Saturday, May 12, 2018

Piddig Church restoration begins

BISHOP Renato Mayugba leads the groundbreaking ceremony in front of the St. Anne Parish in Piddig, Ilocos Norte. (Lei Adriano)

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

Piddig, Ilocos Norte—When Father Lorenzo Torreflores witnessed the closing of baroque-style St. Anne parish church on September 14, 2014, the parish priest said he got emotional as it was his first time to see an old church closed due to structural problems and deemed unfit for occupancy.

The residents felt same feeling of the historical town of Piddig as they knew their ancestors had put in their blood, sweat, and tears to build the 207-year-old church.

But four years later, restoration works began and it includes its bell tower and perimeter walls as well as retrofitting of buttresses and roofing.

On March 22, Laoag diocese Bishop Renato Mayugba, along with National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) representatives and some Piddig officials led the groundbreaking ceremony and releasing of time capsule for the church restoration. They projected it for completion in January 2019.

“The church has witnessed so much devastation over the course of time. It’s now our time to put in our faith to endure and cooperate with one another to continue the living faith of our ancestors through this church restoration,” Mr. Mayugba said as he shared that some 200 years ago, the natives of Piddig constructed the original church, one of them may have been his ancestor as he also traced his ancestry, incidentally to this town.

As one of the oldest churches in province, Carminda Arevalo, NHCP deputy director for administration said the restoration is very important in the colorful history of Piddig, popularly known as the home of the “Basi Revolt”.

Ms. Arevalo likewise assured that the construction firm involved is an expert in restoration.

In a separate interview, Fr. Carlito “Joey” Ranjo Jr., head of the restoration committee of the Diocese of Laoag said it took about two years for restoration experts to study the structure and materials used to determine the right approach to fully restore the church.

In September 2014, the Laoag diocese closed the St. Anne parish for fear that it may endanger churchgoers. This emanated from a report of the Piddig municipal engineer declaring the building as “unfit for human occupancy”; the official said the wooden trusses were already deteriorating and the church foundation has loosened over the years.

Piddig, some 21 km from the capital Laoag City, is a former “visita” (a community with a chapel) of neighboring Dingras town. In 1798, Spanish officials established Piddig as a town and the Augustinians created St. Anne parish in 1810.

During the Philippine-American War, a five-member team of Filipino guerrillas used the church as a base to repel American attacks.

An earthquake toppled the top section of the bell tower on March 19, 1932, but officials then had the church repaired.

During the World War II, Japanese forces burned the convent and the sacristy, leading to the destruction of its parish records. In 1965, officials restored the church’s facade and its interior.

Later, they also repaired the convent and converted into a parochial school, the St. Anne Academy, church records showed.

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