Press Release
August 13, 2011


Baler's Historical Committee is calling on the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the National Museum to put a stop to the desecration of the 400-year-old Church of Baler in Aurora.

Built in 1611, the Church of Baler was the site of the Siege of Baler, the last bastion of the Spanish empire.

The church is recognized as a National Historical Landmark and listed in the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP).

The renovation started about a month ago under the direction of the parish priest Fr. Nilvon C. Villanueva and quickly progressed to startling changes in the interior of the church, rousing the public outcry.

Historian and Committee chairperson Ilovita Mesina, in a letter to the NHCP, inquired if the "renovation" being undertaken is with the approval of the NHCP.

Mesina requested the NHCP to issue a stop order immediately to prevent irreparable damage to an important historical and religious monument.

She stressed that the modification of the Church of Baler is clear violation of the National Cultural Heritage Law.

The Church of Baler was reconstructed under the auspices of Mrs. Aurora Aragon Quezon, wife of Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon. Recognizing its cultural and historical significance even then, she had the church restored in 1939 to its original anay finish over the stone-and-coral structure. The interior of the church has also remained largely preserved.

Now this anay finish is being stripped and replaced with bright paints and varnishes, with the entire altar area being redecorated with garishly gilded ornaments and fixtures.

"As a native of Baler, I consider this church an invaluable part of our town's heritage and history--as well as our country's. The government must lead in preserving and protecting it vigilantly from defilement because the Church of Baler is a genuine national cultural treasure," said Mesina.

"The Church of Baler gives us something of the past to look upon and learn from. And keeping it faithful to its original appearance allows the young generation to fully appreciate and absorb the richness of its history.We cannot allow this cultural treasure to be remade and its historical import stripped," she said.

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