MANILA CATHEDRAL REOPENS WEDNESDAY

“Reduced to the ground seven times” is how historians describe the Manila Cathedral Basilica which will be reopened tonight with President Aquino as special guest. Its restoration took more than a year. Ambassador Henrietta de Villa, in an exclusive query, noted that the worst and last time the cathedral was ravaged was in the 1945 bombing of Manila. After intense repairs, the cathedral again fulfilled its role not just as a landmark. For several decades, it witnessed countless joyous occasions such as weddings and also poignant events such as the well-attended wake of President Corazon Aquino. De Villa said it was Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, then the Archbishop of Manila, who decided in the early 2000s to undertake the restoration “to be sure about the structural integrity” of the cathedral following the “spate of earthquakes then in the country and around the world.”
De Villa said Rosales “wanted to make sure that the foundation of the Manila Cathedral Basilica was sound and strong.”
Rosales directed Msgr. Nestor C. Cerbo as cathedral rector to activate the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica Foundation. Cerbo, then turned to De Villa for help to contact people. The ambassador recalled that the first priority was to come up with a professional study of the cathedral’s structural integrity. “We contracted Angel Lazaro and Associates International (ALAI) to do this. Engineer Angel Lazaro is reputedly an authority on structural design and review. After a lengthy investigation of the soundness of the cathedral’s foundation, retrofitting and enhancing the structural foundation was strongly recommended,” she said. ALAI noted that while there was “sufficient foundational support,” pillars, bases and other key portions of the cathedral needed to be enhanced or retrofitted. “Retrofitting will make the foundation stronger and enable the cathedral to withstand pressure of tremors, vertical or horizontal, of earthquakes. While there can be no 100-percent guarantee against earthquakes of great magnitude, still with the retrofitting of the foundational structures there is a better chance for the cathedral to stand its ground,” De Villa explained. By then, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was already at the helm as the 32nd archbishop of Manila. The new cardinal ordered the cathedral’s closure so that repairs could begin. But once the cathedral was opened for repair, other defects were uncovered, the result of the wear and tear of time and usage. READ MORE...

ALSO: Your Lent city destination: The Manila Cathedral

NEO-ROMANESQUE design is best seen at night after after artistic lighting was installed. Designed by architect Fernando Ocampo, the current façade was based on a previous one by Vicente Serrano. One could tell that half of the selfies that will flood the Internet on Visita Iglesia this Holy Week will be taken in the renovated Manila Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Since its doors opened on Wednesday, nearly one in every two persons who entered the more than 400-year-old church in Intramuros had a camera or smart phone. And people would pose everywhere—on the steps, in front of the altar, right beside St. Peter’s impressive statue. A surreptitious click right up there on the pulpit would not be a surprise.
President Aquino attended the Mass celebrated by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. The Mass was called the Reopening Liturgy of the Manila Cathedral. Tagle described the event as “a day of rejoicing” and in a quivering voice, recalled how the faithful, from big corporations to the poor, gave what they could just so the Archdiocese of Manila would finish the retrofitting and restoration of the church. The cardinal recalled getting handfuls of coins and envelopes containing P50 from people who approached him after learning of the efforts of the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica Foundation Inc. (MMCBFI) to repair and strengthen the historic structure. Tagle mentioned acts “fueled by faith,” such as when various specialists like sound engineers and marble and soil experts consulted about the project, would invoke the name of the Virgin Mary when faced with challenges.“Para kay Mama Mary at sa simbahan, gagawin po namin lahat ng makakaya (For Mama Mary and the Church, we will do all that we can),” the cardinal quoted them. READ MORE, MORE PHOTOS...

