LOBOC, BOHOL— After seven years of devastation to infrastructures–particularly to Catholic churches–due to an earthquake with intensity of 7.2 magnitude that struck the island on Oct. 15, 2013, the famous Loboc Church was restored to its original condition and form and reopened on Sunday, May 16.
The restoration of the Loboc church was supervised by the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) and was turned over to the Diocese of Tagbilaran, which has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the town. Materials that were retrieved after the earthquake were documented and either reused or restored.
The church’s restoration signified the Filipinos’ resiliency and faith in the midst of adversity, said Tagbilaran Bishop Alberto Uy. “Now, we can marvel at this heritage asset once more and continue our efforts in preserving our faith and heritage for generations to come,” the prelate said.
Damage to the bill tower and edifice were compounded by another disaster, typhoon “Seniang” that buried artifacts and other religious relics in the mud when the Loboc River overflowed and flooded the town. It was considered the worst flood that hit Loboc in 70 years, making the work of the NMP so taxing.
The restoration process started in December 2017, wherein NMP had to retrieve the items or the artifacts buried in the rubble and in the mud and place them in a constructed storage facility. The NMP restored the church’s side and main “retablos” (altar pieces) and its ceiling paintings along with its connecting convent, built in 1734.
In 1998, the National Historical Institute, now called the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, declared the Loboc church a national historical landmark. In 2001, it was declared a national cultural treasure and was the first cultural property of the NMP in Bohol.
At present, the NMP is supervising the ongoing reconstruction of two other heritage churches in Bohol: The Sta. Cruz Parish Church in Maribojoc town and the Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish Church in Loon town. Both churches, which were also destroyed during the 2013 earthquake, were likewise declared as national cultural treasures by the NMP.
Photo: Zen Rooms