CONGRESSMAN Joel Chua, Manila’s Representative for the city’s third district that includes Quiapo, said that the formal declaration of Quiapo Church as a national shrine confirms the preeminent stature of the Minor Basilica among the focal points of the Catholic devotion to the Black Nazarene, as he expressed hope that another high-profile Church in Quiapo may also soon achieve its rightful recognition and be saved from decomposition.
“Yes, as we see every time during the Traslacion of the Jesus Nazareno, this fervent devotion is intensely physically demonstrative, rooted in prayer, by people, though flawed, strive to live Christian lives the best they can, given the realities of daily life,” he said.
Chua added: “My own prayer and hope is that the intensity manifested every Traslacion is manifested in equally fervent action in the family, community, and nation as frequently as humanly possible by the same striving devotees.
Meanwhile, Chua expressed hope that the Minor Basilica of San Sebastian in Quiapo, the only steel building church in the country and in Asia, will also be finally recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a heritage site in order to have it fully restored.
“Kinakalawang na ang mga bakal at ang dami na ding bukbok sa loob. ‘Yung altar umaatras na,” said Chua, who said that the San Sebastian Basilica is an important part of Quiapo, specially for true-blue residents who were born and raised there and who hold special occasions in the said Church like weddings and baptism, among others.
The Congressman said he fears that if an earthquake strikes, the San Sebastian Church located at Plaza del Carmen at the eastern end of Recto Avenue in Quiapo, Manila, may suffer the same fate of other historic Churches in the country that ended up being destroyed.
Chua sighed that aa huge amount is needed to have the San Sebastian Church restored and not even the national budget can afford it, which is why a UNESCO declaration of San Sebastian Church as a world heritage site is very important.
According to him, UNESCO helps World Heritage sites sustain their outstanding universal value as a unique landmark with great historical, physical and cultural significance.
A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the UNESCO which also designates them as such for having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance. The sites are judged to contain “cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
Built in 1891, San Sebastian Church is noted for its architecture and is an example of the Gothic Revival architecture in the Philippines.
Being the only steel building church in the Philippines, it was designated as a National Historical Landmark in 1973 and as a National Cultural Treasure in 2011.