EDITORIAL: Rejoice, Manila Cathedral is open again

We join Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and all the faithful Catholics of our country in rejoicing that our Manila Cathedral in Intramuros has been repaired, and after two years has become more well-lit and made stronger, more earthquake-proof. The re-opening ceremonies included Mass celebrated by his Eminence Cardinal Tagle. “Now we are all home. Welcome home. Welcome home to this house of the archdiocese, the home of our God, the home of our Mother,” he said to the large number of faithful who attended the ceremonies and filled the cathedral to overflowing. The CBCP News account said “an awe-struck Tagle noted how much more beautiful the Cathedral has become as he surveyed its brightly lit premises.” “I am empty-headed now. Seeing the beauty of the cathedral just overwhelms me, and seeing how this place of worship has become more beautiful is beyond my expectation and my capacity to express in words,” he said, Raymond Sebastian of CBCP News reported. Closing the cathedral and reinforcing its structure was one of the first decisions Cardinal Tagle made upon assuming the Archbishop of Manila seat in 2012. The formal name of the edifice is “The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica.” It is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, who is the Principal Patroness of the Philippines. The cathedral is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila. Miracles have been attributed through its 400 years of existence to the efficacy of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception’s intercession whenever the City of Manila faced dangers from marauders and invading forces. It is at the Plaza de Roma in the old walled Hispanic City of Manila, Intramuros. Called “the mother of Philippine churches” the Manila Cathedral has been damaged and razed many times. Cardinal Tagle recalled in his remarks that what stands now is the eighth cathedral. In his 30-minute homily, given in English and Tagalog, Archbishop Cardinal Tagle asked the congregation to pray for him. He thanked the donors who contributed to defray the cost of the structural repairs, the new lighting and sound system, and the beautification of the cathedral. He also thanked, among many others, the Apostolic nuncio, his predecessor Archbishop Cardinal Rosales, and the rector of the cathedral since 2002 Monsignor Nestor Cerbo. He warned the congregation about having false idols and exhorted them to “accord true worship only to God.” “If you have money as your god, then all you care for is what you have in your pocket. Because of this, you may not even give your employees their rightful due just so you can have more.” The homily, like a politician’s well received speech, was interrupted by, CBCP News said, “rounds of deafening applause.” No mention of RH Law. READ MORE.....


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

Manila Cathedral reopens Wednesday

MANILA, APRIL 7, 2014 (INQUIRER)  By Cathy Cañares-Yamsuan - “Reduced to the ground seven times” is how historians describe the Manila Cathedral Basilica which will be reopened tonight with President Aquino as special guest. Its restoration took more than a year.

Ambassador Henrietta de Villa, in an exclusive query, noted that the worst and last time the cathedral was ravaged was in the 1945 bombing of Manila.

After intense repairs, the cathedral again fulfilled its role not just as a landmark. For several decades, it witnessed countless joyous occasions such as weddings and also poignant events such as the well-attended wake of President Corazon Aquino.

De Villa said it was Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, then the Archbishop of Manila, who decided in the early 2000s to undertake the restoration “to be sure about the structural integrity” of the cathedral following the “spate of earthquakes then in the country and around the world.”

De Villa said Rosales “wanted to make sure that the foundation of the Manila Cathedral Basilica was sound and strong.”
Rosales directed Msgr. Nestor C. Cerbo as cathedral rector to activate the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica Foundation.

Cerbo, then turned to De Villa for help to contact people.

The ambassador recalled that the first priority was to come up with a professional study of the cathedral’s structural integrity.

“We contracted Angel Lazaro and Associates International (ALAI) to do this. Engineer Angel Lazaro is reputedly an authority on structural design and review. After a lengthy investigation of the soundness of the cathedral’s foundation, retrofitting and enhancing the structural foundation was strongly recommended,” she said.

ALAI noted that while there was “sufficient foundational support,” pillars, bases and other key portions of the cathedral needed to be enhanced or retrofitted.


Filipinos gather at the Manila Cathedral to witness its reopening after undergoing major structural repairs.

“Retrofitting will make the foundation stronger and enable the cathedral to withstand pressure of tremors, vertical or horizontal, of earthquakes. While there can be no 100-percent guarantee against earthquakes of great magnitude, still with the retrofitting of the foundational structures there is a better chance for the cathedral to stand its ground,” De Villa explained.

