Latest Stories


Restoring Bohol’s damaged churches


It has been six days since the 7.2 killer-quake struck and although business in many private and public offices including schools has been restored, the tremors that are being felt almost daily, with some registering between 4 and 5 in magnitude, hardly make our lives normal in this part of the country.

Yesterday people woke up at 4:40 in the morning to a tremor that registered 5.1 on the Richter scale. A few minutes later, another aftershock measuring 4.2 was recorded, its epicenter at 27 km northwest of Tagbilaran City. The third tremor was felt at 5:29 a.m, measuring 4.2. The fourth shudder came at 5:43, with a magnitude of 4.3 and epicenter at 54 kilometers northeast of Tagbilaran City. All these tremors are part of the 2,026 aftershocks record by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology since Oct. 15. Thirty-seven of the aftershocks were felt in Cebu and Bohol.

Yesterday morning, Mexico was also jolted by an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5. According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake struck off the western coast of Mexico in the Gulf of California. There are no reports as regards human toll and damage to property but since Mexico is said to be located “atop three large tectonic plates and is one of the world’s most seismically active regions,” authorities are closely monitoring events in areas where the quake was strongly felt.

* * *

Flak rained on President Benigno Aquino III when he visited Cebu and Bohol last week to assess the destruction and commiserate with calamity victims. However, despite giving P8 million in aid to Boholanos, people criticized him for giving so little.

P-Noy, who was under a lot of stress at the time because he was scheduled to fly to South Korea for a state visit, committed another faux pas when he announced that the Executive cannot help rehabilitate centuries-old churches damaged by the quake because of the principle of the separation of Church and State.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) differs with the President on this issue. The NCCA is the principal agency tasked with marking heritage and cultural sites and works with affiliate agencies like the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the National Museum. These three agencies formed a task force and went to Bohol to confirm the damage of the earthquake to cultural markers.

Among Bohol churches that sustained damage were the main churches in Baclayon, Dauis, Dimiao, Loay, Loboc, Loon and Maribojoc towns, all categorized as national cultural treasures or national historical landmarks according to the Historical Conservation Society. As we know, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño and Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral also sustained damage but compared with the devastation in Bohol, the basilica’s fallen belfry and cracks inside the church’s walls are minor problems.

Asked by the media to comment on the damaged churches, a task force member said the government is obliged to step in because the issue of rehabilitating these centuries-old churches is imbued with public interest.

I’m glad the Executive is working double time to make amends for the presidential faux pas. I can sense that through Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez who publicly invited foreign experts to help rehabilitate and restore the Bohol churches.

The government could very well seek the help of Japan, which has developed a finance program that funds United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or Unesco projects in conserving and maintaining a number of the world’s heritage sites.

In 1989, Japan created the Funds-in-Trust through contributions “aimed at preserving and restoring monuments, sites and archaeological remains of a great historical and artistic value,” according to web resources. In 2004, the Japanese Funds-in-Trust was able to collect US $50 million in contributions.

Half of the beneficiary sites funded by the trust fund are on the World Heritage List. They include monuments, sites and archaeological remains of great historical/artistic value, many of which are Christian churches, Buddhist temples and sacred grounds.

A lot of ground could be covered through the Department of Foreign Affairs because the Philippines, like all other UN member countries, has a permanent delegation to the Unesco.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Bohol , column , damaged churches , Earthquake , opinion , Restoration

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  2. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  3. Massive infra spending set
  4. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  5. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  6. Estrada, Gigi Reyes denied access to evidence from other respondents
  7. DOJ to NBI: Arrest Cedric Lee, 4 others
  8. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  9. DOJ orders arrest of Cedric Lee
  10. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  3. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  4. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  5. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’


  • Firetruck rams California eatery; 15 injured
  • 9 confirmed dead after ferry sinks off South Korean coast
  • Aquino to public: Learn to sacrifice
  • 20 killed as Islamic extremists rampage in Nigeria
  • Drug firm Novartis to help Leyte firefighter
  • Sports

  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Federer would skip tennis to be with wife, newborn
  • Manny Pacquiao in PBA? If so, he’ll wear No. 17
  • PSC sets Blu Girls US training
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • ‘Community’ star happy with return of show’s creator
  • Business

  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • PH seen to sustain rise in FDIs
  • Technology

  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest
  • Marketplace