Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Ruined churches, a "concerned" government, and a majority who cares less (and then concerned after the deluge)

Ruined churches, 
a "concerned" government, 
and a majority who cares less (and then concerned after the deluge)

Well, since last time this writer had wrote about old houses left dilapidated and gone demolished at Arlegui and at Quiapo, this time about the state of the old churches at Cebu and Bohol being ravaged by the earthquake.

At first, it is indeed lamenting that all after the 7.5 magnitude earthquake lies the destruction of most villages especially at the mountainous areas around Cebu and Bohol; many lives were killed, and millions, if not billions of pesos may ought to spent in efforts concerning relief, and afterwards rehabilitation and reconstruction of their communities and of course, lives.

That somehow includes the churches that have been designated as “national cultural treasures”, “national historic landmarks”, or “heritage sites”.

According to the Business Mirror, it had said that in Bohol alone, seven “heritage” churches have been estimated to need around Php700 million for reconstruction costs, with Fr. Ted Torralba of the Dioscese of Tagbilaran stated about Php100 million for each destroyed church to be rehabilitated. With the possibility of exploring the possibility of tapping private-sector funds.

The government had also expressed concern about it, stating that Malacanang had assured that the government would fund the reconstruction of the heritage churches; that also somehow contrary to the earlier statement that "the government could not fund the reconstruction of the heritage churches due to the “separation of Church and State.”"

Yes, the government tries to practise its so-called "laicism" with the earlier statement, yet at the same time, had to abide by its law concerning heritage sites, that includes centuries-old churches be be entitled to…"priority government funding for protection, conservation and restoration…." Enabling the Constitution's provision stating that "All the country’s artistic and historic wealth constitutes the cultural treasure of the nation and shall be under the protection of the State which may regulate its disposition."

However, as the government tends to think twice about giving some funds using the said provision, San Miguel Corporation's Ramon S. Ang is willing to help with the reconstruction of these centuries-old churches the way it had earlier donated P50 million for the renovation and retrofitting of the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, that had been closed last 2012.

“These churches are part of our heritage and carry significant historical value. We are open to do our part in supporting any efforts to rehabilitate these sites,” according to SMC's Ang.

But, as the national government and private institutions had expressed concern over these centuries-old churches and at the same time time, seeing local government units expressed desparacy over funds for the relief of its inhabitants, it seems that it should be the Catholic church who should shoulder, both in having relief efforts and in rehabilitating age-old structures since they are using it for generations as a place of worship other than being an institution known for not paying taxes, having its tithes becoming Peter's pences for the holy see.

And with the government expressing concern and perhaps willing to provide a share of its own funds for those heritage sites, had made this writer thinking critically knowing that most, if not all of the taxpayer's money allocated for the restoration of the ruined properties may end up at pockets of politicians, given the rotten culture of corruption; and if happens, would resort to the use of substandard materials the way what was done in roads, bridges, infrastructure politicians used to brag much during election time.

Or let's say, since the church is a body of people, and less of a structure, then why not the entire Christian community has to support the way Muslims had supported their Mujahidin? Remember the Crusades using the defense of the church against Islamic aggression? The Inquisition against heretics? This writer may ought to say that a church who cares for its laity, being its living stones, is itself "militant" trying to endure the deluge of times.
Furthermore, if the government has to shoulder the expenses, knowing that they used the provisions stated, on what pretext it would be: as a church, or as a tourist magnet? In Turkey for example, Hagia Sophia had became a museum of Turkish identity that somehow made both the Turkish state and some private interests willing to provide funds in rehabilitating it; but the Blue mosque and other Ottoman-era mosques that continued using as places of worship were under the control of the ministry of religious affairs, also a government agency in "executing the works concerning the beliefs, worship, and ethics of Islam, enlighten the public about their religion, and administer the sacred worshipping places;"  Religion in turkey is somehow tolerated, but seriously adheres to its laicism, in a way Ataturk did in abolishing the veil, the admission of women in government service, wearing western clothes, and using Turkish instead of Arab in calling for Adhan. Give and take so to speak.
thus, if that's the case then in a supposed secular state like the Philippines,  then rehabilitating churches using government fund should made in exchange of having a Church not intervening in secular affairs; that religion should been in a private matter, that the churchpeople should execute beliefs firmly such as supporting in efforts in relief operations with its tithes.

Well, with these catastrophes affecting heritage sites, perhaps one should think again about revisiting their long lost culture, knowing that most had come too late in seeing its value despite seeing the structure, taking pictures along with their "precious, vain-filled faces" and be posted on every social media sites all for the sake of impression.

And worse, demolishing it, or exaggerating it for the sake of so-called "beauty", is tantamount to cultural suicide. The church built centuries ago by the Spaniards, and "renovated" during the Marcos regime at Ilocos was one example; knowing that it had radically changed the feature using the wedding of Irene Marcos to Greggy Araneta as its reason for "rehabilitating".
Sadly, that church, hastingly "renovated" for the purpose, end destroyed by an earthquake too; it was rebuilt, but having less grandeur than what it was.

Speaking of those who are featuring their "precious, vain-filled faces" much than the buildings, then the photographs made by certain people like Paulo Bustamante, or Stephen John Pamoranda had showed better concern than those peeps if that's the case knowing that these heritage structures, whether it be a house, an establishment, or the stereotypical church and city walls like in Intramuros had purpose and value other than as a mere tourist magnet.

So is this writer in expressing concern about post-war structures, especially those of factories that contributed to the development of their respective communities, and remarkable sites made by prominent architects yet demolished for the sake of building much nonsense structures trying to "emulate" what was been stood, yet in fact not.

And by the way, are the people really concerned about the buildings on that time? Or just care less for it was a matter of the National Center for Culture and the Arts, the Church and the concerned Bourgeoisie? Perhaps they would scream if a mall, instead of a church or a heritage site been destroyed.

For that is their "heritage site", a monument, a temple of Consumerism.