THE strongest quake to hit Central Visayas in 20 years destroyed historic churches, most of them centuries-old and considered national treasures.
As officials continue to assess the extent of the devastation wrought by the 7.2 temblor, the people of Bohol may soon have to hear mass outdoors or in safe buildings because all the churches there were damaged. Bishop Leonardo Medroso of Tagbilaran confirmed on Tuesday that eight historical churches were heavily damaged while one was “razed down.”
“Almost all were affected, the whole of Bohol, especially the old churches,” Mejia said.
The bishop said they will have to close all churches.
“Yes we will close all churches in Bohol, mahirap na may mga aftershocks, mahirap na baka mayroong mangyari,” he added.
He said that the city of Tagbilaran will consult the national heritage experts to assess the damage on historic churches in Bohol and to determine if they can be restored.
“We will also raise funds,” Medroso said.
Bohol has 50 big churches, the prelate said.
The famed Loboc church or the Church of San Pedro, crumbled during the quake. The church, constructed in 1602, is the second oldest in the province.
The Baclayon church, also known as The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, was also damaged. The churches in Loboc and Baclayon are being preserved by the National Museum.
The quake also destroyed the Dauis church (Church of Our Lady of Assumption) and the Loay church, which was built in 1822.
Other Bohol churches that were damaged by the quake were the Church of Our Lady of Light in Loon, San Nicolas Church in Dimiao, Santa Cruz Parish Church in Maribojoc.
Cebu’s treasures were also not spared since a number of churches, including the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, were damaged. The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, and Saint Catherine’s Church in Carcar were also destroyed, according to the Heritage Conservation Society.
Msgr. Marnel Mejia, Cebu Social Communications director, said that the belfry of the Basilica Minore collapsed while the Saint Catherine church suffered structural damage.
The Saint William de Aquitane Parish church and convent was also damaged.
The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral has been closed to the public until further notice, Mejia said.
“The assistant parish priest called and said the sacristy was severely damaged while its belfry may soon collapse,” he added.
Running priest Robert Reyes called on the public to pray and help the people affected by the earthquake.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said that some major bridges in Bohol also collapsed.
DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson said some roads and bridges will have to be closed.
“We have identified six bridges in Bohol [that are]closed due to damages. Also, segments of Bohol Circumferential road [were]damaged due to liquefaction,” he said.
The damaged bridges include the Abatan Bridge, Bunkokan Bridge, San Agustin Bridge, Salog Bridge and Loay Bridge.
Singson said that the impact of the earthquake may still increase, as the assessment team has just started inspecting infrastructure and aftershocks are still expected.
He added that authorities are struggling to reach damaged areas, with power lines and signal still down.
Bohol and Cebu suffered the most damage because they were closest to the epicenter of the earthquake.
In Cebu, roads and huge structures were also damaged, including one of the major hospitals.
With report from PNA