The San Guillermo De Aquitania Church in Dalaguete town in southern Cebu has been named National Cultural Treasure (NCT).
The church received the marker for its entire complex from the National Museum (NMP) of the Philippines in a formal ceremony on the eve of the town’s fiesta on February 9, 2024.
The NCT is the highest recognition the state bestows upon exceptional built heritage.
The National Heritage Act defines an NCT as “a unique cultural property found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic, and/or scientific value, which is highly significant and important to the country and nation, and officially declared as such by pertinent cultural agency.”
Being named NCT means that the state can intervene and provide assistance if the structure is damaged or threatened by disaster or calamity, NMP said.
Because the structure is protected by the state, it also means that it cannot be demolished or changed, and its authenticity must be retained.
“Per RA 10066, when armed conflicts, natural disasters and other exceptional events endanger the cultural heritage of the country, all national cultural treasures or national historical landmarks, sites or monuments shall be given priority protection by the government,” says NMP Cebu head Audrey Dawn Tomada.
The church was constructed in 1802 and was completed in 1825.
NMP Cebu said the church “is built of coral stones, has a three-level facade with religious embellished carvings and architectural features, a three-bodied belltower, and a convent (1832) made of cut coral stones and Philippine hardwood with inner tabique pampango walls.”
“Inside the church are the ornate main and side retablos in Rococo style, and the remarkable ceiling paintings by notable Cebuano artist Canuto Avila and his sons in 1935. The church complex also boasts of a mortuary chapel and remnants of the octagonal baluarte,” NMP Cebu added.
The San Guillermo De Aquitania Church in Dalaguete is the fourth structure in Cebu to be declared an NCT. The others are the churches in the towns of Boljoon and Oslob, in Carcar City, and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in Cebu City.
Meanwhile, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral has been named Important Cultural Property (ICP).
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma who celebrated the Mass in Dalaguete during the ceremony said gratitude and appreciation should go both to those who built the church and those who preserved it through the years.
Earlier, the church also received a National Historical Landmark declaration from the National Historical Institute.