UPDATE: Kapatiran ng Mahal na Poong Sta. Krus – Bauan, Batangas shared a proposed plan for the facade, approved by Parish officials and in consultation with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
The Immaculate Conception Parish in Bauan, Batangas has since its founding in 1596 endured many disasters—natural and, well, human-caused (in 1660, for example, its Augustinian chapter had to be annexed to Taal because it had an insufficient number of devotees)—prompting numerous relocations.
Over four centuries later, the neo-classical church is having an unprecedented identity crisis. Gone is its facade that had continually evolved with the times, with its crown molding that framed its three windows. In its place is now what seems to be a flattened version of its exterior, cold with faux exposed brick details, arresting in its smoothness. If it’s any consolation, the belfry built in 1772 remains almost the same.
Its devotees don’t seem to mind. In a Facebook post, the Kapatiran ng Mahal na Poong Sta. Krus – Bauan, Batangas said the renovation is almost finished, just in time for the celebration of the quincentennial anniversary of Christianity in the country and the 425th founding anniversary of its parish. In the same post, they juxtaposed the new structure alongside the many phases of the church from 1901 to the present.
Heritage fans don’t share the same ease, though. Heritage news source El Reportero remarked that “the early 20th-century appearance of the church, particularly the facade is far from today’s which is a product of recent renovation works.” The publication also added that the stark change was despite the church having a cast-iron plaque historical marker issued by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) in 1939.
Bauan Church is also listed under the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP), a repository of all information pertaining to cultural properties in the Philippines deemed significant to our cultural heritage. It was established through Article V Section 4 of the National Heritage Act of 2009 Republic Act 10066.
Under RA 10066, the government and pertinent cultural and historical agencies are supposed to “conserve, develop, promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources, as well as artistic creations.”
In the registry, it reads that “at present, there were ongoing renovations due to the damage caused by an earthquake last April 2017.” But in the 2018 photo posted by the Kapatiran ng Mahal na Poong Sta. Krus, the facade did not appear to have been damaged by the earthquake.
NHCP has yet to comment on the issue.
A parish goer commented on El Reportero’s post clarifying that the renovation is not yet done and that there are more details to be added to the facade. This is based on a statement by the parish priest, who, on a Sunday mass livestreamed on the Immaculate Conception Bauan – Archdiocese of Lipa’s Facebook page yesterday Mar. 13, said “Patuloy po ang pagpapagawa ng ating simbahang pangparokya buhat pa po noong 2017 hanggang ngayon. Marami pa po tayong dapat ipaayos.”
On Mar. 16, Kapatiran ng Mahal na Poong Sta. Krus – Bauan, Batangas shared the plans for the proposed design of the facade by Architect G.Y. Amistoso Jr. According to the organization, the plan is not yet final and the ministry is open for consultations. The body also said they are coordinating with NHCP, and that they are abiding by the agency’s standards on preserving cultural heritage sites.