This handout photo taken on Oct. 26, courtesy of the Facebook page of parish priest Christian Edward Padua, shows a damaged church of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in La Paz town, Abra province, north of Manila, a day after a 6.4-magnitude quake struck the province Oct. 25. (Photo: Christian Edward Padua/ AFP)
At least two dioceses in the Philippines have appealed for donations to undertake church repairs after a recent earthquake that hit several provinces in the country.
The Diocese of Bangued in Abra province and the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao in Cagayan province, in northern Philippines, have appealed for aid to repair cracked walls and fallen belfries damaged by the Oct. 25 earthquake.
“We are appealing to the kind hearts of our fellow Filipinos to give us help in order to restore our damaged churches. This [earthquake] adds to the present suffering of our people who are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic,” Bangued Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian told UCA News.
Bishop Jaucian said Filipinos should not only hear the cry for aid from Catholics but also from Protestants whose churches likewise suffered from the earthquake.
“Catholics and Protestants are one in praying and begging for help. Both our churches were damaged by the strong earthquake last Tuesday. This only proves that regardless of religion, Filipinos treat our places of worship as sacred,” the prelate added.
Bishop Jaucian was referring to the church of Iglesia Filipina Independiente also known as the Aglipayan Church, whose century-old church crumbled during the earthquake.
The Santo Tomas church in Tuguegarao province was also not spared when its bricks sustained cracks. The life-size crucifix was also removed from the sanctuary together with several images of saints.
“The chain of the crucifix broke. The image was antique and was damaged when it fell. Thus, the statue of Christ broke the left arm. We need to repair this because this image was the symbol of the faith of the local people in town,” Sto. Nino parish priest Lorenzo Caguioa told UCA News.
Government structures were also not spared by the earthquake.
Government authorities were forced to shut down schools and government offices after they sustained cracks and broken windows in both provinces.
“Our computer room was destroyed together with more than 30 laptops. The walls and the ceiling collapsed burying our laptops in rubbles,” EsterioApolinar, a school principal in a local town in Abra province, told reporters on Oct. 26.
Apolinar had suspended classes for several days until the education department would declare their buildings were safe for their students to return to their classes.
The Catholic Church’s social arm has announced it had deployed teams to assess the damage caused by the earthquake.
Caritas Philippines had also begun the transport of building materials to be distributed among northern dioceses with damaged churches.
“Our social action centers are already capacitated to act accordingly. They would know already how to respond. Right now, we appeal for building materials for the safety of everyone,” Caritas chief, Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, said in a statement.
The prelate had also pulled out Caritas’ funds from the Lenten program Alay Kapwa, an event when Filipino churchgoers donated money for victims of natural disasters.
“We have allotted funds from the pockets of our own people. We have trust funds for this kind of emergency but they are not enough especially with the current price of construction materials,” Bishop Bagaforo added.