Various leaders from stakeholders sign the acknowledgement of support at the Governor’s Mansion in Tagbilaran City. From left, Archt. Augusto Villalon of ICOMOS Philippines, Bishop Leonardo Medroso of the Diocese of Tagbilaran, Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Jr., Margaret Lacson-Ecarma of BRG, Gov. Edgar Chatto, Chair Dr. Maria Serena Diokno of NHCP, Atty. Lucille Karen Isberto of NCCA and Corito Bautista of BRG.

Exclusive to the Filipino Reporter

An ambitious 50-year program to restore centuries-old churches in Bohol destroyed or severely damaged by the October 2013 earthquake is underway.

The project is spearheaded by the Washington, D.C.-based Bohol Restoration Group (BRG), a nonprofit 501(C) 3 organization.

This was learned this week during a telephone interview by this writer with Margaret Lacson-Ecarma, BRG Executive Director.

“After the 7.2 earthquake on Oct. 15, 2013, the Bohol Restoration Group (BRG) was formed in response to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C.’s call for help to the local Filipino-Americans,” the BRG leader said.

“Certain groups of Filipinos and Americans immediately came together in an all-volunteer effort to create working committees based on professional expertise involving restoration, architecture, community advocacy and fundraising,” she said.

Lacson-Ecarma added, “We are pleased to report that as of today, we have on our side ANCOP USA North East A Region, Kapit-Bisig D.C. Chapter; FAPI; Quinn Evans; The National Cathedral; US-ICOMOS and UNESCO’s International Council on Monuments and Sites.”

The group’s 1st phase of work is the tarping of the ruins of the fully-collapsed church in Loon, Bohol to aid in the salvage and recovery of artifacts.

Scope of work is provided by BRG, in collaboration with the National Museum of the Philippines, National Commission of the Arts, National Heritage Commission, Tagbilaran, Leyte Diocese, and the local government in Bohol.

In past months, well-acclaimed Filipino pianist Raul Sunico, president of Cultural Center of the Philippines, held piano concerts in Washington, D.C., Maryland, New York and Georgia which raised funds for BRG.

The concerts, dubbed “Love for Bohol,” were presented by BRG in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy, the US-Philippines Society, the Club Filipino of Georgetown University in Washington and the De Guzman and Ramos Group in Atlanta.

In one of the Sunico concerts, Philippine ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., Philippines top diplomat in the U.S., appealed to Filipino-Americans.

He said in part, “Let us help sustain the flow of assistance and remind the people of Bohol that they are not forgotten.”

Lacson-Ecarma said BRG volunteers have conducted ocular visits to some of the 10 damaged historical heritage sites, including Our Lady of the Immaculate Church in Baclayon that was erected in 1717; Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Dauis that was erected in 1697; and Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Loay that was erected in 1795.

“We are currently addressing the immediate restoration aid for both fully and semi-collapsed churches while partnering with local groups on the ground to provide vocational training in restoration skills,” the BRG leader concluded.


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