NHCP orders walkway to historic church removed

REMOVE THE GATEWAY. The National Historic Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) ordered the removal of the walkway leading to the Anini-y Church. On Friday, March 19, 2021, the Department of Public Works and Highways of the Ancient Technical District asked the contractor to fulfill the order. (Photo courtesy of DPWH Antique)

SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antiquity – The National Historic Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) ordered the removal of the PHP 19 million covered walkway built in the parish plaza leading to the 383-year-old St. John Nepomuceno Church or Anini-y Church in the municipality of Anini -y, Antiquity.

The ancient architect of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Golda Mae Arnaez, said in an interview on Friday that district engineer Joselito Antonio had already informed the contractor of the bridge project, B. Bernardo Construction, Inc., the letter from NHCP ordering the removal of the gateway.

“NHCP President René Escalante, in his letter dated March 11, said the Technical Working Group (TWG) on heritage issues at their meeting disapproved of the construction of the covered walkway,” Arnaez said. .

The TWG on Heritage Matters is made up of representatives from the NHCP, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) and the DPWH, who met on March 9, 2021 and disapproved of building structure.

Arnaez added that Escalante’s letter suggested that the parking area be moved further away from the plaza to preserve and protect the architectural integrity of the historic site.

On February 9, 2021, Escalante also wrote to DPWH Antique saying that the ongoing rehabilitation of the parish square “desecrates the spacious and magnificent facade of the church”.

He added that all squares and public squares from the Spanish and American period are declared National Historic Sites by Council Resolution No. 7, Art. 2018.

In a separate interview with the municipal mayor of Anini-y, Maxfil Policar, he said they were proud to have the church as a heritage site in the province.

He said the church was built by the first Augustinian missionaries who shared the Catholic religion with the locals.

“The church, which is now 383 years old, has majestic Baroque architecture,” he said. It was built using coral and limestone materials abundant in the coastal municipality.

“We imagined it (covered walkway) as Luneta Park where there is a walk that would be linked to the real beauty of the Baroque church,” Policar said.

However, he would like the DPWH and the contractor to coordinate closely with the NHCP so that they are also properly guided in the implementation of the project.

Arnaez also said that the NHCP, in its March 11 letter, somehow lifted the cease and desist order (CDO) issued on February 9, so the contractor could already resume work.

“The contractor should resume work as soon as possible, but he must follow the new order from NHCP to dismantle the concrete walkway constructed and relocation of the proposed parking area,” she said.

She said this is also in line with NHCP Resolution No.7s. 2018 on the preservation of the open spaces of the historic square. (ANP)

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