NHCP to help restore, rebuild historic sites damaged by Luzon earthquake

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2022 07:11 PM | Updated as of Jul 31 2022 08:57 AM

This is what remains of the Sta. Catalina de Alejandria Parish Church Regie Gabia
This is what remains of the Sta. Catalina de Alejandria Parish Church in Tayum, Abra after it was hit by a magnitude 7 earthquake on July 27, 2022. Courtesy: Regie Gabia

MANILA -- (UPDATE 2) The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) on Wednesday said it will be working on the restoration and rebuilding of some historic sites, churches, and structures that were damaged in the powerful Luzon earthquake.

In a statement, NHCP said it will be joining a meeting with the Board of Commissioners of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to discuss the matter.

In the meantime, the commission called on local governments and its partners to "safeguard the artifacts, retrieve important parts of the structure necessary for the restoration, and provide NHCP with necessary documentations of the destroyed structures and the retrieved parts."

"The NHCP, in collaboration with the local government units and cultural property owners, expresses its commitment to help rehabilitate the damaged historic sites and structures, many of them have been part of the life of the people for centuries," it said.

For now, the NHCP added, it will be giving way to government agencies conducting relief operations to address the basic needs of those affected by the earthquake.

Some historic Roman Catholic churches in Abra, the epicenter of the earthquake, were damaged in the magnitude 7 earthquake.

Portions of the bell tower and roof broke off from the Santa Catalina de Alejandria Church, more known as the Tayum Church, in Tayum town.

The facade of the church building, erected in 1803, had once been damaged by earthquakes during the Spanish colonial era and restored during the American occupation.

The church, which featured a fusion of Itneg and Spanish design influences, was declared a national cultural treasure in 2001.

In the capital city of Bangued, the San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine Church lost one of its twin belfries during the aftershocks.

The red clay brick church, which had the locality’s first cemetery, was built in the early 1920s.

Meanwhile, Sen. Imee Marcos also confirmed that several historic structures in Ilocos were also damaged by the quake.

These include ancestral houses on Calle Real in Vigan, the Sarrat Church, the bell towers of Bantay and Laoag, and the Sarrat heritage municipal hall.

DOT TO ASSESS DAMAGE, EXTEND ASSISTANCE

Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism said it has started coordinating with local government units to assess the damage brought by the earthquake, as well as to provide necessary assistance to tourism-related establishments affected.

Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco has directed the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to look into how the agency can help, particularly on the cultural and heritage sites in northern Luzon that were affected.

"We will request TIEZA to prioritize assessment of the cultural treasures affected by the recent earthquake recognizing the need to protect and sustain our heritage and cultural treasures for the benefit and welfare of our future generations," she said.

DOT said based on initial reports, the following tourism sites were damaged by the earthquake: the Sta. Catalina de Alexandria Church and San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine in Abra, the Vigan Cathedral, the Syquia House, Bantay Bell Tower, St. John the Baptist Church in Ilocos Sur, and the Lafaayette Luxury Suites Hotel and Crown Legacy in Baguio City.

Several properties managed and owned by TIEZA were also damaged: the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel in Ifugao, and the Mt. Data Hotel in Bauko, Mt. Province.

"My concern and sympathy are one with those who have been affected by the recent earthquake in Northern Luzon. The Department will extend whatever help it can to tourism stakeholders and establishments that have been directly affected by this incident. I have requested the DOT regional offices in Northern Luzon to continue with the assessment of the extent of the damage and to immediately submit the report for our appropriate actions and assistance," Frasco said.

DOT said no tourists were reported harmed. It also advised those with travel plans to Northern Luzon to practice extra precautions.

— with reports from Anjo Bagaoisan and Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

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