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Rebuilding the cathedrals, but what happens to the small churches?

Rebuilding of historical church in Bohol (2016).

One of the saddest outcomes of the 7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol in October 2013 were the damages on centuries old churches in the province. These buildings are not only places of worship but are considered heritage monuments that date back to the Spanish era. Their structure is as old as the religious artifacts they hold on display as symbols of the cahtolic faith.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the National Museum (NM) took the lead in the assessment and recontruction of the ruined churches because these structures are herritage sites and are important part Philippine history and culture.

Two years after the earthquake, there has been significant progress in rebuilding and reconstruction of bridges and buildings and the herritage sites. Unfortunately, not everyone benefitted from the attention of the government agencies and international donations that poured in soon after the disaster.

In small communities such as Barangay Tungod, residents lost their health centers and their place of worship. While the bigger infrastructures are almost completely rebuilt, the small church in Tungod remains in rubbles. What is left of their old church are piles of pews alongside the road and a crumbled cement post that holds a small bronze bell used to call on the faithful. The The makeshift altar is under temporary roofing while a tent is set up every Sunday for communion. The votive stand seemed like it was dug up from the rubble. It is warped and holds no candles but it remains standing as a landmark of a place of worship.

The residents of Tungod are resilient even if the best option for them is to relocate to avoid being victims of future calamities. Households in the barangay are mostly low income, but residents are determined to raise funds for the reconstruction of their chuch by donating Php 50 to 200 (approximately USD 1 to 4) at a time. The list of residents are posted on salvaged ply wood with their corresponding contribution. Public posting of the donations of individuals or families enforces fundraising within the community. Given the economic situation of the barangay and its residents, it may take years to raise significant amount of funds to reconstruct the church. In the mean time, cost of hardware continues to increase, and typhoons are becoming frequent and more intense.

HAND Philippines is helping Barangay Tungod in the reconstruction of their health center. Through public awareness of the state and condition of the area, this assistance could be extended in help rebuild other structures such as the church. HAND Philippines is reaching out to its generous supporters to help the residents of Tunod by sending their donations through the organizations website. Get involved in rebuilding barangay Tungod! Your donations is much appreciated.

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