The Capilla de San Pancracio, more commonly known as ‘Lumang Simbahan,’ inside the La Loma Cemetery will get a much-needed face-lift after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kalookan and Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation Inc. finally signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for its rehabilitation on June 19. 

Photo from Escuela Taller de Filipinas Inc.

The chapel is considered a National Cultural Treasure (NCT), which is the highest designation given to valuable cultural assets.

The Head of Escuela Taller de Filipinas’ rehabilitation team – architect Jeffrey Cobilla – said their main objective is the conservation of the chapel. 

He mentioned that the first phase of the project will involve the main facade of the structure, specifically the vegetation that’s been growing over it. 

“The common objective is the overall conservation of the chapel. The first phase is the mainfacade. During the initial inspection, advanced plant growth and stone deterioration were the major problems that we observed,” Cobilla told Manila Bulletin.

Similarly, the unruly plant growth on top of the chapel was what concerned Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David.

“The poor state of the façade because of the abundant vegetation, I’ve been horrified by this since five years ago,” he shared.

Apart from removing the vegetation, the team of conservationists will be strengthening parts of the chapel using materials originally used to construct it – adobe and lime (apog). 

David noted that he sought the help of experts first and foremost when it came to the rehabilitation of the site as he didn’t want it ‘changed’ only ‘restored.’

“The last time I celebrated Mass here, somebody … said, ‘Bishop, pa-renovate mo na ‘tong chapel na ito’ and I said, ‘You’re not using the right vocabulary… it is a crime to renovate this chapel.’ We don’t call it renovation; we call it restoration. Some people do not know the distinction, and I must admit that a lot of crimes against heritage have been committed, sometimes even by the religious sector,” he explained. 

According to Escuela Taller de Filipinas, it would take at least eight months to restore the chapel’s facade. Meanwhile, years will be needed to come up with an appropriate conservation management plan for the entire site. 

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Image credit: Escuela Taller de Filipinas Inc.