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Ramon Ang boosts fundraising for Manila Cathedral with P50 million donation

(The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle presided recently at the regular board of trustees meeting of the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilicia Foundation, Inc., (MMCBFI).  The group discussed matters regarding the massive repair and restoration of the Manila Cathedral.  The meeting was held at the residence of Danny Dolor.

In early 2011, the plan to restore the cathedral was initiated and started by then Archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, when he asked the old bells to be brought down from the bell tower, which are now housed in a display area at the Cathedral.  A fundraising by the friends of the Manila Cathedral followed.  However, since the cathedral itself was in danger due to soil liquefaction, a more detailed and more encompassing restoration work was planned.  Soil liquefaction strains the building’s foundation and the main arches that carry the weight of the ceiling and roof.  According to Msgr. Cerbo, the cracks on the ceilings and walls, which can be seen from below, led to the decision to close the Cathedral to the public.  This was ordered by His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in January 2012.

The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica Foundation, Inc. has begun the appeal to everyone to save this historical landmark and popular venue of significant church gatherings by way of donations.

The big kickoff for the fundraising was when retired Justice Artemio V. Panganiban approached San Miguel Corporation president Ramon Ang, who generously donated P50 million.

From the book, Landmarks of Manila, by Visitacion “Chit” R. dela Torre, the following historical notes narrate: “On the same pre-Spanish site where stood a Muslim settlement, this cathedral rose to be the first parochial church of Manila in 1571.  Made of bamboo and nipa, it was erected by an Augustinian priest, Fr. Juan de Vivero for Miguel Lopez de Legaspi’s troops.  It was converted into the Manila Cathedral on December 21, 1581 on the strength of a Papal Bull issued by Pope Gregory XIII and under the administration of Manila’s first bishop, Msgr. Domingo de Salazar, O.P.  Destroyed no less than five times, the Cathedral was rebuilt each time, asserting spirit over structure.”

Interesting anecdotes lend color to this primary church of the Archdiocese of Manila.  For instance, it lost its silver and jewelry to make up for the one million pesos demanded by the British when they occupied Manila.  Then during the earthquake in 1883, discovered among its wreckage were the bodies of two Filipino priests: Fr. Pedro Pelaez (regarded by some as the first prophet of the Propaganda Movement) and Fr. Pedro Pablo Ponce de Leon.

The cathedral, at one time or another, contained the remains of the benign yet audacious Governor-General Simon de Anda in the catacomb, served as an asylum for fugitives from justice during the hospital for wounded American soldiers, and as the site of a Te Deum on the occasion of the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines on November 15, 1935.

When the Manila Cathedral was destroyed in 1945, all its ecclesiastical functions and religious services were transferred to San Agustin Church.  Even the title of Immaculate Conception to which the Manila Cathedral was dedicated, was given to San Agustin officially.  Restored and inaugurated in 1958, the Cathedral resumed its ecclesiastical and religious administration but never took back its title  from San Agustin.  Strangely enough, its records of baptisms, confirmations, and marriages, are always handed over to San Agustin for official record purposes.

ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA ARCHDIOCESE OF MANILA CATHEDRAL COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES DANNY DOLOR GAUDENCIO CARDINAL ROSALES MANILA MANILA CATHEDRAL SAN AGUSTIN
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