LUBAO -- The 442-year-old San Agustin Church, a historic and religious symbol of the Catholic faith for thousands of Lubaoeños in this town was declared an "Important Cultural Property" (ICP) by the National Museum on Monday.
Carmencita D.R. Mariano, Cultural Property Officer of the National Museum told Sun.Star Pampanga that the ICP is the second highest title or recognition that the National Museum bestows. She said that in order to be declared as an ICP, certain things should be considered like the historical and spiritual significance of the church or structure to the lives of the people.
"We have to consider yung spiritual significance sa lives ng mga tao, kung meron bang napagaling, may mga himalang nangyari. Hindi natin makikita sa mga bagong structure iyon kundi sa mga old churches gaya nito," Mariano said.
She explained that the San Agustin Church was not able to make it to the National Cultural Treasure category because what remains of its original structure is less than 60 percent.
Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab, for her part, said the Catholic community of her hometown are elated and considers the ICP declaration as a blessing.
"Napakahalaga nito (ICP) di lang sa akin kundi sa mga Lubaoeños. Iyung katungkulan ko bilang isang Katoliko hindi bilang mayor, na may naitulong ako sa aming simbahan ay malaking bagay. Una sa faith ay lalong makikilala ng mga Kapampangan na ang Pampanga ay hindi lang lugar kung saan nila matatagpuan ang mga magagandang simbahan kundi ito (San Agustin Church) ay isa pinakamatandang simbahan sa buong bansa," said Cayabyab.
Cayabyab said that the church is not a museum, but because of its historical, spiritual and structural significance and as one of the oldest standing Catholic churches in the Philippines, it will be visited more often by the faithful.
"Hindi siya museum pero dahil mas malaki ang bilang ng Katoliko sa Pilipinas ay maraming pupuntang Katoliko dito, hindi lang para makita ang simbahan kundi magdasal," Cayabyab said.
Rev. Fr. Joseph Theodore Valencia said that because of the strong devotion and faith of the people of Lubao, it is common that "everyday miracles do happen."
Also present during the declaration and unveiling of the marker were Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Board Members Salvador Dimson, Jr., Anthony Torres, Vice Mayor Robertito Diaz, councilors, barangay chairmen and guests priests. (Chris Navarro)