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.
If one will draw a horizontal line from Cebu’s southeastern municipality of Dalaguete and extend it eastward till Bohol, that line will be between Loon and Maribojoc municipalities in Bohol, two towns where the centuries old churches were reduced to rubble during the 15 October earthquake. While it might be inconsequential, but Dalaguete, next to the Sto. Nino Basilica in Cebu City seems to be the second Cebu church to sustain heavy damage.
The parish church of San Guillermo de AquitaÃ±a was constructed starting 1802 by Fray Juan Chacel. It was finished in 1825 while the 33 meter high octagonal belfry was constructed between 1859-1860. It is one of the beautiful churches built by the Augustinians that comprise the southern Cebu heritage trail.
The damage of the earthquake to the church is critical. First, there are several cracks around the church and kumbento. The facade has a top to bottom crack in the middle, the the same with another one at the belfry side. The belfry itself sustained large cracks, which might be due to the whiplash effect and the way it looks, a big portion of the top to middle can just slide off, falling to the front of the church if another big tremor will happen. The top of the facade has somewhat tilted forward a little that opened up the ceiling at the choir loft.
The apex of the back wall also fell with coral stones and rubble falling into the sacristy. Miraculously, a part fell into the glass case of the Nuestra SeÃ±ora de Manaoag but only falling at the side of the image. While the antique wooden image of San Agustin, perched at the topmost niche of the retablo mayor turned left while its miter fell to the ground.
At the kumbento, there are superficial cracks and heavy damaged too although, the engineer with us said that the foundations are still okay. A portion of the kitchen floor fell to the ground while plaster cracked and fell exposing the tabique pampango walling.There were also several cracks around doors and another one on the arch above the staircase.