P5M Jaro Belfry  restoration set
P5M Jaro Belfry restoration set
- May Joven () - April 11, 2012 - 12:00am

ILOILO CITY, Philippines – The restoration of the unique and historical Jaro Belfry in Iloilo City is now underway after the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) has allocated P5million fund for the project.

The restoration project of the belfry, situated between the Jaro Cathedral and the plaza, started when the TIEZA team inspected the site recently.

Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the development will make the Jaro center one of the major tourist attractions in the metropolis.

Representative Jerry Treñas (lone city district) filed House Bill 4957 seeking to declare Jaro Cathedral as one of the city’s “legislated tourist sites” along with Molo Church, Central Business District (CBD) and Fort San Pedro.

Jaro Cathedral, which draws faithful and devotees to the miraculous Our Lady of Candles, has been declared a national pilgrimage site by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. Its belfry is one of the few in the country that stands apart from the church.

History noted the belfry of the “New Cathedral” was the former tower of Jaro church built by Fray Ilanos in 1826-1837. It was ruined by a 1948 magnitude 8.6 earthquake and restored by the city government in the 1990s.

Iloilo City Tourism Officer Ben Jimena said the city created Task Force Restore Jaro Belfry to jumpstart the belfry restoration project, because the present state of the structure needs repair and renovation to restore its stately form.

Engineering works committee shall determine the scope of work and estimate repair cost, undertake repair of the structure, and provide labor and materials for the renovation, Jimena said.

There was an old photo of the original belfry at Isabelita building in the Cathedral compound, and observers said the new structure does not match with the proportion of the original and the statues on the four corners were missing.

Jimena said there are efforts now to locate and bring back the statues of Four Virtues in their original locations. He said the statues were believed to have been brought to Manila but their specific whereabouts were not immediately known and nobody knew who took these down.

He said the restoration project would also involve cleaning up of the surrounding areas, repairing the steel stairs, replacing broken window panes and clearing external walls of weeds. The area would also be planted with ornamental plants, as part of the landscaping design, and that the bamboo perimeter fence be replaced with steel, said Jimena.

To make the belfry more attractive to tourists, a tourist information center with souvenir shops will be established, to be initiated by the city tourism office in coordination with other departments.

Policy direction shall be assigned to the barangay and church partner organizations – by way of setting up guidelines for the operation of enterprise, and by harmonizing and connecting the sector programs and activities with the belfry project, said Jimena.                                                      

The Jaro Plaza will have drainage repair and land filling as the war memorial monument, bandstand and miraculous fountain.  - THE FREEMAN  

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