A nation grieves

It was in the world news early this week. Last Tuesday at 8:10 in the morning, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the tourist island province of Bohol situated in the central Philippines. The power of such temblor was equivalent to 32 atomic bombs, and it flattened houses, crumbled buildings, destroyed bridges, cracked roads and, as of last count, claimed the lives of over 170 people, mostly buried under piles of rubble. The death toll is expected to mount as more bodies are retrieved from under collapsed structures. I have featured Bohol (and the nearby province of Cebu which was also heavily affected) in many previous posts. Both provinces are popular tourist destinations. Bohol in particular is known for its Chocolate Hills , the rare Tarsier, the green Loboc River, pristine beaches and its centuries old churches. Aside from the lives that were lost, the nation grieves with the destruction of 10 heritage churches, all priceless national treasures, some dating back to the 1500s. I had the opportunity to photograph some of these beautiful churches during my early travels, and below I have paired my pictures of them with the pictures I saw in the news in the aftermath of the quake. For us photographers who enjoy capturing old, historic structures, these are heartbreaking sights:

Baclayon final1The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon town, Bohol. Built in 1717.

Loboc Church5The Church of San Pedro in Loboc, Bohol, originally built in 1602.

Loboc Church before and after1
Another picture of the Loboc Church, from the side.

Loboc Church belfry1The original bell tower of Loboc Church stands some 100 meters away from the church structure. Now it’s just a stump on the ground.

Dauis-Panglao Church2The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Dauis, Bohol built by Jesuits in mix style but influenced by Byzantine and Romanesque architecture.

loboc5The Church of Our Lady of Light in Loon, Bohol was the biggest church in the province, built in 1753. The whole structure was pulverized to the ground.

Basilica de Sto. Nino2The Minor Basilica of the Holy Child in Cebu City, founded in 1565. It’s belfry fell off.

These old churches were built with materials during those times – coral stones, mud bricks, limestones – and are most fragile. Throughout their history, they have been subjected to fires, typhoons, previous earthquakes and even World War II. They were the first to come down during the powerful quake this week. Experts are assessing if some of them can be rebuilt, while others like the Loon Church which was flattened, may have a new church built on the site. I am quite fortunate to have captured the beauty and grandeur of these churches in their original condition before the disaster. Now I have them immortalized in images, and preserved in my memory as I saw them in their full glory.

Note: These churches are featured in Junsjazz Images & Inspiration Digital Magazine Issue #2

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6 responses

  1. Really brings home the devastation comparing the current sites to the previous photos. Very moving, thanks fo rsharing.

    October 19, 2013 at 12:50 am

  2. Heartbreak, indeed. Both devastating and heartfelt.

    October 19, 2013 at 1:41 am

  3. …you are most fortunate to have your photos! such a tragedy…heartbreaking!

    October 19, 2013 at 3:01 am

  4. Makes such an impact to see both photos – the devastation seems to be on a grand scale, treasures lost, to say nothing of the lives and the impact on the populace.

    October 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm

  5. Oohh really heartbreaking !

    December 6, 2013 at 3:10 am

  6. Great collection of church photo. I love among them Loboc Church as many others.

    December 20, 2013 at 9:12 am

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