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 Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino might be the most popular church in Cebu due to the devotion of many Catholics around the Philippines and the world to the Holy Child enshrined in this edifice. Every third Sunday of January, the number of people multiplies as it is the feast of the venerated icon and fiesta of Cebu City which is the Sinulog.
The present structure of the Sto. Nino was started in 29 February 1735 when the foundations were started. Prior to this building were three or four other churches that were erected but got destroyed. It was finished in 1739 by workers from Carcar, Boljoon and San Nicolas who were paid in cash for their services.
When it was built, Fr. Visitor General Juan de Albarran employed three basic elements of architecture: utility, durability and beauty. It has withstood earthquakes but was restored and reinforced in 1782 and 1889. Until the earthquake of 15 October, it has stood proud.
Of the churches and religious heritage sites that were affected by the earthquake, Sto. Nino Minor Basilica suffered the most with its belfry toppling down with two bells falling with the debris. I don’t have any idea on the extent of damage inside as the church was cordoned off. Below are the images of the extent of damage to the basilica belfry.