By then, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was already at the helm as the 32nd archbishop of Manila. The new cardinal ordered the cathedral’s closure so that repairs could begin.

But once the cathedral was opened for repair, other defects were uncovered, the result of the wear and tear of time and usage.

“The plumbing and electrical systems, chips in the arches, stains and cracks on the walls, discoloration of the baldachin and other parts of altar and chapels, water seeping into the crypt where the former archbishops of Manila—Archbishop Gabriel Reyes, Rufino Cardinal Santos, Jaime Cardinal Sin—are buried, all these and more became part of the restoration project,” De Villa said.

The ambassador pointed out that nothing new was added to the structure except for the lights, the sound system and a CCTV security system that was installed.

“I have to make mention of the new lighting system. It is marvelous,” she added.

Your Lent city destination: The Manila Cathedral By Cathy Yamsuan Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:49 am | Saturday, April 12th, 2014


NEO-ROMANESQUE design is best seen at night after after artistic lighting was installed. Designed by architect Fernando Ocampo, the current façade was based on a previous one by Vicente Serrano.

One could tell that half of the selfies that will flood the Internet on Visita Iglesia this Holy Week will be taken in the renovated Manila Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Since its doors opened on Wednesday, nearly one in every two persons who entered the more than 400-year-old church in Intramuros had a camera or smart phone.

And people would pose everywhere—on the steps, in front of the altar, right beside St. Peter’s impressive statue. A surreptitious click right up there on the pulpit would not be a surprise.

President Aquino attended the Mass celebrated by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. The Mass was called the Reopening Liturgy of the Manila Cathedral.

Tagle described the event as “a day of rejoicing” and in a quivering voice, recalled how the faithful, from big corporations to the poor, gave what they could just so the Archdiocese of Manila would finish the retrofitting and restoration of the church.

The cardinal recalled getting handfuls of coins and envelopes containing P50 from people who approached him after learning of the efforts of the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica Foundation Inc. (MMCBFI) to repair and strengthen the historic structure.

Tagle mentioned acts “fueled by faith,” such as when various specialists like sound engineers and marble and soil experts consulted about the project, would invoke the name of the Virgin Mary when faced with challenges.

“Para kay Mama Mary at sa simbahan, gagawin po namin lahat ng makakaya (For Mama Mary and the Church, we will do all that we can),” the cardinal quoted them.

Ceiling a challenge



There were also workers who, Tagle said, did nothing short of performance feats while working on the ceiling of the cathedral.

“Some portions of the ceiling could not be reached by the scaffolding so nakabitin sila (workers) para matapos lang ang trabaho. Naghihintay na lang ako ng tawag from (cathedral rector) Msgr. (Nestor) Cerbo (to report an accident). And I said to myself, hindi na lang ako sasagot,” the cardinal recalled light-heartedly.

There was also a choir who performed for free for a fund-raising benefit for the cathedral’s restoration.

The choir members agreed to sing pro bono, noting that they had performed countless times for brides and grooms who were married there, Tagle said.

The day after the cathedral reopened, all pews of the 2,000-seat capacity church were filled with people who heard the 12 noon Mass.

The four pairs of LED bulb-lit chandeliers hanging above the two rows of pews cast a soft glow on the faithful, complemented by the noonday sun.

Ventilation was adequate as all doors on the ground floor were opened.

(Just the night before, MMBCFI president and former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban said the cathedral’s old air-conditioning system is still awaiting a generous benefactor.)

Flat-screen TVs have been hoisted on the pillars beside the pews to give the prayerful a look at the altar in case the pillars blocked their view.

Airier, brighter



Just above, stained glass depictions of biblical events, including the Stations of the Cross, the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, the Infant Jesus’ baptism and the storm in the sea of Galilee, evoke a more reflective mood.

Churchgoers noted how the cathedral now looks brighter and airier.

The makeover took nearly two years.

