In Negros Oriental, Siquijor Old churches’ restoration starts
Raffy T. Cabristante (The Freeman) - August 18, 2018 - 12:00am

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines —The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has begun the restoration of four old churches in Negros Oriental and Siquijor, which are expected to be fully renovated and preserved by the first quarter of 2019.


NHCP Chairman Rene Escalante told reporters on Monday that his agency has invested a total of P37,750,000 for the restoration of the four churches: the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church in Dauin town, and two San Isidro Labrador parish churches in Zamboanguita town— all in Negros Oriental, and one more in Lazi, Siquijor.

This will be derived from P70 million budget the NHCP has allotted for Negros Oriental this year, he said, adding that the province is among those who have the biggest budget allotments from the agency.

The restoration process of these churches will include repairing their structural problems, and eventually beautifying these structures, inside and out.

“Preserving our heritage is our mandate. Itong mga historical structures were built during the American and Spanish period. Meron po itong tourism value, meron din itong sentimental value, and some of these are still functional,” he said.

For his part, Department of Tourism-7 (DOT-7) Regional Director Shalimar Tamano said that restoring these churches will significantly benefit the tourism of both Negros Oriental and Siquijor, as churches are among the top destinations that Chinese, Korean, and Japanese tourists visit when in the Philippines.

“We are the only Catholic country in Asia. For them, (our churches) are really foreign. This is like, for them, going to Europe but not having to take the 12-hour flight. They just go to Negros and see these artifacts,” Tamano said, adding that good tourism will mean more employment opportunities for locals.

Tamano also congratulated the local government of Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental for its recent recognition as the “premier retirement haven” in the Philippines by the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA). “This is one of the outputs and products of the close relationship of the government and the church.”

On the other hand, Escalante also noted the NHCP has also taken into consideration the prospect of restoring the well-known Dumaguete Belfry near the city’s cathedral. According to their initial assessment, the belfry is starting to develop issues on its structural integrity.

However, he clarified that this is still in the works and they have yet to receive a proposal to restore the Dumaguete Belfry.

Escalante and Tamano were in the province on Monday to lead the launch of their program called “Conservation Goes to the Province,” a weeklong training program that taught clergymen and cultural enthusiasts on how to preserve historical structures and artifacts in Negros Oriental.

It ran from August 13 to 17 and was held at the St. Augustine of Hippo Parish Church in Bacong town.

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