Church officials in Bohol province are faced with a huge problem: Where to get the money to restore or rehabilitate the churches damaged by the earthquake.
Father Milan Ted Torralba, chairman of the Diocese of Tagbilaran’s Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, said that the church would need at least P700 million to restore or repair the churches, many of which are centuries old.
“For each church, the requirement will depend on the degree of damage so it will be around P80 million to P100 million,” Torralba told reporters on Tuesday. In Tagbilaran, 15 to 20 churches were damaged, while seven or nine churches were also destroyed in the diocese of Talibon, also in Bohol.
If church officials will be unable to raise funds, the Tagbilaran diocese may consider retrofitting the churches.
Torralba urged churches to raise funds by opening their own bank accounts to accept donations coming from the people. Churches not only in the province can also make collections during Mass.
”It would take some time. The manpower would come from them (the churches affected) in the same manner that they were first built,” he said.
Notwithstanding the huge amount needed to restore the churches, Torralba said he is still considering reconstructing the “pulverized churches”.
He said the rubble can be used in restoring or reconstructing them, although the authenticity and integrity of these churches will be greatly affected.
”There is a possibility to restore or reconstruct the churches but it will be a lot different from its original form,” he said.
In Bohol, six churches have been declared as national cultural treasures. These are the Immaculate Conception Church in Baclayon, San Pedro Apostol Church in Loboc, Santisima Trinidad Church in Luay, Our Lady of the Assumption church in Dauis, Holy Cross Parish and Saint Vincent Diocesan Shrine both in Maribujoc and the Our Lady of Light in Loon.
Torralba said the diocese is now open to retrofitting the churches to strengthen or buttress these churches.
Meantime, he said churches can continue to address the spiritual needs of their flock by building makeshift churches or chapels.