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San Sebastian, the lone steel church in asia, in a state of decomposition – Rep. Chua

Balitaan sa MayniLove
(third from right) Manila third district Congressman Joel Chua in a posterity shot with (from right) MACHRA vice president Andi Garcia, Luis Chavez of Tinapayan, MACHRA president Itchie Cabayan, treasurer Juliet de Loza and board chairman Verlin Ruiz. Behind them are directors (from right) Jerry Tan and Jhun Anzures. Chua guested at the MACHRA’s ‘Balitaan sa MayniLove’ held at the Mehan Garden beside the Manila City Hall.

MANILA third district Congressman Joel Chua expressed alarm that the Minor Basilica of San Sebastian in Quiapo, the only steel building church in the country and in Asia, is now in a state of decomposition and needs to be rescued at the soonest possible time.

Chua bared this at the monthly forum held by the Manila City Hall Reporters’ Association (MACHRA), ‘Balitaan sa MayniLove’ at the Mehan Garden beside the Manila City Hall, where he also stressed the need for the said Church to 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.

Chua also expressed fear that the San Sebastian Church may suffer like the historic Churches in the country that have been destroyed, once an earthquake strikes.

According to Chua, a huge amount is needed to have the said Church restored and not even the national budget can afford it.

It is for this reason, he said, that the UNESCO’s declaration of San Sebastian Church as a world heritage site would be very helpful.

UNESCO, he said, aids in helping 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. It is located at Plaza del Carmen, at the eastern end of Recto Avenue, in Quiapo, Manila.

Itchie G. Cabayan
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