THE UNSHAKEABLE SPIRIT OF BOHOL AND CEBU / IF THE STONES COULD SPEAK




MANILA, NOVEMBER 4, 2013
(PHILSTAR) The Philippine STAR chief photographer Val Rodriguez captures scenes of the devastation in the aftermath of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Cebu and Bohol, and affected many other nearby provinces, on October 15.

Amidst the rubble are flashes of hope as Filipinos from all over the nation band together to help Cebuanos and Boholanos rebuild their provinces.

Despite the major damage to roads, buildings, homes, tourist spots, and historical sites, the Filipino spirit remains unshakeable.

 
 
A funeral mass was being held in the Dauis Church in Bohol at the time of the quake. The rubble from the building, which was completed in 1897, now fills the hearse left in front of the church. On the Cover: At early dawn, a guard keeps watch over what is left of the Sto. Niño Church in Cebu.

A tattered flag still flies in front of Dauis Church in Bohol.

A religious icon housed in a glass case, left remarkably intact, is the only survivor at a church in Loay, Bohol.

Amidst the ruins, the Cebuanos’ faith remains steadfast as they light candles and offer prayers at the Sto. Niño Church in Cebu.

Bright yellow caution tape cordons off the ruins of the centuries-old Fort San Pedro in Cebu.

Patients from the Cebu City Medical Center are transferred to a nearby basketball court when damage from the quake and fear of aftershocks rendered the hospital building unsafe.
Workers remove the belfry that has fallen among the debris of the Sto. Niño Church in Cebu.
 
Worry and despair are etched on the face of a Sto. Niño devotee as she views the destruction wrought on the church by the earthquake
Relief goods flown in from Manila on a military C-130 plane are unloaded in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

 


MADONNA STATUE AMID RUBBLE A statue of the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus is set at a makeshift altar before a pile of stones that was the 180-year-old Our Lady of Light Church in Loon, Bohol province, a day after a 7.2-magnitude quake destroyed the church. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Though still struggling, Bohol folk mark ‘Undas’ By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 1, 2013 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

A resident in Loon town in Bohol checks a relative’s tomb damaged by the recent killer earthquake. JOVEN CAGANDE

MANILA, Philippines - Despite the death and destruction from the recent earthquake, the people of Bohol are expected to visit cemeteries and remember departed relatives on All Saints’ Day today and All Souls’ Day tomorrow.

Tagbilaran Cathedral parish priest Fr. Val Pinlac said Boholanos have a very strong connection with the dead.

“That is really something sacred for us,” he said.

“Even with this tragedy, the people would still go even more to pray for their dead. For them, to forget the dead in the midst of this situation is a great sin or a big, big sin for us.”

The priest foresees no substantial decrease in the number of visitors to cemeteries in Bohol.

“So we would expect hundreds and thousands who would flock to the cemeteries even if the cemeteries are already in ruins and there are bodies that have been dislocated because their tombs have been damaged,” he said.

He said Boholanos have a strong faith that would help them get through tragedy and rebuild their lives.

“Life must go on. Even if Bohol is shaken now, the earth has already moved so it is time to let heaven move,” he said. “It is time to move heaven, for the Boholanos to pray.”

As of 2 p.m. yesterday, 3,125 aftershocks have been recorded in Bohol, but only 84 have been felt, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.

FROM THE CEBU DAILY NEWS

If the stones could speak Past Forward By Jobers Bersales Cebu Daily News 2:44 pm | Thursday, October 31st, 2013

If the stones could speak, then work would be easier.

That is insofar as piecing together all the debris that has fallen on the grounds of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.

These past two weeks, a team from Escuela Taller in Intramuros and archaeologists from Manila have begun quietly sorting and making sense of the coral rubble that was once part of the third body or story of the basilica belfry.


[RAW] Collapse of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño's bell tower

They were joined yesterday by my students in Cebu who are trained in archaeology, including two museum curators, Audrey Dawn Tomada of the Halad Musem and Maria Cecilia Cabañes of Museo Sugbo. Cabañes has to learn what to do with these stones especially since some of the perimeter coral stone wall of the Museo Sugbo is in danger of collapse.

