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Manila Cathedral to reopen after two years

Refurbishment project nears end

Manila Cathedral to reopen after two years

Workers refurbish Manila Cathedral (Roi Lagarde)

Manila Cathedral is set to finally reopen after undergoing almost two years of refurbishment.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, said restoration work on the prime basilica of the Philippines will continue until next year, but the church will reopen by December.

“The workers said they will try to finish it by December, at least the interior, but restoration work to the exterior will continue,” Tagle said. “Let us pray that it will be fulfilled,” he added.

The Manila Cathedral, known formally as the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, closed its doors in February 2012 for major repairs.

A detailed survey showed the cathedral was unstable due to soil liquefaction, causing cracks in the walls and ceilings.

Construction experts sounded the alarm and warned of a possible collapse should a strong tremor strike Manila.

The survey also showed signs that groundwater was seeping into the church flooring, which darkened the marble in some places.

 Having also found other problems, including damaged pipes, more than P64 million ($US1.5 million) was raised for repairs to the historic church, located in the heart of Manila’s old Intramuros district.

 Last December, Tagle himself staged a concert that raised P14 million ($325,000) for renovation work on the 54-year old structure.

 “Other problems were also found as the renovation was ongoing and so we decided to just have them all fixed,” Tagle said.

 “It’s hard if you just fix some parts and then close it again later for repair,” he added.

 Since the renovation started, the cathedral had been closed to Masses, baptisms, weddings and other services.

 The cathedral was originally built in 1581 but has been destroyed and rebuilt several times due to fire, quakes, typhoons and bombings in World War II.

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