Business and other sectors rush to save Manila Cathedral


MANILA Cathedral rector Monsignor Nestor Cerbo tours the basilica. Tests have revealed that the 54-year-old foundation is slowly sinking.

The historic Manila Cathedral, located at the heart of Intramuros, is now set to undergo a multimillion retrofitting process to preserve its physical structure and to ensure the safety of those who will use it after its restoration.

According to Henrietta de Villa, who was appointed to the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica Foundation for the renovation and restoration project, the overwhelming support from the faithful is drawing their purpose’s fulfillment nearer and probably earlier than expected.

AMBASSADOR Henrietta T. de Villa, who has assembled the task force that
would restore and repair Manila Cathedral.

“With the support from our donors, we don’t have to worry about chasing funds. Because of that we are able to focus more on planning the actual restoration and repair work of the church in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible,” De Villa said.

Collaborating for the cathedral’s redevelopment are De Villa, a former ambassador to the Holy See and a champion for voter education; Cardinals Gaudencio Rosales and Luis Antonio Tagle; retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban; and Ramon S. Ang, president and chief operating officer of the San Miguel Corporation, who already donated P50 million for the project.

A number of private patrons have also helped in the raising of funds.

Early last year, Manila Cathedral closed to the public after Tagle announced the urgently needed repairs to the church in February 2012.

Sinking church

ENGINEERS have placed scanning markers on each arch and pillar to create an accurate three-dimensional image of the cathedral.

Preparations needed almost a year to come up with a detailed survey of the structure—which was facilitated by the Angel Lazaro and Associates, an engineering and architectural consultancy firm—and a concrete plan to remedy the problems in the 54-year-old edifice.

Findings show that the cathedral is slowly sinking due to soil liquefaction. This strains the building foundation and the main arches that carry the weight of the ceiling and roof, which are not far from collapsing should a strong natural calamity strike Manila. The cracks on the ceilings and walls, which can be seen from below, are indicators of the waning stability of the structure. Msgr. Nestor C. Cerbo, cathedral rector, pointed to this as the reason why the cathedral had to close its doors.

“In the event of an earthquake, the danger to the public is very real,” said Cerbo. “The soil under which the cathedral rests cannot bear the weight of the entire structure. This is the reason why we had to cancel all those weddings that had been booked for months.”

Also, groundwater has started seeping onto the cathedral flooring. In fact, during the rainy season, the seepage covers the entire floor area of the cathedral crypt, and rises a few millimeters more. This has heavily stained and darkened the terrazzo.

To salvage the important building, engineers resorted to high-definition 3D laser scanning. This technology has created accurately a three-dimensional image of the cathedral, which will be used to plan its renovation and restoration.

SAN MIGUEL Properties, Inc. vice president and general manager Karlo P. Estavillo and San Miguel Corporation president Ramon S. Ang hand over the P50-million donation for the restoration of Manila Cathedral to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and Tita de Villa.

Historic, cultural

Complementing the Hispanic aura of the famous Walled City, the cathedral has become a popular tourist site both for its religious significance and historical value, with many ambulant vendors deriving their livelihood from churchgoers and visitors.

It saw two popes—Paul VI and John Paul II—celebrating Mass at its altar, and was a witness to the lying in state of Presidents Carlos P. Garcia and Corazon Aquino.

Designed in neo-Romanesque style by University of Santo Tomas alumnus and architecture professor Fernando Ocampo, the Manila Cathedral features marbled floors, mosaic arcaded colonnades, and stained glass windows. It also has masonry walls of granite and stone framings and foundations.

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • kismaytami

    Iwas-iwas muna sa mga produkto ng San Miguel, diyan babawi si Ang.

    • andresa igbac

       so you don’t like that he donated for a church? did you donate?

      • kismaytami

        Bakit ko naman magugustuhan kung sa mga consumer din ang bawi ng donasyon?

  • blainz

    The Church has more than sufficient shareholdings in blue chip companies to fund the repairs without appealing for donations.

    Perhaps Carlos Celdran would like to make his own personal contribution: a life-sized statue of himself in Rizal garb holding a DAMASO sign at the entrance. That would boost local tourism!

    • johnlagrimas

      …better ask celdran to put his statue in front of your house.

      • blainz

        Sorry, I don’t live in Manila Cathedral. Neither do I house Damasos.

    • andresa igbac

       eh di wagka magdonate

  • Ken Cortez

    Eh san napupunta ung donasyon sa kanila kung pampagawa eh ini hihingi pa.hayssssssssssssss

    • johnlagrimas

      …pag di ka man lang nagbibigay, ‘wag kang maraming satsat!

  • andresa igbac

    yong mga bitter, pati yong ganitong news, di talaga palalampasin, para mapansin sila. wawa naman.

  • playamoth

    Site is cursed.  How many Cathedrals have been built and destroyed or damaged?  Liquefaction is already happening even without an earthquake.  It needs to relocate or some serious engineering to stabilize the foundation.

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