Paete church soaked by Christmas typhoon; parish seeks help | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022


Ursula,” the Christmas typhoon that left a swath of destruction in the Visayas and southern Luzon, also affected the church of Paete in Laguna, soaking it with two inches of rainwater.

Heavy rains flooded the interior of Santiago Apostol church, an 18th-century Franciscan edifice noted for the aesthetic carvings on its facade and the 19th-century large panel paintings hanging on the nave’s interior walls.

It was marked by the now National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) in 1939.

It also has a National Historical Landmark distinction from the same agency.

John Joven Cajipe, local historian and parish pastoral council president, said problems on the roof, downspout, drainage canal and the raised flooring of the nearby convent (now a school) caused the flooding.

“The parish would like to have the church restored, but it cannot move on its own since we know that the NHCP should be consulted first,” he said.

A unilateral move by the parish would possibly result in other problems since there are no local experts who know how to repair the old structure, he added.

Cajipe said the church urgently needs repairs especially of its roof, ceiling, electrical and the old panel paintings.

“San Cristobal” by Jose Dans —EDGAR ALLAN M. SEMBRANO

He said that last June, a heavy downpour had also affected the church.

Luckily, the old panel paintings by Jose Dans (“San Cristobal” and “Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory”) and an unknown artist’s depiction of San Miguel were spared from damage. But Dans’ works in particular need urgent intervention works for their decrepit state.

Cajipe said the parish would again seek the help of the NHCP in the conservation works needed on the entire structure and the important panel paintings inside.

He said the first and only time the church was “restored” by the NHCP was when the town celebrated its 400th anniversary in 1981.

He said the conservation of the church is very important since “this church is not only a treasure of Paete but of the whole country as well.”

NHCP chair Rene Escalante said it would be best if the parish priest would deal with him directly regarding any restoration projects since he “needs to clarify a lot of things with them” before talks on possible restoration proceed.

He said the conservation works for the deteriorated San Cristobal painting remain unresolved since the former parish priest “was not cooperative” during talks of its restoration in 2014.

Parishioners cleaning the
church after Typhoon “Ursula”

As a result, he said, the NHCP then could not ask for funding for restoration.

The former parish priest was Fr. Noel Canopio while the current one is Fr. Rex de los Reyes.

Cajipe said Father De los Reyes knew of what happened before so “he is now careful and his advice is to 100 percent entrust the church restoration (including convent and paintings) to the NHCP.”

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