NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) will turn over today, 16 May 2021, the San Pedro Apostol Parish Church and Convent in Loboc to its legal owner, the Diocese of Tagbilaran. The centuries-old structure, including a bell tower located across the street from the church, sustained significant damage during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol in 2013. The church was again struck by natural disaster when the Loboc River overflowed and flooded the town in 2014. The incident, brought about by Typhoon Seniang, was the worst flooding experienced in Loboc in the last 70 years.
Declared a National Cultural Treasure on 31 July 2001, the church was the first cultural property declared by the National Museum in the province of Bohol. Prior to this, it was also declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute (now National Historical Commission of the Philippines) in 1998.
Based on its architecture, the core of the three-story convent is believed to be the church completed in 1670. The current church, built around 1734, and its connecting convent are two of the oldest structures in stone in Bohol.
Restoration of this outstanding built heritage was financed and supervised by the National Museum of the Philippines with additional funds from TIEZA. The restoration process began with the retrieval operations conducted in the aftermath of the quake, and continued with the conservation and accessioning of the church’s movable cultural heritage. This included the church organ that required dismantling by specialists. The NMP also constructed a storage facility to temporarily store the recovered artifacts, most of which have been restored including the church’s side and main retablos and ceiling paintings. Actual restoration started in Dec. 2017 and completed early this year, coinciding with the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines and the National Quincentennial Commemorations, the state-sponsored remembrance of the 500th anniversary of the achievement of humanity in circumnavigating the earth for the first time.
The National Museum of the Philippines is also supervising the ongoing reconstruction of two other heritage churches, which are the Sta. Cruz Parish Church in Maribojoc and the Nuestra Senora de la Luz Parish Church in Loon. Both churches were totally destroyed during the 2013 earthquake. Like the Loboc church, the NMP declared them as National Cultural Treasures.