Experts: Too costly to restore churches
MANILA, Philippines - Spanish cultural preservation experts said Monday it is more expensive to restore centuries-old churches damaged by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol and Cebu last week than to build new ones.
“It is very difficult to preserve severely damaged churches. It is also cheaper to reconstruct (than to conserve the prior structures),” Juan Antonio Herraez, head of the Preventive Preservation Section of the Research and Training Division of the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Spain, told The STAR.
A number of churches destroyed by the quake in Bohol and Cebu were national cultural treasures.
Herraez said preventive conservation of national heritage like old churches is important to protect them from possible damage during natural disasters.
He said there should be an identification of valuable materials inside the structures as well as safe place where these can be transferred during a disaster.
Herraez said experts must also ensure the integrity of the old structures during earthquakes and other natural hazards.
“Experts must use the best materials to support the old structures so these can withstand strong earthquakes,” he said.
The embassy of Spain in Manila is hosting a five-day seminar workshop on preventive conservation and architecture in museums exposed to tropical and subtropical climates at the San Agustin Museum in Intramuros, Manila.
Victor Cageao, head of the division for Infrastructures of the Subdirectorate General of State Museums in Spain, said there are various factors that must be considered in preserving artifacts, including humidity, and temperature.
The Spanish embassy had earlier said it was exploring ways to help rehabilitate churches damaged or destroyed by the quake.
A task force led by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts submitted to President Aquino yesterday its preliminary report on damaged churches.
The report contained recommendations and costs of rehabilitation of the centuries-old structures, an official the National Museum, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
“The rehabilitation/restoration of all damaged churches may last up to three years,” the source said.
Six of the damaged churches in Bohol considered as national cultural treasures are in Loboc, Baclayon, Loon, Dauis, Maribojoc and Dimiao.
The National Museum was set to declare two churches – Loay and Cortes – as national cultural treasures before the earthquake.
Also damaged were Spanish-era watchtowers in Punta Cruz, Panglao, and Balihan that had been declared national cultural treasures.