The UST GS CCCPET conducted an assessment of church cultural heritage in the Diocese of Maasin after the onslaught of Super Typhoon Odette in Northern Mindanao and Visayas last December 16, 2021. The massive destruction impacted eight provinces namely Surigao del Norte, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Guimaras and Palawan. Due to inaccessibility of the ground zero site and the absence of electricity, communication, food and water, the mission was allowed to investigate two weeks after the catastrophe from January 4-8, 2022. The schedule included an on-line inception meeting held last December 30, 2021 attended by representatives from UST GS CCCPET, UST College of Engineering, Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines (ASEP), Diocese of Tagbilaran, Diocese of Talibon, Diocese of Maasin and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). The on-site debriefing was held last January 8, 20222 in San Miguel, Leyte attended by representatives from the Diocese of Palo, Diocese of Maasin, Office of Congressman Ching Veloso, and the CleMend Construction Company. The field evaluation covered heritage churches such as the Maasin Cathedral Complex, Amparo Chapel in Macrohon, Malitbog Church, San Juan Church, Matalom Church Complex, Hilongos Church Complex, Punta Chapel and the Baybay Church.
Fr. Mark Vincent Salang, Diocesan Chancellor who heads the Church Heritage Commission and a UST Centralite, was deputized by Most Rev. Precioso Cantillas DD to oversee the safeguarding, conservation and rehabilitation of the heritage churches. The objectives of the mission were to assess the general condition and post-Odette damages on the heritage churches of the Diocese of Maasin from the historical/archival, architectural, structural and museum collections perspectives; to provide church-specific and diocesan-wide recommendations to rehabilitate the church complex and collections, and to formulate climate change resiliency and church cultural heritage protocols (principles and guidelines) that could be integrated in the development of the church’s conservation management plan.
The UST and the Diocese of Maasin have a standing and active Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the area of church heritage conservation and research. The UST GS CCCPET response mission was logistically supported by the Department of Tourism Region 8, under the leadership of Dir. Karen Tiopes, for land transportation; the The Farm Guinciaman for week long accommodation through the generosity of Congressman Ching Veloso of the 3rd District of Leyte and Board Member Anna Veloso-Tuason, and the Office of Mayor Jose Carlos Cari of Baybay Leyte for the last day meals and snacks. The Center organized the Church Heritage Response Team (CHREST) composed of specialists namely Assoc. Prof Eric Babar Zerrudo PhD (Heritage and Development), Prof. Regalado Trota Jose (Church History and Archivistics), Asst. Prof. Michael Manalo (Church Architecture), Prof. Lessandro Garciano of DLSU, PhD (Heritage Engineering), Mr. Joselito Corpus (Architectural Conservation), Archt. Cham Odan (Project Management), Mr. Jefferson Chua (Climate Change) and Ms. Beverly Bautista (Coordination).