Lost Bohol churches relived at Negros Museum

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By Danny B. Dangcalan

A Walk in the Park

Thursday, May 29, 2014

WHEN a 7.2-magnitude quake hit Bohol on October 15, 2013, it killed 222 people and damaged 73,000 structures, including centuries-old churches.

Considered the deadliest quake in the Philippines in 23 years, the tremor was equivalent to 32 Hiroshima bombs. It reduced the Church of the Lady of Light in Loon, the oldest and one of the largest in the province, into rubble.

The quake also destroyed the Church of San Pedro Apostol in Loboc, the Santa Cruz Parish Church in Maribojoc, the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon, and other churches such as in Loay, Dauis, Dimiao, and Tubigon.


In 2008, five years prior to the destructions of these churches, the Ayala Museum exhibited the reproductions of murals from churches of various Boholano Dioceses.

The exhibit, dubbed Kisame: Visions of Heaven and Earth, featured the magnificent, intricately painted ceilings in various stages of preservation including those in the parishes of Alburquerque, Baclayon, Cortes, Dauis, Dimiao, Lila, Loay, Loboc, Loon, Maribojoc, Panglao, and Tubigon.

Several young Cebuano painters who distinguished themselves as artists par excellence despite the lack of formal training were responsible for the religious art that adorn the churches’ upper interiors since the late 1920s. One of the renowned painters was the late Raymundo Francia, Cebu’s Michelangelo. He painted an estimated 80 percent of Bohol’s churches.

The photographs were from Executive Secretary Paquito "Jojo" Ochoa Jr.

The exhibit, in partnership with the Filipino Heritage Festival lead by its president Armita Rufino, is aimed at generating greater awareness of the historical and cultural significance of Bohol’s church murals and ceiling paintings.

Curated by Fr. Milan Ted Torralba, the executive secretary of the Permanent Collection of the Cultural Heritage of the Church-Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, the exhibition provides Filipinos with a closer perspective of these antique masterpieces.

In 2012, the exhibit was transferred to the Museum of the Filipino People, a component museum of the National Museum of the Philippines, as a tie-up with the Ayala Museum.

Torralba explains that the installation design is meant to make the viewer look up not only to replicate the experience of viewing the art in a cathedral, but to symbolize our upward gaze to the heavens while being terrestrially-bound. His co-curator is Kenneth Esguerra, senior curator and head of conservation for the Ayala Museum.

Last Monday, May 26, the Kisame exhibition was brought to the Negros Museum in Bacolod.

Lyn Gamboa, president of the Negros Cultural Foundation, said the exhibit features large-format photographs of architectural ceiling paintings selected from 17 churches of Bohol.

“This month, as we celebrate the National Heritage Month, we also encourage everyone to remember our Art and Culture that has always been there—but taken for granted. It is tragic that we realize their value only when they are gone,” Gamboa said.

“Kisame undoubtedly manifests the richness of our heritage,” she added.

The Kisame exhibit at the Negros Museum runs until June 26.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 29, 2014.


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