Ambassador Henrietta de Villa, vice chair of the MMBCFI board of trustees, said it was Tagle’s predecessor Cardinal Gaudencio B. Rosales who initiated moves to improve the structure.

“There was a spate of earthquakes in the country and around the world and he wanted to make sure that the foundation of the (cathedral) was sound and strong,” she said in an email interview.

De Villa said Rosales directed Msgr. Cerbo as cathedral rector to lead the effort, and Cerbo turned to De Villa for help.

“First priority was to come up with a professional study of the cathedral’s structural integrity. We contracted Angel Lazaro and Associates International (ALAI) to do this,” De Villa said.

She added that engineer Lazaro was chosen for his reputation as “an authority in structural design and review.”

“ALAI reported that while there was sufficient foundation support—pillars, bases, etc.—this needed to be enhanced, or in engineering terms, retrofitted. Retrofitting will make the foundation stronger and enable the cathedral to withstand pressure of tremors, vertical or horizontal, of earthquakes,” De Villa said.

“While there can be no 100 percent guarantee against earthquakes of great magnitude, still with the retrofitting of the foundational structures there is a better chance for the cathedral to stand its ground. For the retrofitting job, excavations will have to be done in major parts of the (cathedral), hence its momentary closure was necessary,” she added.

It was Chief Justice Panganiban, who noted in a speech before the Reopening Liturgy on Wednesday, that the cathedral’s construction began in 1571.

In that era, what stood in front of the Plaza Roma was a simple parish church governed by the Diocese of Mexico. It became a separate diocese eight years later following a papal bull issued by Pope Gregory XII.

The original cathedral was built in 1581.

De Villa said the cathedral had been “reduced to the ground seven times” since then, the last being the 1945 bombing of Manila during World War II.

This means the structure that Rosales ordered examined was more than 50 years old, she added.

Panganiban said the cathedral had seen two visits of a pope— the first by Paul VI on Nov. 22, 1970, the second by John Paul II on Feb. 20, 1981.

It was John Paul II who issued a papal bull declaring the cathedral a minor basilica two months after his visit. It is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin as the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of the country.

By the time ALAI completed the tests on its structural integrity, Tagle had already succeeded Rosales as Manila Archbishop.

It was Tagle who approved the momentary closure of the cathedral two months after assuming office on Dec. 12, 2011, De Villa said.

“Just like any old house that is being renovated, once the cathedral was opened for repair or retrofitting, other defects were uncovered due to the wear and tear of time and usage,” she recalled.

Crypt

The plumbing and electrical systems were in bad need of repair. There were chips in the arches and stains and cracks on the walls.

The baldachin and other parts of the altar and chapels were discolored, and flood water seeped into the crypt where the former archbishops of Manila—Archbishop Gabriel Reyes, Rufino Cardinal Santos and Jaime Cardinal Sin—are buried.

All these areas were included in the restoration project.

Panganiban said DM Consunji was tapped as main and lead contractor.

De Villa identified SP Castro Inc. as the restoration manager of the project. She added that DM Consunji, SP Castro and ALAI donated their services to the church.

Panganiban also thanked generous donors, including Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corp. and George and Mary Ty of the Metrobank group, in his speech before the Mass.

According to De Villa, other benefactors were Justa Lee, Antonio Oppen and Bert Lina.

She noted that “nothing new” was added to the cathedral’s structure except for the new lights, the sound system and a CCTV security system.

De Villa said initial estimates for the project were pegged at P50 million. Cerbo said the final cost was P120 million.
Panganiban said more work is needed to complete the cathedral’s restoration.

Its current 13-bell carillon would soon be replaced by state-of-the-art set of 23 pieces to be imported from The Netherlands.

“And the antiquated air-conditioning has to be changed as soon as we find a kind donor,” he stressed.

The 7th MANILA CATHEDRAL in 1879 before the 2nd earthquake In 1880, another earthquake toppled its bell tower, rendering the cathedral towerless until 1958
RESTORATION works at the famous Intramuros landmark have so far cost about P120 million, according to its rector. PHOTO BY RAFFY LERMA The interior of the new Manila Cathedral (Photo by Marufish)
The newly opened MANILA CATHEDRAL (April 2014) The intricately carved doors of the Manila Cathedral reopened Wednesday to welcome the faithful in time for their Holy Week devotions.

