MANILA - The centuries-old structures were built out of adobe, mud and crushed corals. Should the damaged structures be restored, or simply torn down and new ones built?
Experts will start assessing today the extent of damage caused by Tuesday’s powerful earthquake on 10 historic churches in Bohol and Cebu.
“We still have to find out if we’re going to restore or save the ruins,” said Trixie Cruz-Angeles of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
She said assessment would determine whether a particular church would need minor repairs and retrofitting or full restoration.
Angeles bared it would take at least P100 million to rebuild the iconic churches.
“Given the extent of damage and the number of churches, the damage is huge. There might even be hidden damages on the churches that are left standing…definitely it would not be less than P100 million,” she said.
Angeles, along with other experts from NCCA and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, will fly to Cebu and Bohol today to inspect the damaged churches.
These include the Church of San Pedro Apostol, Loboc, Bohol; Church of Our Lady of Light, Loon, Bohol; Santissima Trinidad Parish, Loay, Bohol; Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Baclayon, Bohol; Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Dauis, Bohol; San Nicolas Church, Dimiao, Bohol; Santa Cruz Parish Church, Maribojoc, Bohol; Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, Cebu; Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Cebu; and St. Catherine’s Church, Carcar, Cebu.
Angeles said the complete inspection of the damaged churches would take some time as they would also need to evaluate the structural integrity of the foundations.
She could not yet say, however, if foreign experts would be flown in for the assessment or even the restoration.
Angeles said most of the churches were built using organic materials such as coral stones, egg whites, and apog (lime).
“Many of the churches are regularly used so we have to check if it is still possible to build structures on top of them,” she said.
Angeles noted there was an ongoing preservation of the world famous Loboc church before the tragedy struck.
President Aquino, who went to Bohol and Cebu to visit earthquake-hit areas, assured the government would help in rebuilding the historic churches.
Aquino said he ordered a study on whether the government could fully take over the restoration or rebuilding of churches given the principle of the separation of the Church and State.
“I just don’t want to commit right now, this is still being researched carefully. But, at the minimum, you can expect me to help…getting the private sector to help if the government is not permitted (to do the repairs) as far as historical churches are concerned – at least to get them back…to physically where they were…the aesthetics,” Aquino said. – Evelyn Macairan, Aurea Calica