MANILA, Philippines – The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) recommended the restoration of St. Anne parish church in Ilocos Norte.
NCCA sent technical professionals, composed of structural engineers, to assess the 204-year-old church in Ilocos Norte. The evaluation showed that the church required urgent repair and rehabilitation.
“The wooden trusses are deteriorating and its foundation has apparently loosened over the years. Water does not only seep in from above, there’s water also coming from the ground. Strengthening the foundation alone would cost us millions of pesos,” Fr. Joey Ranjo, spokesperson of the Diocese of Laoag said.
As there is no accessible fund yet, Laoag Bishop Renato Mayugba ordered the church’s closure noting a report from the Piddig municipal engineer that the building was “unfit for human occupancy.”
On Sept. 14, Mayugba celebrated Mass and closing rites for the St. Anne parish church.
Ranjo said the St. Anne parish church would be kept for its historical significance but the parish will not make use of the building for Masses and other religious rites because the unstable structure might endanger churchgoers.
Steps to proclaim the 204-year-old St. Anne parish church as a heritage structure were initiated by local administrators.
The Piddig municipality committee deliberated on a draft resolution seeking this status.
Once the NHCP grants the application, the local government would seek funding from either the NHCP or the NCCA to restore the church.
Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas supported the plan and offered to endorse the proposal from the city government.
Ranjo said if restoration turns out to be too costly, the diocese may raise funds to preserve the church while building a new structure.
Fr. Lorenzo Torreflores, the parish priest, started a fund-raising activity for the church’s restoration.
Mayor Eduardo Guillen said the local government could shoulder the P1 million cost of supplies and equipments needed to build a temporary church for Piddig parishioners.
The other notable churches in Ilocos Norte have undergone restoration or have also been discerned for repairs, church officials said.
With report from Cyra Moraleda