By Helen Castaño | 10:31 PM | September 07, 2021
Nearly 8 years after it was destroyed by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, the historic Nuestra Senora de la Luz or Our Lady of Light Church was formally reopened to the faithful on the eve of the feast of Loon town, Sept. 7, 2021.
The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP), which supervised Loon church’s restoration, turned over the church to the Diocese of Tagbilaran.
Present during the turnover ceremony were Vice Gov. Rene Relampagos, Rep. Edgar Chatto, Loon Mayor Elvi Peter Relampagos, provincial board members, Dir. General Jeremy Barns of the NMP, Rene Escalante of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Bishop Alberto Uy, priests, nuns and parishioners.
Relampagos said the church housed a lot of memories.
“This is not only a place of worship but a part of our identity,” he said.
According to Chatto, the Loon Church is one of the splendid churches in the country.
“I never imagine that the restoration will be this beautiful. The church is not a building it is actually a symbol of our strong faith,” he said.
In his Homily, Bishop Uy said that it wasn8 years of making haste slowly and carefully.
“Natukod ang simbahan dili ang paggamit sa karaan nga mga bato kundi dili ang buhing mga bato, kamo, kita nga mga magtotoo sa Diyos,” said Bishop Uy. He added that church should magnify the Lord and Mary, the lady of light.
The church of Loon was one of the two heritage churches that were completely reduced to rubble after the powerful quake on Oct. 15, 2013.
NMP said the church and convent had been rebuilt several times from the 1780s through the early part of the mid-1800s. The earlier structures has been built of light materials and were gutted by fire twice in the 19th century. This prompted the construction of a stone masonry church built between 1855 and 1864. The building of the stone masonry church is the pinnacle of Recollect architecture in Bohol and resulted in one of the grandest churches in the Visayas: the Nuestalra Senora de la Luz parish church.
The church complex, which includes the Inang-angan stone stairway and the circular cemetery, was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the NMP on Dec. 6, 2010. As a National Cultural Treasure, the Loon Church Complex was recognized as a value highly significant and important to the country and the nation. Also in 2010, Loon Church was declared a National Historical Landmark (NHL) by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. The new NHL marker was unveiled during the ceremonial turnoever of the NMP.
The Inang-angan stairway, also built in the 19th century, was significantly damaged during the 2013 earthquake. Restoration of the Inang-angan was completed in 2016 and was the first quake-damaged heritage structure restored by the NMP in the province.