Last March 3, 2016 the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) turned over Cebu’s two top historical sites that were damaged by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013 to the Augustinian friars.
After about six months of construction work, the restoration of the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino’s bell tower and the Magellan’s Cross kiosks were completed.
Present in the event are the respective representatives of the national government and the church that was held in front of the centuries-old basilica. The president, his excellency Benigno Aquino III, NHCP Chairman, Ma. Serna I. Diokno, and Chairman of the National Committee on Archives of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Fr. Harold Rentoria, OSA, who all represented the government. Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Cebu, Jose S. Palma, rector of the Basilica, Fr. Jonas Mejares, OSA and prior provincial, Fr. Eusebio Berdon, OSA received the turnover of the historical sites.
The Augustinians had been the caretaker of these two historical sites since they were built during the Spanish era. The Magellan’s cross kiosk is a symbol of the Christianization of the Philippines. The Basilica is the home of the miraculous image of Snr. Santo Nino, which was gift of Ferdinand Magellan to the newly converted Queen of Cebu, Juana.
The government spent P14 million for the restoration of the bell tower and P3 million for the Magellan’s Cross kiosks.
According to a local broadsheet, the contractor used cement as foundation of the new bell tower. The concrete walls and beams were clad with the old coral stones from the original bell tower that collapsed during the 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Oct. 15, 2013.
President Aquino said in his message that “These two structures are the most popular sites in Cebu. These are treasures that reflect the rich history of your place. …the government has the responsibility to take care of these heritage zones,”
It took two years to complete the restoration of the bell tower since NHCP had to undergo thorough engineering and architectural researches, which was said by the rector, Fr. Mejares, in his acceptance message.
The Augustinians and the devotees of the Holy Child are extremely joyful and thankful to the national government for its effort and expertise in the restoration of these two historical sites.