CEBU CITY – The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has declared the Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino de Cebu and the pilgrim image of Senor Sto. Niño (Child Jesus) as National Cultural Treasures.
The declaration was through unveiled markers coinciding with the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the first baptism in the country.
Dr. Rene Escalante, NHCP chairperson, said the twin declaration of two religious icons is the highest recognition the State can give to a particular built heritage.
Gracing the occasion aside from Escalante was the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Charles Brown, along with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, and friars from the Order of Saint Augustine (OSA), who run the Basilica.
The unveiled marker was Basilica’s fourth.
“On the part of National Historical Commission of the Philippines, we have installed three historical markers already, one for the church, which was unveiled in 1941, another one for the Magellan’s Cross which was also installed in the same year. The most recent is the marker for the Augustinian order I personally unveiled here three years ago,” Escalante said.
“The Basilica Minore is also a declared National Historical Landmark in 1973, the same status as that of the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan where the Philippine Republic, the first democracy in Asia, was born in 1899,” he added.
Escalante said that the declarations allow the cultural agencies to allocate funds for its conservation without violating the constitutional provision on the separation of Church and State.