Restoring damaged churches will take years

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The restoration of quake-damaged churches may take five to eight years, according to Father Milan Ted Torralba, chairman of Tagbilaran’s Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church.

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Torralba said that restoration work has yet to start because aftershocks continue to shake Bohol province. He said Church officials also have to raise funds.

He explained that preparations for the restoration or rehabilitation of these churches, some of them centuries old, will be completed in two to three months. “We are still doing the recovery, retrieval, documentation and salvation operations.”

The priest added that the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and some church officials will be meeting on Saturday to discuss the restoration plans “because almost all heritages churches were affected by the tremor.”

He disclosed that despite plans of restoring churches to their original structures, some changes may have to be considered. Makeshift chapels such as tents and nipa huts are built while reconstruction plans are still being processed.

Torralba said they would need P80 million to P100 million to restore each church.

“By the time that they [tourists]are in Bohol, by word of mouth and through the social media we will be able to earn even a little amount,” Torralba said. “People will just come and will give whatever amount they have.”

The priest earlier urged church officials to open their own bank accounts so that donations will be sent directly to them.

Meanwhile, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma emphasized that helping the earthquake victims is their top priority.

Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso, who was at the relief operations on Thursday, said that they have plans of building a housing community for the victims. He likewise encouraged the faithful to donate tents, food, and other materials.

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