(UPDATE) The 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol and nearby areas Tuesday was devastating not only for its death toll but also for its impact on well-known heritage sites.
Among the earthquake’s casualties were the churches of Loboc and Baclayon, two of the local churches that were once considered for the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Both churches were built by Jesuit priests. The Loboc Church was originally built in 1602 and reconstructed in 1638 while the Baclayon Church was completed in 1727.
“The century old church in Baclayon is heavily damaged according to Jun Dy of comm rescue group in Bohol,” the Philippine Information Agency said via Twitter.
The Baclayon Church was among the Jesuit churches submitted for the tentative list of world heritage sites in 1993.
“The Jesuits designed the church with an intricately designed façade (though unfinished), every window has cherub designs under the opening,” UNESCO said.
The Baclayon Church, meanwhile, is made of coral stones cut into square blocks and piled on top of each other using bamboo tools and cemented using egg white.
Accounts say the Jesuits first chose Baclayon as their seat in Bohol, but were later on forced to move to Loboc due to attacks by Moro marauders.
The Loboc Church is classified as a baroque church and submitted for inclusion in the world heritage list in 2006.
In the 19th century, the roof of the L-shaped Loboc church was made of clay roof tiles. Its walls are made of coral stone. It also housed a a 19th-century pipe organ.
Meanwhile, Government experts on the preservation of historical sites will meanwhile be sent to affected sites in Cebu and Bohol to assess the damage caused by the quake.
A joint team of experts will fly to the sites Thursday, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Historical Commission and the National Museum said.
The team is expected to determine the severity of damage, identify properties that need to be secured and priorities for restoration and estimate resources needed.
“A majority of these structures have been declared National Cultural Treasures, National Historical Landmarks, and Important Cultural Properties, all of which are protected by the Heritage Law,” the NCCA statement read.
Aside from the two churches, other sites in Bohol once considered for the World Heritage List include the Chocolate Hills National Monument and Panglao Island.
Bohol is touted as one of the main tourist attractions in the country for the Chocolate Hills, the rare tarsier, its beaches, old churches and ancestral homes.
Sad day if reports are true that one of the oldest and beautiful church in PH is completely damaged #loboc— Lucille Sering (@lucille_sering) October 15, 2013
Heartbroken to see two of the oldest churches, the 500 year old #Baclayon and #Loboc Church, are severely damaged by M7.2 #earthquake— Mike Rada (@mjrada11) October 15, 2013
— ChristianKarl (@christiankarl19) October 15, 2013