catholic churches crumbled

it’s a miserable time for the people of bohol and cebu.  apart from the shock and terror of tuesday’s 7.2 earthquake, lives have been lost, homes do not feel safe, life is disrupted.  worst of all, even their churches, sacred places of refuge and spiritual renewal, are either in ruins, or damaged and unsafe.  a dark time indeed.

in anc’s beyond politics, geologist dr. carlo arcilla tried to look at the bright side: this was stronger than the 7.0 earthquake that hit haiti in 2010, but the death and destruction numbers are much much much lower, which he partly attributed (if i heard him correctly) to the building code.

yes, let’s count our blessings, it could have been much worse.  like, if oct 15 had been a schoolday, the kids would have been in school; if it had been a sunday, the churches would have been packed.  thank allah for that muslim holy day.

but speaking of the building code, and barraged with tv images of collapsed facades and towers, fallen roofs and walls, of centuries-old churches that were centers of prayer and worship for a predominantly catholic population, i am aghast at how unsafe these structures were pala.  and i am scandalized to find that church authorities have done very little, if anything, to render them safe for the daily and weekly ritual gatherings of the faithful.  too expensive?  too inconvenient?  easier to trust in divine protection?

this gross sin of omission i lay squarely at the door of the catholic church.  read Catholic Church has billions invested in BPI, Philex, San Miguel.  the catholic church, which does not pay taxes, can well afford the expense of retrofitting, conserving, restoring, old churches without the help of government, and without burdening the faithful with impious requests to dig deeper into empty pockets for the salvation of their souls.

this is not just a matter of history or heritage, it’s also a matter of life and death.


Bohol’s old churches: Nat’l treasures in peril Sept 1998
Historic Landmarks Reduced to Rubble by The Philippines Quake
Destruction of heritage churches lamented


  1. individual parishes, technically, must survive financially on their own. the wealthier ones, send aid to poorer ones.

    although if its true that they do have Billions (about 30B, say) in shares, we can think about what should be done with it. fundamentally, why keep your money in stocks?

    first, its important to keep this magnitude in check. the TOTAL BUDGET OF THE philippine govt is 1.2 TRILLION for 2012.

    oo, isang taon lang yan., KADA TAON, 1.2T (and rising!) is spent.

    think of the church’s wealth — which is 2% of the ANNUAL BUDGET of the philippine government.

    thats my first point, 50B is big, but it aint that big.

    second point: you should judge saving patterns based on 1) cash flow coming in and out, and 2) how long you expect to live.

    it depends on your preferences, so lets play this game. lets say you are earning 10,000 per year (small amount) and you have 1 Million (much bigger) in the bank and you will live forever (like the church). Should you spend the 1 Million this year and lose it forever? Should you invest it and consume the interest earnings forever? Your answers depends on your preferences actually, so it would interesting to know what people want to do.

  2. manuel buencamino

    I hope the government does not spend for reconstruction of those churches, not even under the guise of historical or heritage sites preservation. They are gone. Rebuilt churches would be Disney-fied structures. So if tourism is the excuse then the question would be, why would tourists visit replicas of centuries old churches? If at all leave them as ruins for tourists to marvel at the force of nature. Now if you want to get religious about it then God destroyed those churches so let’s not undo God’s will by rebuilding them.

    • mb, you cannot be serious. the country sells (at least in part) its spanish history in its tourism. all countries highlight and preserve these historical landmarks to pursue this objective.

      • manuel buencamino


        They won’t be the same historical landmarks anymore . They will be new buildings pretending to be historical landmarks. Welcome to Hollywood/Disneyworld. What would be more appropriate is a marker with pictures memorializing the destroyed landmark. At least that’s authentic. Why play pretend?

    • from japan:

      its a great read. my favorite: “ Cultural property is a precious common heritage for Japan and for human beings. To transmit these treasures to future generations is the responsibility of those of us who live today. For this purpose, we must start by ensuring the safety of damaged cultural properties and art objects, to prevent robbery, destruction or loss in the debris of damaged structures.”

  3. “What we need in terms of assistance from international friends would be experts in restoring churches…these are heritage sites. We’re looking at making sure were able to restore churches,” Lacierda said.

    “We will appreciate (international aid). We’re not calling for aid. No man is an island. Kagandahan lahat ng bansa, nagtutulungan ang marami. May concern sa bayan kung may maitutulong. We appreciate international assistance although we have enough resources to handle the situation,” he added.

  4. manuel buencamino

    A hastily drafted Pastoral Letter from the CBCP claiming that the Bohol earthquake was a reminder from God that Filipinos were becoming too sinful had to be trashed because God also reduced to rubble centuries-old basilicas and churches. Oh well, like Pope Francis said, “God is not Catholic.”

    • Could be that the earthquakes were a reminder from God that Filipino Catholic priests were becoming too sinful that’s why He destroyed all those Catholic churches. Government officials must think twice on restoring back those churches because by doing so they might incur the ire of God.

      • Batang-genyo-Alah Eh

        Ang sabi ni Ka Eli Soriano ng Dating Daan, karma daw ito sa mga Pinoy Catholics na hindi sumusunod sa Banal na Utos ng Diyos. “Thou shalt Not Worship Graven Images” na marami daw nagdadasal sa mga statuwa at santo humihingi ng favor sa Diyos, as if, walang kapangyarihang dingin ng Ama at kay Hesu Kristo sa kanilang mga panalangin. May “biblical basis” ba ito??