Quantcast

With Due Respect

Manila Cathedral: sad news, good news

By

The sad news, reminiscent of Black Friday’s woes, is that the Manila Cathedral has been closed due to newly discovered structural deficiencies. But the good news on this happy Easter Sunday is that during a recent private dinner with Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle, former Ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta T. de Villa and me, San Miguel Corp. president Ramon S. Ang graciously agreed to contribute P50 million to lead in saving this veritable center of Catholic worship.

About the closure. A month ago, Archbishop Tagle directed the closure of the cathedral upon the recommendation of the Manila Cathedral-Basilica Foundation (MCBF). The shutdown saddened the Mass-goers and devotees, especially the 200 couples who were scheduled to be married in the historic church this year.

However, the frequent earthquakes in the Philippines and in our region gave the humble shepherd very little choice. He thought it prudent to close it rather than risk the well-being, health and even the lives of the faithful who attend daily Masses, weddings, baptisms and other services.

Perhaps, what will be most especially missed are the cathedral’s annual pipe organ concerts celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception every December. Although not as famous as the “Bamboo Organ” of Las Piñas, the cathedral’s giant pipe organ was described by George Miller in his 1912 book, “Interesting Manila,” as the most modern in the Philippines. It has been improved several times since then, the latest in 2006.

Archbishop Tagle’s predecessor, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, already suspected the deterioration of the structure. Last year, he asked the MCBF to bring down the huge bells in the cathedral’s tower belfry. With the assistance of the New Golden City Builders and Development Corp. and architect William Coscolluela, the seven big bells on the tower, weighing 17 tons, were taken down and installed in a new garden on the north side of the cathedral.

In their lieu, computerized, top-of-the-line carillon bells made in Holland and donated by Alberto and Sylvia Lina were installed in the belfry tower by the foundation. According to the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, church bells and carillons speak the word of God because when they ring, the people come to the churches to pray and commune with the Lord.

But even these much lighter carillon bells have to be brought down in the meantime. A report of the structural engineering team commissioned by the MCBF showed that the church structure might not be able to withstand a major earthquake.

Headed by Dr. Angel Lazaro III, the team tested the slabs, beams, columns, walls, footings, piles, trusses, domes, parapets, cables and other church structures. After conducting extensive tests, including several 30-meter bore holes, the team determined that soil liquefaction could occur in an earthquake and endanger the church.

About the cathedral. More than mortar and brick, the Manila Cathedral is a symbol of our faith and a monument of our religious heritage. It is the bulwark of Filipino Catholicism and an enduring witness to the strength and depth of our people’s fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Indeed, from its original construction in 1581, the Manila Cathedral has become not just a church in the capital city but also the temple of faith of the entire country. However, while our faith has grown and strengthened throughout the whole archipelago, the cathedral has fallen to many disasters and natural calamities, like typhoons, earthquakes and fire, not to mention World War II, which practically ravaged it to the ground.

The present structure, with neo-Romanesque Byzantine architecture, was designed by architect Fernando Ocampo and reconstructed after World War II by Archbishop Rufino J. Santos, who became the first Filipino cardinal. The reconstructed cathedral was consecrated on Dec. 7, 1958, under the patronage of our Mother Mary, the Immaculate Conception.

In recognition of the Manila Cathedral’s centricity in the Christian life of our people, Pope John Paul II elevated it into a basilica 30 years ago. Hence, it is now referred to as the “Manila Cathedral-Basilica.”

About the foundation. Today, more than 50 years after its reconstruction, the Manila Cathedral truly needs major renovation, structural strengthening and rehabilitation. To undertake this rebuilding, the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica Foundation was organized.

The archbishop of Manila is the ex-oficio chair of its board of trustees. Ambassador de Villa is its vice chair; yours truly, president, Inquirer chair Marixi R. Prieto, vice president; Monsignor Nestor C. Cerbo, treasurer and executive director; lawyer Alex Erlito S. Fider, corporate secretary; and Bishop Bernardino C. Cortez, Fr. Domingo G. Asuncion, Fr. Rufino Sescon Jr., Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, Danilo L. Dolor, Cecile J. Oppen and Leticia C. Syquia, board members.

When the cathedral was closed a month ago, neither Archbishop Tagle nor the foundation had the funds to undertake immediately its rehabilitation. But with the heads-up generosity of SMC president Ang, we are now confident that the church can be reopened a year from now.

And beyond that, we know in faith that more of our countrymen would come forward with contributions, big and small, not only to reconstruct the cathedral but also to beautify it consistent with its role and character as the center of worship in the only Catholic country in Asia.

* * *

Comments to chiefjusticepanganiban@hotmail.com


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=26335

Tags: Artemio Panganiban , Catholic Church , Manila Cathedral , opinion , Religion , With Due Respect



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • 4 Etihad passengers not yet located
  • DAR to complete installation of Luisita land reform beneficiaries in May
  • Ex-COA chief and co-accused in Arroyo plunder case nabbed
  • Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  • The ‘link diagram’ that killed ex-Bataan police officer
  • Sports

  • NLEX holds off Jumbo Plastic for a playoff berth
  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Lifestyle

  • Summer Mayhem: The ultimate beach experience
  • A haven for steak lovers
  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Tiff with HK over Luneta hostage fiasco finally over
  • DOLE sees more Filipinos hired by South Koreans
  • Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Marketplace