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Lack of funds hounds future national cultural treasure

October 1, 2012 8:23pm
Even with its imminent declaration as one of the country’s National Cultural Treasures, Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City will still need the help of the private sector in its restoration, repair and maintenance.
 
The National Museum is set to make the public declaration Thursday night after the traditional enthronement ceremonies of the Our Lady of the Rosary La Naval de Manila.   
Sto. Domingo Church, home to the 400-year-old Philippine-made image of Our Lady of the Rosary La Naval de Manila, will be one of the 37 churches recognized for its cultural significance and distinctive architecture.
 
Being a National Cultural Treasure, the highest distinction the government can give on a cultural property, Sto. Domingo Church is entitled to priority government funding for protection, conservation and restoration. It can also get incentives for private support for conservation and restoration through the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ Conservation Incentive Program.
 
However, funds are not always available, said Father Gaspar Sigaya, OP, archivist of the Dominican Province of the Philippines.
 
“Hindi 100 percent na maibibigay ang pondo kapag nagbigay ka ng proposal para sa repair and conservation. Depende kung may enough funds kasi hindi lang naman ang Sto. Domingo ang National Cultural Treasure,” he said.
 
Murals in bad shape

Among the parts of the church that need restoration are the eight murals by National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco depicting the life of St. Dominic de Guzman. Sigaya said the murals are now in bad shape.
 
“Urgent na maayos iyon dahil hindi pa 'yun naayos mula nung magawa,” he told GMA News Online in an interview on Monday.
 
The Dominican fathers are also asking for “generous” donations for the repair of the church’s stained glass windows designed by Galo Ocampo depicting the 15 Mysteries.
 
Sigaya said the repair for the stained glass windows alone will not be lower than P5 million. “Ongoing ang rehabilitation pag may natatanggap na donation,” he said.
 
He said they may ask NCCA to help them finance the effort, but financial help depends highly on the availability of fund.
 
Sigaya said the NCCA also sends its own experts to check on the properties that need to be repaired or restored.
 
The church is also housing priceless jewels of the La Naval Virgin donated by affluent devotees. Even National Artist Nick Joaquin donated his medallion to Our Lady of La Naval.

Marker
 
Based on the implementing rules and regulation of Republic Act 10066 or the Heritage Law, an official heritage marker will be placed by the National Museum indicating Sto. Domingo, an immovable cultural property, has been identified as a national cultural treasure. The marker will be unveiled and blessed on December 8.
 
In times of armed conflict, natural disasters and other exceptional events that endanger the cultural heritage of the country, Sto. Domingo Church, together with other World Heritage Sites or National Historical Landmarks, will be given utmost priority protection by the government.
 
The Dominican fathers, who pushed for the declaration of the Sto. Domingo Church as a national cultural treasure last year, were happy with the decision of the National Museum.
 
“We are really very happy that the National Museum has decided to declare Sto. Domingo Church and everything in there as a national cultural treasure,” Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner, Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines. 
 
“Therefore, the treasure is not just a treasure of the Catholic faithful but of the entire nation. It is like a heirloom, it is part of our culture,” he added. — KBK, GMA News



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