Priest Cites Need To Start Conservation Of Old Negros Church

Priest Cites Need To Start Conservation Of Old Negros Church


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A draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is now being fine-tuned for one of the country’s National Cultural Treasures in Negros Oriental.

Msgr. Julius Perpetuo S. Heruela, parish priest of the St. Augustine of Hippo Church in Bacong, Negros Oriental, which is a National Cultural Treasure, said he is hopeful that the draft review would be finished in a couple of months so the final document could be made available soon.

He said this is imperative because there is a need to commence certain heritage conservation works in the church to prevent its deterioration, such as the proper way to address vegetation growth in the cracks and crevices of the church’s walls.

A training/workshop must also be held soon prior to the release of the final CMP so that those involved in the conservation of the church would be equipped with the necessary skills and know-how in their respective areas of assignment.

Experts in the field of heritage conservation are emphasizing the need for collaboration and cooperation among the community, the church, and the local government unit (LGU) to be able to successfully implement its conservation management plan (CMP), Heruela said.

The parish priest, who heads the Commission on Church Cultural Heritage of the Diocese of Dumaguete, said Wednesday that without such participation and cooperation, conservation work would be difficult to sustain.

The CMP entails a lot of work from documentation to research to the maintenance of heritage or historical sites, such as but not limited to a church but other structures and even intangible cultural heritage as well.

Heruela has commissioned the University of San Carlos (USC)-CHERISH (Conservation of Heritage Studio and Workshop) in Cebu City to undertake the crafting of a CMP for the centuries-old, Spanish era church.

The church in Bacong, which was completed in 1865, was declared by the National Museum of the Philippines as one of the country’s National Cultural Treasures in 2002 and houses the century-old pipe organ, one of the few remaining in the country that still plays to this date.

The draft CMP was presented on Monday for review by members of the Bacong’s Parish Pastoral Council and the Commission on Church Cultural Heritage after several months of research, documentation, and preparation.

On hand for the presentation were Architect Melva Java, founder of CHERISH, and Architect Serge Raagas of the Architectural Computer Center of USC.

Both architects who are experts in the field of heritage conservation said that any CMP is useless if it is not sustainable and there is no cooperation and participation among the stakeholders.

People in the community must understand their role in the maintenance and preservation of a heritage site and they also must be trained on how to do this, they both said.

On the part of the LGU, for instance, a legislative measure such as a resolution on the declaration of a heritage or historical site would mean being able to qualify for government or private funding, or establishing a protected zone with regulations such as height limits of buildings, they added.

The architects are strongly recommending that a training/workshop be held prior to the implementation of the CMP in Bacong for the right people to prepare for their respective roles.

Heruela said this would be the first-ever Conservation Management Plan for the Diocese of Dumaguete and once implemented, can serve as an example for other parishes with equally rich cultural heritage to follow suit although it could be quite costly to craft such document.

The CHERISH team started its research, documentation and other works in Bacong last February and is hoping that once the recommendations, suggestions, and revisions from the stakeholders are in, they can finally come up with the final plan and submit it for implementation in the first quarter of next year. (PNA)

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