The 6.1-magnitude earthquake which struck Central Luzon on April 22 brought back memories of the 2013 Bohol earthquake, particularly in the worst hit town of Porac, Pampanga.
Three heritage structures were affected in Porac—the Santa Catalina de Alejandria Church, Hacienda Dolores Chapel, and San Vicente Ferrer Chapel in Barangay Pio.
The town’s main church, built most likely in 1867, bore the brunt of the tremor as its belfry collapsed. Meanwhile, large cracks dented the facade.
Conservation experts pointed to the belfry’s topmost level and its cupola, which were all later additions, as the most possible reasons for the collapse, since cement is heavier than stone—particularly the Porac stone used in the construction of the church.
Unfortunately, only the facade, belfry, and perhaps portions at the back of the church remain of the original 19th-century structure, since the church suffered heavy damage during World War II.
Aside from the church, the chapels of Hacienda Dolores and Pio were also damaged.
These community chapels were built in 1838 and 1861, respectively.
The Dolores chapel sustained damages at its side entrances with visible cracks on the side walls and facade.
Meanwhile the columns of the chapel in Pio collapsed. Its facade, noted for its circular shape, also incurred cracks.
Elsewhere in Pampanga, the topmost portion of the church of Lubao was likewise damaged.
Dislodged stones and cracks were seen on the walls of the churches of Betis, Minalin, San Luis, Bacolor and San Fernando.
Cracks were likewise seen on the belfry of Santa Rita church.
Meanwhile, the Pisamban Maragul or the church of Angeles sustained cracks on its wall.
Right after the quake, as a safety precaution, the Archdiocese of San Fernando implemented a lockdown. It later announced the indefinite closure of the churches of Porac, Minalin and Angeles.
Assessing damage to the churches is the Archdiocesan Committee on Church Heritage, with the help of structural engineers, national cultural agencies, and Escuela Taller, said a source.
Meanwhile, the parish and parishioners of the Porac Church held a religious procession a day after the deadly earthquake.
The carroza of St. Catherine of Alexandria was allowed to enter the compound where the collapsed Chozun Supermarket is located, and prayers were said, led by its parish priest Fr. Roland Moraleja. —CONTRIBUTED