNA)

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