Among the graduate students in archaeology on site is a former chair of the fine arts department at USC, Brenda Seno, whose expertise in illustration will come in handy.

Why archaeologists, one might ask. The answer is simple: because archaeologists are used to the tedious (and oftentimes boring) work of measuring, weighing, cataloguing and profiling shells, bones, pottery and ceramic sherds, broken fragments that are each numbered and recorded.

Although the stones at the basilica are not buried, they may as well have been and it would not matter to us archaeologists. The job, however is, in a sense, less tasking because my students do not have to dig the rubble up from, say, one meter beneath the surface. And the volunteer archaeologists from Manila led by Dr. Grace Barretto-Tesoro of the University of the Philippines Archaeological Studies Program have already done the task of separating rubble from dressed stones.

If only the stones at the basilica could speak, then we would no longer be there to do scientific measurements, illustrations and photography. These stones would simply tell the architects and engineers where they were before the earthquake shook last October 15.

Alas, these stones are but silent witnesses to the disaster and they have no one to speak for them but these young men and women whose job is to try to understand these thousands of pieces and prepare them for their eventual return up on the belfry.

The task is, I believe, a noble one but also as daunting as the restoration of the belfry that will come later once this documentation work is done. The earthquake could not have struck at a more important time than this.

In 2015, this church dedicated to the Sto. Niño de Cebu will mark its 50th year as a Basilica Minore, a declaration made by Pope Paul VI in 1965 on the 400th anniversary of the beginning of Christianization in the Philippines.

In 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the Spanish conquistador, docked in Cebu and a day later a sailor of his, Juan Camus, found the tiny image of the Sto. Niño right at the very spot where the church now stands.

The image had been kept in a pine box and tied with other boxes, a memento that marked its travails, from being brought to the island by Ferdinand Magellan in the ill-fated 1521 expedition, to being given away upon the request of the wife of Rajah Humabon days after her christening as Juana.

The year 2015 will be the 450th anniversary of that event. And a year later, the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) will be held in Cebu in late January, with Pope Francis expected to drop by at this most holy of places for Cebuano Catholics.

The pressure is strongest therefore for the Augustinian priests administering the basilica to find a way to stabilize the church and its belfry even as time moves ever faster.

One can only imagine how the Sinulog festivities and rites at the basilica would fare in January next year even as the belfry will most probably still stand unrestored, waiting for these stones to finally find their place. That is, with the help of those volunteers now painstakingly documenting each and every piece so that none will go to waste.

One day these stones will once again proudly look down on the faithful as they flock once more to the beloved abode of their faith.

Restoring fallen heritage churches By Jobers Bersales Cebu Daily News 12:35 pm | Thursday, October 17th, 2013
  


A pile of rubble is seen inside the centuries-old Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Baclayon, Bohol on Thursday, October 17, two days after a magnitude-7.2 earthquake hit Central Visayas and damaged several historical sites. The NCCA is studying the possibilities of restoring the damaged churches back to its old glory. The Baclayon church was constructed in 1717 right after the town became a parish area. The current building was completed in 1727. Mariz Umali

I was at the University of San Carlos Downtown Campus (formerly its main campus) supervising the preparations for an upcoming exhibition jointly curated with the National Archives of the Philippines when the earthquake occurred.

This is not my first time to experience such a tremor. There was that one last year on my birthday and the massively devastating one that killed 17,000 in Pagadian after a tsunami followed its wake during the early hours of August 17, 1976.

But every tremor elicits a feeling of panic and no matter how one goes through it many times over, the experience is always harrowing one.

The most tragic result of the quake is the fate that now awaits the most severely damaged of about 18 churches in Bohol as well as the belfry of the Basilica del Sto. Niño.

The strong faith of Cebuanos in the miraculous Sto. Niño will most probably speed up fund raising to restore this bell tower. The cost itself would be relatively minimal compared to the massive expenditure that will be required to bring back the old glory of the Loboc and Baclayon churches – and those are just two of five or six churches in total that will need a massive infusion of both conservation experts and money to rebuild them.

