MANILA. The National Museum of the Philippines received this series of early 19th century panels depicting the founder of the Augustinian Order from private collectors Edwin and Aileen Bautista.
MANILA. The National Museum of the Philippines received this series of early 19th century panels depicting the founder of the Augustinian Order from private collectors Edwin and Aileen Bautista.Photo from NMP

NCCA official optimistic about return of pulpit panels to Boljoon church

A REPRESENTATIVE of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) expressed optimism that the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) will return the four pulpit panels of the Patrocinio de Maria church in Boljoon town, southern Cebu, to their original location.

This was announced by NCCA Chairman Victorino Manalo during his meeting with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

In an interview with Sugbo News following the meeting, Manalo said, “I think there’s a very big chance, but it really depends on the answer of the National Museum (of the Philippines),” adding that he would need to meet with NMP Director General Jeremy Barns, who is also a member of the NCCA Board.

Ivan Henares, NCCA commissioner on cultural heritage, and Joseph Patrick Lee, NCCA Cultural Properties Protection and Regulation Division chief, joined Manalo during the meeting.

Jose Eleazar Bersales, a member of the NCCA advisory board and a Capitol consultant on heritage and museums, was also in attendance.

Heard the cries

Manalo informed the governor that during their previous visit to the Boljoon Parish Church, they had heard the locals’ cries for the prompt return of the pulpit panels to the church, which are presently on display at the NMP.

“We will work with the National Museum to work out the best solution para atong madungog ang mga gi-request sa mga tawo kanilang mga gihangyo (to address the requests made by the people),” he said.

The four panels in question, which adorned the old pulpit of Boljoon Church, are carved with pictures of Augustinian saints, as the church was founded more than 400 years ago by Augustinian friars.

They were declared lost in the 1980s.

These panels resurfaced on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, at the NMP, where they had been donated by a private collector.

Since then, Governor Garcia, Boljoon Mayor Joie Genesse Derama and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, in unison, have requested Director Barns to return these religious and cultural treasures immediately, as they legitimately belong in Boljoon and not in the NMP. / TPT with PR

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