Fil-Ams urged to help quake-razed Bohol churches
WASHINGTON, DC—While the rebuilding of typhoon-devastated communities in Leyte and Samar remains a priority, Filipinos in the United States should also take a look at Bohol and help the earthquake-stricken island-province rise from the rubble, urged the Philippine ambassador to the US.
“Let us help sustain the flow of assistance and remind the people of Bohol that they are not forgotten,” Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said as he sought the help of the Filipino-American community in restoring national heritage sites destroyed by the 7.2 temblor that struck Bohol last year.
Cuisia made the appeal on behalf of Bohol in his message to those who attended the weekend fund-raising concerts at the Emory University in Atlanta and Georgetown University in Washington that featured world-renowned Filipino pianist Raul Sunico.
The concerts dubbed “Love for Bohol” were presented by the Bohol Restoration Group (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.
Virginia-based Filipino pianist and tenor Carlos Ibay joined Dr. Sunico, who is also the president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, in the Georgetown concert.
“The outpouring of support for those affected by last year’s natural disasters in the Central Philippines has been truly uplifting,” Cuisia said. “Our friends in the international community and Filipinos themselves have acted in concert to provide aid to the people of the Visayas region.”
However, Cuisia noted that substantial resources and expertise are still needed to rebuild infrastructure, particularly the centuries-old heritage churches in Bohol that were destroyed or damaged by the October 15, 2013 earthquake.
“Bohol’s earthquake-stricken communities and historic churches hang from the rubble and continue to wait for more help,” Cuisia said. “I believe our kababayans here in the United States can do more to help.”
The BRG, which is a 501(C) (3) tax exempt group based in Washington, is made up of Filipino and American volunteers who responded to Ambassador Cuisia’s call for help in restoring the damaged churches, some of which are in the tentative list of declared heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
BRG Executive Director Margaret Lacson-Ecarma said their volunteers include experts in the fields of heritage restoration and preservation from the National Cathedral, Quinn Evans, Leuterio Thomas, and UNESCO’s International Council on Monuments and Sites.
Lacson-Ecarma said BRG volunteers have conducted ocular visits to some 10 of the damaged historical heritage sites including the Our Lady of the Immaculate Church in Baclayon that was erected in 1717; the Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Dauis that was erected in 1697; and the 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,” Lacson-Ecarma said.
“Our focus is to bring together global restoration and preservation experts who are committed to work closely with the heritage communities in saving these international cultural landmarks,” she added. ###
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