Earthquake damage at Carcar Church

The beautiful facade of Carcar Church which is a combination of Muslim, neoclassic and baroque elements

The beautiful facade of Carcar Church which is a combination of Muslim, neoclassic and baroque elements. The earthquake of 15 October mainly damaged the left belfry and cracks were seen at the back of the pediment.

Crack due to the earthquake of February 2013

Crack due to the earthquake of February 2013

The fateful day of 15 October 2013, when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the town of Sagbayan in Central Bohol was an unexpected cataclysm. Almost all the heritage churches of that province were badly damaged with two churches in Maribojoc and Loon went down in rubble.

The neighboring island province of Cebu was also badly affected with several buildings damaged and structures suffering cracks. Two days after the disaster, me and friends from the Cathedral Museum of Cebu inspected some churches in the southeastern side, from Carcar to Argao and I was able to photograph the damages suffered in these structures. A day before this trip, I also surveyed city heritage structures that includes four churches and a cemetery chapel.

The Parish of Carcar in southeastern Cebu has one of the beautiful churches in the province. Its facade is a blend of different architectural styles: Muslim, Neoclassic and Baroque. Located on top of a hill, it is imposing.

The 15 October earthquake didn’t spare Carcar Church. Although the damage is not as grave among Cebu heritage structures as compared to the Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino wherein the belfry fell, this one suffered with cracks both exterior and interior. Also, last February, the church also suffered cracks on the facade when an earthquake struck centering in neighboring Negros Oriental province.

A cursory glance of the exterior of the structure doesn’t give much information about the effect of the earthquake. However, a close inspection will reveal that the left belfry (when facing the facade) has the heaviest damage. The other belfry seems to be okay.

Carcar Church’s belfry is one of its outstanding features because of the minaret like dome. Some say it calls to mind mosques or Russian Orthodox churches. Inside these belfries are bells of different sizes cast from as early as 1810, the oldest, to as late as 1929.

The damage on the left belfry is hardest on one side, although all sides suffered cracks. The crack is such that the bell that used to hang at the opening was dislodged. Parts of the coral stones fell down while some are scattered at the floor.

Other than the belfry, the pediment, which houses also a mechanical clock has suffered cracks as shown below. Inside the church, coral stones from the capitals have been loosened and when one observes the ceiling of the right aisle (when facing the altar), it seems to separate from the central aisle. A lapida has also been dislodged.

A close look of the left belfry with the damage on all sides

A close look of the left belfry with the damage on all sides

Close up of the front of the left belfry. Note the cracks at the top and the side of the opening

Close up of the front of the left belfry. Note the cracks at the top and the side of the opening

View of the pediment and section which also houses the mechanical clock. Yellow ellipse marks the damage with the crack extending to the base of the belfry; red ellipse, the baroque pediment cracked at both sides and might fall if there's another strong earthquake

View of the pediment and section which also houses the mechanical clock. Yellow ellipse marks the damage with the crack extending to the base of the belfry; red ellipse, the baroque pediment cracked at both sides and might fall if there’s another strong earthquake

Side of the left belfry with the heaviest damage. Left, external damage with crack reaching the dome; right, view of damage from the inside of the belfry, same side

Side of the left belfry with the heaviest damage. Left, external damage with crack reaching the dome; right, view of damage from the inside of the belfry, same side

Because of the heavy damage at one side of the left belfry, this bell fell.

Because of the heavy damage at one side of the left belfry, this bell fell.

Inside the church, these parts also sustained damage. Lower inset, pile of dislodged coral stones from he capital above; upper inset, detail of the damaged capital

Inside the church, these parts also sustained damage. Lower inset, pile of dislodged coral stones from he capital above; upper inset, detail of the damaged capital

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