Town church to be named National Cultural Treasure

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

MINALIN -- The Sta. Monica Church here is set to be declared as a National Cultural Treasure (NCT) by the National Museum on August 27.

The Commission on Cultural Heritage, Restoration and Conservation (CCHRC) of the Sta. Monica Parish, in a press statement, said preparations are underway to highlight the historic event.

Architect Owen Francis S. Canlas, chair of the CCHRC, said “Operation Scanning,” or the scanning of photographs for electronic documentation have started with residents here on Sunday lending old photographs of family events that gave glimpses of the Sta. Monica Church.


From these contributions, several pieces will be selected to consist part of the parish museum, Canlas said. Operation Scanning will last until August 14, Sunday, the statement added.

“We would like to reconstruct the history of Minalin through old photographs and present how the church and the town of Minalin looked in the past centuries, hoping this will evoke a deep-rootedness and footedness in the past,” Fr. Vega, in the statement.

The selected photographs so far include a burial procession of the late Antonio Tongol in 1979 which showed the church’s side before renovation.

The photographs include a visit by Bishop Emilio A. Cinense in 1966, a wedding in 1948 showing the retablo mayor at the back of the altar, and a flood in 1993 that submerged the church by a meter after surviving the 1991 eruptions of Mt. Pinatubo.

PAMPANGA. The almost 400-year-old Sta. Monica church in Minalin town is set to be declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum on August 27. (Chris Navarro)

The parish-based CCHRC, Mayor Arturo “Katoy” Naguit and his brother Florencio worked to process the declaration of the church as an NCT -- the second in Pampanga after the St. James Church in Betis, Guagua.

The National Museum deemed the Sta. Monica Parish as an NCT for three reasons. Firstly, its façade features a unique giant retablo influenced by Christian, Buddhist, Hinduist and animistic cultures. Secondly, it is the only Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines having four capilla posas that remain intact to these days. The capilla posas reflect Spanish colonial religious discrimination as these were used by the Indios while the Peninsulares were the ones who entered the church. Thirdly, it owns an old painting depicting the Our Lady of Consolation giving the cords to Sta. Monica and her son St. Augustine. This painting is at the uppermost level of the retablo mayor, according to the statement.

The church houses also a mural that is dated 1614 and shows an old map of the town, said to be the seat of the Kapampangan region, according to a will by Francisco Malang Balagtas or Pansomun.

“The Sta. Monica Church and convent is probably a center of religious groups -- foremost Augustinians, Franciscans, Jesuits and Dominicans -- due to the presence of the images of St. Francis the Assisi , St. Dominic de Guzman and San Francisco Javier in the retablo and villages,” Fr. Vega said.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 08, 2011.

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