128-year-old church in Mati diocese declared national historical site
A 128-year-old church in Caraga town in Davao Oriental has been declared a national historical site, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said Monday.
The CBCP said the San Salvador del Mundo Church gained the distinction from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines on its parochial feast day last July 16.
The CBCP said the church exudes a "solemn atmosphere, strengthened even with age and undying religiosity of all Caragenos."
Its stunning features include two centuries-old giant seashells that serve as holy water font for churchgoers.
There is also the baptismal font, which was used during the Spanish era and is now kept at the Holy Door of San Salvador del Mundo Parish.
According to NHCP Executive Director Ludovico Badoy, the church is not only significant for the province of Davao Oriental but for the whole country, as San Salvador del Mundo is where Christianity began in the eastern part of the Philippines.
“We recognize the joint efforts of the church and the local government unit of Caraga for the declaration, and this is a long dream for them,” Badoy said during the unveiling.
Mati Bishop Patricio Alo blessed the historic marker, expressing gratitude for the unveiling as it symbolizes the faith and journey of the people of Caraga, with the guidance of San Salvador del Mundo, the report said.
The blessing was followed by the turnover of the certificate of transfer, with Badoy reading the content of the certificate.
According to Badoy, NHCP officials visited Caraga to look into the church and interview local residents before submitting their recommendation to the Board. In turn, the board approved the declaration of the old church as a national historic site, as shown by the national historic marker.
“With the marker now with us, we now have the responsibility to take care of the church. It is God’s grace that the church stands still with time, where we hold mass and other sacraments, and where people worship God. We really see remnants of the past with the materials, like the woods and the stones used for the edifice. This is the essence of recognizing the church as a national historic site, standing against time, and preserving the remnants of the past,” San Salvador del Mundo Parish Priest Fr. Uldarico Toruba said.
During the ceremony, representatives for NHCP, Caraga and the Diocese of Mati signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the ownership of the marker and the responsibilities of taking care of a national historic site. Badoy and Architect Wilkie Deelumen signed the agreement for the NHCP, Mayor William Duma-an for Caraga town, and Alo for the Diocese of Mati. Governor Corazon Malanyaon and Rep. Nelson Dayanghirang of the First District stood as witnesses.
“I am blessed and fortunate enough that this thing happened in my incumbency. I am very grateful to the people who made this possible. My humble contribution to the realization of this dream is my legacy for Caraga. May the unveiling of the historic marker sparks the flame of our unity,” said Caraga Mayor William Duma-an.
The CBCP said the next move now is to pursue San Salvador del Mundo Parish as a national landmark.
“But the pursuit needs more justification, more documents. But the church and the local government unit can provide whatever is still missing. We are willing to help,” Badoy said.
Fr. Roland Sayman, who was part of the five-man team organized by the Mati Diocese as National Historical Committee for the San Salvador del Mundo Parish declaration, said vying for the recognition of a national landmark would entail more records to prove and more requirements to comply with.
“We have many records with archeological facts already. This will be our next move, from a national historic site, we will pursue San Salvador del Mundo as a national landmark. We have reasons to ask for this,” he said.
The San Salvador del Mundo Church is the newest among the country's national historical sites, which include Camp Crame in Quezon City, the Schoolhouse of the Women of Malolos, the Gomburza execution site and Jose Rizal's execution site in Rizal Park, the University of Sto. Tomas foundation place and Recoletos Church and Convent in Intramuros, Manila, and the Graciano Lopez Jaena Shrine in Jaro, Iloilo City.
National Historical Landmarks include the San Joaquin Church and Molo Church in Iloilo, the Dauis Church in Bohol, and the Church of Tabaco in Albay. –Carmela G. Lapeña/KG, GMA News