CEBU -- The old churches that attracted the faithful and the curious to Bohol remain in rubble a year after the magnitude-7.2 earthquake last October 15, 2013.
The National Government -- through the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Museum, and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) -- set aside P650 million to reconstruct or restore national heritage sites in Bohol that the earthquake affected, including 25 churches of the Diocese of Tagbilaran.
Bohol church officials said the process of restoration and rebuilding can be tedious. Church sites have to be assessed if they are still safe, and the restoration plan has to be studied and discussed with heritage experts.
Funds, on the other hand, come in trickles.
Bishop Leonardo Medroso of the Diocese of Tagbilaran said funding from government has to go through the process. “You know how our government works with the bureaucracy and all. Government commissions are very eager to start reconstruction but then again, the release of the funds is delayed,” he said.
In Cebu, churches that were damaged by last year’s earthquake are slowly being restored despite limited funds.
Among these churches is the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, which lost the upper half of its belfry during the quake.
Fr. Brian Brigoli, chairman of the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission on Culture and Heritage, said 12 damaged churches are undergoing repair and restoration.
He said the restoration plan factors in design features that would make the churches withstand strong earthquakes.
In Bohol, three national heritage churches were reduced to nothing but a pile of rubble.
These are the Parroquia de la Santa Cruz in Maribojoc, Nuestra Señora de la Luz in Loon and the St. Peter the Apostle Church in Loboc.
According to the Bohol Rehabilitation Plan, the reconstruction of these churches alone would cost P300 million.
Twenty-two other churches in Bohol were either damaged or destroyed. Fifteen of them, including the St. Michael Church of Clarin, are not heritage sites.