EDITORIAL FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Rejoice, Manila Cathedral is open again pril 12, 2014 12:03 am


President Benigno Aquino III gets a sprinkling of holy water from Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle during the re-opening ceremony of the Manila Cathedral Basilica on April 9, 2014. (Bernard Testa/Pool/Interaksyon.com)

We join Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and all the faithful Catholics of our country in rejoicing that our Manila Cathedral in Intramuros has been repaired, and after two years has become more well-lit and made stronger, more earthquake-proof.

The re-opening ceremonies included Mass celebrated by his Eminence Cardinal Tagle.

“Now we are all home. Welcome home. Welcome home to this house of the archdiocese, the home of our God, the home of our Mother,” he said to the large number of faithful who attended the ceremonies and filled the cathedral to overflowing.

The CBCP News account said “an awe-struck Tagle noted how much more beautiful the Cathedral has become as he surveyed its brightly lit premises.”

“I am empty-headed now. Seeing the beauty of the cathedral just overwhelms me, and seeing how this place of worship has become more beautiful is beyond my expectation and my capacity to express in words,” he said, Raymond Sebastian of CBCP News reported.

Closing the cathedral and reinforcing its structure was one of the first decisions Cardinal Tagle made upon assuming the Archbishop of Manila seat in 2012.

The formal name of the edifice is “The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica.” It is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, who is the Principal Patroness of the Philippines. The cathedral is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila.

Miracles have been attributed through its 400 years of existence to the efficacy of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception’s intercession whenever the City of Manila faced dangers from marauders and invading forces. It is at the Plaza de Roma in the old walled Hispanic City of Manila, Intramuros.

Called “the mother of Philippine churches” the Manila Cathedral has been damaged and razed many times. Cardinal Tagle recalled in his remarks that what stands now is the eighth cathedral.

In his 30-minute homily, given in English and Tagalog, Archbishop Cardinal Tagle asked the congregation to pray for him. He thanked the donors who contributed to defray the cost of the structural repairs, the new lighting and sound system, and the beautification of the cathedral. He also thanked, among many others, the Apostolic nuncio, his predecessor Archbishop Cardinal Rosales, and the rector of the cathedral since 2002 Monsignor Nestor Cerbo.

He warned the congregation about having false idols and exhorted them to “accord true worship only to God.”

“If you have money as your god, then all you care for is what you have in your pocket. Because of this, you may not even give your employees their rightful due just so you can have more.”

The homily, like a politician’s well received speech, was interrupted by, CBCP News said, “rounds of deafening applause.”

No mention of RH Law

One of the most noticed things about the ceremonies on April 9 was the presence of the highest officials of the land and many celebrities. Foremost of these were, of course, President Benigno S. Cojuangco-Aquino 3rd and his siblings. Media showed photos of Cardinal Tagle and the President together, bonding happily like old comrades.

Interaksyon’s report had the title “Manila Cathedral reopens after two-year structural repairs” but had no story about the cathedral and the repairs and only published an album of President Aquino’s and his people’s photos with Cardinal Tagle. This angered some online readers.

Most remarkably missing from the Cardinal’s homily was any mention of the Reproductive Health Law.

Meanwhile, Malacañang’s propaganda machinery has made good use of the photos and the words of camaraderie between the Cardinal and the President.

Leaders of the Pro-Life movement—who oppose the RH law and do not think it was as much a victory of the Catholic Church’s position as it was of Planned Parenthood International and its people in the Philippines that including Filipino officials and congressmen and senators—fear that Cardinal Tagle is sending them a message to stop fighting against abortion, contraception and the Culture of Death being advanced by President Aquino and his Cabinet.

We hope and pray the Pro-Life leaders are wrong to have this fear.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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