Heritage, cultural sites suffer quake damage

The Bantay Belltower in Vigan, built in 1591, sustained damage in the earthquake.

THE Unesco World Heritage site in Vigan, along with  other heritage structures in Ilocos Sur and Abra bore the brunt of damage after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake was recorded on Wednesday morning, with epicenter pinpointed in Abra.

Early reports from the Department of Tourism (DOT) indicated that the  Vigan Cathedral’s upper façade was damaged, while at the bell and some bricks fell at the Bantay Bell Tower. The cathedral was completed in 1800, and being located in Vigan, is also a Unesco World Heritage Site.

A former ancestral home, the Syquia Mansion Museum in Vigan also suffered a collapsed wall and windows in one side, while bricks fell off several ancestral homes in the Vigan Heritage Village, part of the Unesco World Heritage Site.

The St. John The Baptist Church in San Juan, Ilocos Sur, recorded damage to its façade and ceiling. Multiple ground faulting became visible in the Santa Ana Beach Area in Ilocos Sur, a favorite tourist spot.

As of press time, there was no word if the DOT would be assisting in the reconstruction of heritage structures affected by the earthquake.

After a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in October 2013 and Supertyphoon Yolanda in November 2013 damaged some 25 heritage churches and other cultural properties in Bohol, Cebu, and Eastern Samar, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) received a P650-million subsidy from the Department of Budget and Management for fiscal year 2014, to “handle  heritage reconstruction and restoration program” in partnership with the National Museum (NM), National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

Tieza is the infrastructure arm of the DOT, which under Republic Act 9593 (Tourism Act of 2009), is mandated to “protect all declared heritage sites in coordination with concerned agencies to develop, manage, and supervise tourism infrastructure projects.”

In Abra, the epicenter of the earthquake, damaged tourism sites included the Santa Catalina de Alejandria Parish Church, a 19th century baroque church  in Tayum and declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2001; and  the  San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine in Bangued, which was completed in the 1920s.

Two Tieza properties—the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel in Ifugao and Mt. Data Hotel—also suffered heavy damage.

Two hotels in Baguio City— the Lafayette Luxury Suites Hotel and Crown Legacy—reported minor cracks in their buildings.

Image credits: Dreamstime


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