AS we often say, how time flies. That photo on the front page of yesterday’s issue of SunStar Cebu showed a fully restored La Purisima Concepcion de la Virgen Maria church in Baclayon town in Bohol. The church looks grand again after it was damaged by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu in October 2013.
For the first time since the earthquake struck, a mass was held inside the church, which was part of the turnover rites of the new structure from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to the Diocese of Tagbilaran. The NHCP had previously declared the structure as a national historical landmark.
The Baclayon church, though, was but one of the 10 churches in Bohol that was damaged by the tremor. The main structures of the San Pedro Apostol church in Loboc town, for example, suffered more serious damage. Not only were the convent and the bell tower hit, the intricate facade of the church completely crumbled.
Those churches have been most difficult to repair or restore, unlike those that suffered minor damage like the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño and some churches in Cebu Province. Aside from the Loboc church, three others, the Parroquia de la Sta Cruz church in Maribojoc, the Nuestra Señora de la Luz church in Loon town and the Sto. Niño Parish Church in Cortes town are still to be fully rebuilt.
The work takes time, money, and lots of research, considering the damage and the need to be true to the original structure. Besides, many factors intruded into the initial phase of the reconstruction, including flooding, limestone cavities, landslides, etc. The condition of the materials that were salvaged from the sites had also deteriorated, having been exposed to the elements.
Even then, the effort and the focus has been continuing, even with the change in presidents from Benigno Aquino III to Rodrigo Duterte. Which makes the turnover rites at the Baclayon church a welcome development. Meanwhile, since the Loboc church became the lasting image of the quake’s devastation, with the photo of the crumbled structure going viral online, we would like to see it rise again soon.