Gov’t restores 3 historical churches in Dumaguete

Gov’t restores 3 historical churches in Dumaguete

The restored historical churches of the Diocese of Dumaguete. PHOTO COURTESY OF MSGR. JULIUS HERUELA

By Rommel Lopez

September 3, 2019

Manila, Philippines

Three historic churches restored through a government grant amounting to more than P70 million were officially turned over by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to the Diocese of Dumaguete recently.

Msgr. Julius Heruela, chairman of the Diocese of Dumaguete’s Commission on Church Cultural Heritage said the restored churches gave them a “sense of our history because the church was restored closely to the original and sense of our faith because it helps us remember our elders on their worship on this very church and the beauty and antiquity of the Church helps feel the presence of the sacred.”

The churches restored were the St. Isidore the Farmer Parish Church in Lazi, the St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish Church in Dauin, and the St. Isidore the Farmer Parish Church in Zamboanguita.

The restoration started in 2018 and received a combined government funding through the NHCP of almost P70 million. P40 million was allotted for the Lazi church, P20 million for the Dauin church and P10 million for the Zamboanguita church.

Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes was present for the ceremonial turnover. He also led the re-dedication of the churches and celebrated the Holy Mass.

Msgr. Heruela said the restoration of the historic churches is a delicate process since the project needs to be faithful to the original design of the structure.

“There are lots of researches to be done in restoring a church… to keep the materials used or closer to the original but it should provide the needs of our worshippers,” he said.

Asked about some priests and liturgists who would want to take away the ancient retablos (a retable or reredos above an altar, whether a large altarpiece painting or an elaborate wooden structure with sculptures), Msgr. Heruela said, “there was a wrong interpretation of the Vatican II that is why they took away the retablo.”

He also said such an aversion for the Catholic retablo and an over-emphasis on the simplicity or bareness of the sanctuary could be attributed to being influenced by protestant or modernist art.

“I could say also they were influenced by protestanism. How I wish to keep the original retablo more Catholic. When we look (at) heaven there is the presence of the saints and martyrs,” he added.

NHCP deputy executive director Carminda Arevalo headed a six-member team from the commission for the official turnover of the churches on August 26, in the municipality of Lazi in Siquijor province.

The official unveiling of the historical markers in the Dauin and Zamboanguita churches were also held. The Lazi Church already has a historical marker installed.

The NHCP will add the three churches to its National Registry of Historic Sites and Structures.

The National Museum of the Philippines hailed as a National Cultural Treasure the St. Isidore the Famer Church in Lazi, which is noted for its grand convent. It is also a nominee to the UNESCO World Heritage list of Baroque Churches of the Philippines. CBCPNEWS