The historic church of the town of Loboc in the central Philippine province of Bohol reopened on Sunday, May 16, seven years after it was destroyed in the 2013 earthquake.
“Thank you for your tireless dedication to pursue the commitment to restore and bring back the magnificence and beauty of God’s holy temple,” said Bishop Alberto Uy of Tagbilaran.
In his message during the turnover ceremony on Sunday, the prelate described the church in Loboc as “a living testament of faith and resilience of the Boholano people.”
“May we continue to walk together in our journey of faith, may we never forget the past, be ever mindful of the present, and continue rising every time we fall as we face the future with hope,” said the prelate.
The church in Loboc is one of 25 centuries-old churches in the province of Bohol that were destroyed by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the island on Oct. 15, 2013.
The centuries-old church, including its bell tower, sustained significant damage during the earthquake and its condition worsened when, a year later, Loboc River overflowed and flooded the town.
The National Museum of the Philippines, which supervised the restoration of the church, turned over the structure to the Diocese of Tagbilaran, which has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the town.
The restoration process, which started in December 2017, began with the retrieval of items buried in the rubble. Many of the materials that were retrieved and documented after the earthquake were either reused or restored.
“Now, we can marvel at this heritage asset once more and continue our efforts in preserving our faith and heritage for generations to come,” said Bishop Uy during the dedication rite.
The church and its connecting convent, which was built in 1734, is one of the oldest structures in Bohol.
In 1998, the National Historical Institute, now called the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, declared the Loboc church a national historical landmark.
In 2001, it was declared a national cultural treasure and was the first cultural property of the National Museum of the Philippines in Bohol.