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Centuries-old Church undergoes repair

Crumbling exterior of UNESCO heritage site poses danger to the public, mayor says

Scaffolding on the facade of St Augustine Church in Paoay Scaffolding on the facade of St Augustine Church in Paoay
  • Leilani Adriano, Paoay
  • Philippines
  • March 9, 2012
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A 300-year-old church in Ilocos Norte, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is undergoing a major facelift as part of the province’s tourism campaign.

“Sorry for the temporary inconvenience,” Mayor Bonifacio Clemente of Paoay town said today, as scaffolds and temporary bamboo braces stood on the façade of St Augustine Church.

The restoration work is expected to be finished less than a month from now.

Original construction materials such as coral stone, however, will be replaced with substitute materials in accordance with environmental laws that prohibit the extraction of corals, said architect Reynaldo Inovero, chief of the National Historical Commission’s historic preservation division.

However, some stakeholders have expressed doubts about the renovation and have called for a meeting before anything is done on one of the few remaining Baroque churches in the Philippines.

“We presume the design is correct because [the National Historical Commission] is the proper authority to handle it. What is more important is the safety of our people rather than originality,” Clemente added.

Augustinian friars started constructing the church in 1694.
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