400 year-old cross declared ‘important cultural treasure’

LUBAO -- The National Museum unveiled Monday a marker here declaring the venerated wooden cross of Santa Cruz Parish in Barangay Santa Cruz as an Important Cultural Treasure.

A radiocarbon dating test revealed that the cross is more than 400 years old which sees to support claims that the cross is the same the Spanish military leader Martin De Goiti used to pacify the town during the early years of the Spanish conquest.

Provincial Tourism Officer Arwin Lingat told Sun.Star Pampanga that aside from the age of the cross, the mere fact that it has become an object of sincere veneration and a focal point of faith proves it worthy of the distinction.

A cultural treasure is defined as a cultural property that is a unique object found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is significant and important to the country.

The parish hosts a grand feast for the cross every May 3 and also observes the September 14 feast of the Exaltation of the Cross started by Monsignor Antonio Bustos.

The declaration was presided by Carmencita de los Mariano of the National Museum's Cultural Property Division, Mayor Mylene Cayabyab, and Auxiliary Bishop Pablo David. Bishop David is also part of the Permanent Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Church of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

Lingat said that the declaration re-affirms the importance of the icon in the community and in the overall provincial heritage.

The declaration will also attract attention to the image among pilgrims and a boost to local religious tourism.

The cross is estimated to be as old as the Catholic faith in Pampanga.

Prominent Photographer and cultural writer Ruston Banal said that Lubao was part of a bustling community long before the arrival of the Spaniards in the third quarter of the 16th century.

Along with Betis, it was subjugated by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, renaming a native town to Santa Cruz that logically hispanized the place which was then under the rule of a Rajah named Macabulos.

The Spanish military leader Martin De Goiti pacified Macabulos.

Goiti was also the one responsible in building the San Agustin Church and gave Macabulos a gift that is a black cross, which the latter buried in certain spot in the village of Santa Cruz before he left the town and settled in Tarlac.

Dug in the 1800s, the black cross is the one put on the center niche on the retablo of the Holy Cross Parish Church in Santa Cruz, according to Banal.

No documentary evidence, however, supports this story. The carbon dating results, on the other hand, provides clues to the age of the cross.

The carbon dating was initiated by researcher Rodrigo Sicat and Pineda-Cayabyab.

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