The restored historical churches of the Diocese of Dumaguete (photo courtesy of Msgr. Julius Heruela)

Three historic churches restored through a government grant amounting to more than P70 million were officially turned over by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to the Diocese of Dumaguete recently.

Msgr. Julius Heruela, chairman of the diocese’s Commission on Church Cultural Heritage said the restored churches are the St. Isidore the Farmer Parish Church in Lazi, the St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish Church in Dauin, and the St. Isidore the Farmer Parish Church in Zamboanguita.

The restoration of the churches began in 2018 and received a combined government funding through the NHCP of almost P70 million.  P40 million was allotted for the Lazi church, P20 million for the Dauin church and P10 million for the Zamboanguita church.

NHCP deputy executive director Carminda Arevalo headed a six-member team from the commission for the official turnover of the churches on August 26, in the municipality of Lazi in Siquijor province. The official unveiling of the historical markers in the Dauin and Zamboanguita churches were also held.  The Lazi Church already has a historical marker installed.

Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes was present for the ceremonial turnover. He also led the re-dedication of the churches and celebrated the Holy Mass.

Arevalo said the three churches will be included in the NHCP’s National Registry of Historic Sites and Structures.

The National Museum of the Philippines hailed the St. Isidore the Famer Church in Lazi, which is also popular for its grand convent, as a National Cultural Treasure. It is also a nominee to the UNESCO World Heritage list of Baroque Churches of the Philippines, as stated by Heruela.

On the other hand, two other legacy churches in Dauin and Zamboanguita are scheduled to be turned over on Thursday morning and afternoon, respectively, where the mayors and parish priests of these towns will be present to honor this event.  (RJ Espartinez)