The church in Loon, now nothing more than a rubble pile is, without doubt, the most difficult to bring back to its original look. It will in fact be many times cheaper to build a new church over the ruins of the old one. But Bohol, like Cebu, is known for its peoples’ strong belief in miracles and in surviving the odds. It would thus not surprise me if all the Bol-anons all over the world will pour in their financial resources to bring about millions of dollars that will be required just to get this one church to stand proudly once more.

The only caveat– and itself a massive hurdle – is how to go beyond environmental laws, get an exemption perhaps, and extract huge coral stones from the sea, cut them to sizes akin to those that were there in the church before they all exploded due to the pressure from the earthquake.

Alternatively, and this is where modern Cebuano techniques in stonecraft will probably help, one can develop ‘stones’ with a near likeness to the old coral stones using science and craftsmanship

I can also think of one model that can be looked into in restoring these churches. On Sept. 26, 1997 two earthquakes struck the central region of Italy in rapid succession, registering 5.5 and 6.1 on the Richter Scale.

One of the aftershocks that followed the quake resulted in the destruction of the ceiling vault of the Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, killing some conservation experts who were there on an inspection tour of the ceiling frescoes.

The basilica, constructed between 1228 and 1253 is the mother church of the Franciscans, or more formally, the Order of the Friars Minor (OFM). It is here where the remains of St. Francis are interred, making it an important part of the pilgrimage trail.

Unlike the papal basilica, however, the ceiling of these damaged churches in Bohol is made of wood and not of travertine or some other kind of cut stone and mortar. That will make it easier to bring back, speaking in relative terms of course.

The more difficult one will be the walls and façade of these churches. Classic Roman construction techniques were used by the Spaniards, adapted to tropical conditions, in the construction of these churches. Designed to withstand cannon fire from Moro raiders and other marauders, these church walls were all one-meter thick or even more.

Their foundations went down to something like six meters made mostly of huge trunks of hardwood trees cut to size and piled down through the sandy-clayish soil. Upon this foundation were poured the ‘argamasa’, a mixture of coral rubble (graba made of coral stones and limestone together with fine sand and as binder, ‘apog’ or lime together with the sticky sap of the lauat tree as well as egg whites.

The argamasa was poured in between a kind of formwork using ‘amakan’, woven bamboo strips. Once dried, coral stones cut to size were then attached over these rough walls which were the finished with a thin layer of lime mortar and fine sand. Over time, however, this finishing would erode because of rain and the elements and out would come the cut coral stones that we still see in colonial churches today.

That is more or less the process that will be attempted by whoever will reconstruct these churches. But, like the papal basilica, modern methods and techniques of shoring up these structures in order to prevent them from standing rigid and thus explode during an earthquake will have to be injected into the process. I believe this is where the methodology applied in the papal basilica as well as 23 other heritage structures that were restored over time in Assisi will come in handy.

The cost, as I keep repeating here, will be tremendous. But we all dodged the bullet in last Tuesday’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake the likes of which was never experienced before by Cebuanos and Boholanos alike.

And one way to be thankful that we all survived is to start supporting the restoration not just of these churches but of the lives of our fellows who were not as lucky as we were.

Gov't seeks experts' assistance in restoring heritage sites(philstar.com) | Updated October 17, 2013 - 10:00pm 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The government invited today foreign experts to help in the restoration of damaged historical churches in central provinces of Bohol and Cebu due to recent deadly earthquake.

Some 10 historical churches, the oldest was built as early as 1595, were destroyed from the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that jolted central Philippines last Tuesday and killed at least 158 people.

"What we need in terms of assistance also from our international friends would be experts in restoring churches, restoring all these national treasures. These are already heritage sites," said Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a news briefing.

He said that Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. is one among the Cabinet officials actively involved in the restoration of the churches since they are part of eco-tourism.

In a separate statement, Jimenez said that his office ought to find ways to speed up recovery of the affected areas, "especially that tourism is a major industry fueling our economies."

Though there are some tours still being carried out, areas severely affected by the earthquake were off-limits to the public, he said. These include the Basilica del Sto. Nino and Fort San Pedro in Cebu, the Baclayon Church and Dauis Church in Bohol, and its other heritage churches.

A magnitude 7.2 quake jolted Bohol and parts of the Visayas and Mindanao regions at 8:12 a.m. Tuesday local time with a depths of 33 km.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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