Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) formally turned over the newly restored heritage icons in the province of Ilocos Norte.
On Tuesday, NHCP chair Dr. Rene Escalante led the turnover ceremony of the historic Iglesia Parroquial de San Agustín, also known as Paoay Church, to the Diocese of Laoag.
Paoay Church, a component of the collective UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site inscription “Baroque churches of the Philippines”, is one of the most popular and recognizable landmarks in the country that withstand two strongest quakes to hit the Philippines.
The NHCP announced the restoration of the church in 2018, with the first phase of the restoration covering its buttresses, walls, tower, and interior.
The project includes the restoration and stabilization of coral and brick masonry walls, retrofitting of roof system and provision of ceiling, and adapting to the existing truss system.
On the same day, the Commission also turned over the newly restored bell tower of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Bacarra town.
Built in 1593, the bell tower currently sits at a height of approximately 29 meters, not including its cupola (tower dome) which was slowly toppled down by the earthquakes in 1931, 1971, 1981 and 1983.
The 1983 Luzon earthquake caused the dome to fall down, thus, gaining the romanticized title “Dignified Domeless Belltower in Asia.”
The project includes the restoration and stabilization of brick masonry walls, and the provision of a roof deck to mitigate the seepage of water inside the bell tower. This was constructed on top of the existing concrete columns inside that was said to be constructed in the 1980s.
In 2018, a total of P45 million was earmarked for the twin projects. The preservation works began in 2019.