MANILA, May 12, 2014—The Parish of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (Malate Church), whose centuries-old church has recently seen a steady decline, appeals to the faithful to restore the baroque building to its former beauty.
Through its “5-5-5 March of the Thousands” campaign, the parish hopes to raise five million pesos (P5,000,000) each year to immediately address this problem.
In 2009, a thorough study conducted on the church by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) reveals that its exterior walls and façade are “in urgent need of restoration”, which prompted the parish to come up with a five-year restoration program.
NHCP investigation revealed that the structure is showing alarming signs like “surface material losses through pulverization and disintegration; surface scaling that destroys newer plasters; biological and woody growths; rising dump and water seepage; and detached adobe components or falling debris”.
The study also notes that the church’s adobe material (blocks of soft volcanic rock) has “high moisture content, which means that it cannot withstand extreme and prolonged weather conditions”.
It explains that Malate Church’s less-than-ideal location facing Manila Bay exposes it even more to the elements.
The cement plaster used extensively for repairing the damage before the study’s findings did more harm than good, it adds, because the “moisture trapped underneath the walls detached the plaster”.
NHCP is clear on the incompatibility of cement plaster and adobe walls.
Rich history, rich devotion
As a declared National Historical Monument, the Malate Catholic Church had to get NHCP’s approval for all restoration or construction work.
What is now known as the Malate Church was rebuilt for the third time from scratch on the site of an older building through the initiative of then parish priest Fr. Francisco Cuadrado after the typhoon of June 1868 destroyed it beyond repair.
Together with the poor fisherfolk of his parish, Cuadrado toured the city and nearby provinces to raise the much-needed funds for the reconstruction.
The upper façade of the church was completed thirty years later.
Experts say the façade of the present church is a “good blending of Muslim and baroque architecture…The three-story façade integrates with ingenuity the cylindrical end buttresses, hexagonal forms converted into belfries.”
But besides its architecture, Malate Church is also famous for the beloved image enshrined within it, the Virgen de los Remedios, which was brought from Spain by Friar Juan de Guevara, OSA in 1624.
Among the 17 listed Philippines churches honoring Mary with the title “Nuestra Señora de los Remedios”, Malate’s is the oldest, having been established by the Augustinian friars on September 8, 1588.
Interested donors are advised to coordinate with the Malate Parish office for proper acknowledgement.
Phone: (632) 400-5876 to 77 and (632) 523-2593
Fax: (632) 524-6866) (Raymond Sebastián)