Heartbreaking: 10 iconic churches in Bohol, Cebu damaged
MANILA, Philippines - Some of the oldest churches in the Philippines fell to the force of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that shook Bohol, Cebu and other parts of the Visayas and Mindanao on Tuesday morning, October 15.
According to Heritage Conservation Society, at least 10 churches were damaged by the quake. They include:
- 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
- St Catherine's Church, Carcar, Cebu
The Church of San Pedro Apostol in Loboc–famous for being the second oldest church in Bohol– sustained major damage to its main structure, 3-story convent and bell tower. Its intricate facade has completely crumbled while its roof of clay tiles has fallen to the ground. The nearby bell tower made of crushed coral is now reduced to a stump, its base covered in rubble from its decimated walls, its bell lying on the ground.
Built in 1602 by Jesuit missionaries, the church was taken over by the Augustinian Recollects in 1768. It is one of Bohol's most famous religious sites and tourist attractions, admired for its beautiful facade and the native paintings on its ceilings.
In Cebu, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño was also heavily damaged. Its belfry collapsed while cracks were found in the walls of the main structure. Due to the danger of more falling structures and debris, mass will be held outside the basilica for now, Bishop Lito Cortes told GMA News. (Check these images from the disaster zone)
The church was founded by Spanish explorers led by conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565, making it the oldest Roman Catholic church founded in the Philippines.
It is said to stand on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebu was found by the Spanish. The statue is the same one given by Ferdinand Magellan to the wife of Rajah Humabon in 1521. To this day, the Basilica houses the famous statue.
The present building was built from 1739 to 1740. It was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1941.
"These are old churches, churches that have importance to the culture of our people and our faith," said Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso on the Balitanghali program on GMA News TV.
The Heritage Conservation Society said the recent destruction emphasizes the need to fortify and restore these ancient churches which, aside from being national treasures, are an important aspect of everyday life in the communities they are found in.
"We call on the Philippine government to allot funds for the proper reconstruction and restoration of these heritage churches which are priceless Philippine cultural treasures. We also ask government cultural agencies, particularly the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, National Historical Commission of the Philippines and National Museum, to take the lead in restoration efforts and move as one," the group said.
They said the destruction should convince the national government to fund "periodic maintenance and preventive measures, such as retrofitting of our built heritage, to protect them from incidents of this magnitude in the future."
Netizens grieved for their damaged churches, calling them a "heartbreaking sight."
Twitter user Jed Cortes tweets this photo collage showing the damage to churches in Bohol using images posted online by other users.
Prayers for Bohol and Cebu. So sad for Sto. Nino church and Loboc church.— Ellen Aclan ◕‿◕ ♡ (@ohitsellen) October 15, 2013
Sto. Nino Basilica and Baclayon Church. Those are just two beautiful churches I've seen. Still God is a stronger foundation. #PrayforVisayas— Kayle Bacsal (@kaiiRULES) October 15, 2013
I just saw what happened to Baclayon church and Sto. Nino de Cebu. I've witnessed its beauty sad to see what happened. ☹— Yzabel Caulfield (@yzbldxg) October 15, 2013
Baclayon church, Loboc church and Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño :( Breaks my heart— Marjolaine dela Peña (@supermaj_) October 15, 2013
Napuntahan ko na yung Sto. Nino church na yun nung bata pa ko. One of the oldest church in the Phil. Look at what happened. #PrayForVisayas— Kevin Bossie Davis (@LikeABoss_ie) October 15, 2013
Heritage advocate Joel Aldor shares with Rappler photos of some of the churches before they were hit by the earthquake: