- Posted October 19, 2013 by
Cebu City, Philippines
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Earthquake hits Heritage church in Cebu
Workers are lifted by crane to the damaged belfry of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, one of the heritage sites in Cebu City, central Philippines, which was hit by a powerful 7.2 intensity quake last October 15, 2013.
According to news sources, this was the third earthquake to hit the Visayas Region in the last 20 months, with the epicenter in the town of Carmen in the neighboring province of Bohol. Cebu was also hit by an earthquake of lesser magnitude last February 12, 2012.
The Basilica, which dates back to the 1700s, is one of the Philippines' oldest churches. It is the center of intense devotion and religious pilgrimages throughout the Visayas in the central part of the Philippines.
There was a mass celebration inside the church when the tremor shook last Tuesday but nobody got hurt. Church-goers and candle vendors rushed outside when the building trembled. The vendors said they thought it was going to be the end of the world when they saw the church buildings shaking sideways. There were no crowds in the Basilica del Santo Niño that fateful Tuesday morning. Huge crowds usually throng the Basilica on Fridays.
On the evening of October 15, a mass was offered in the Pilgrim Center in front of the Basilica del Santo Niño, a reminder for the people to hold on to their faith in times of uncertainty.
According to Basilica Rector Fr. Jonas Mejares, there will be no masses inside the church until structural engineers inspect it and declare it safe and secure.
The image of the Señor Santo Niño (Holy Child Jesus) which is the oldest and most celebrated Christian relic in the country and the chief symbol of the coming of Christianity to the islands, is enshrined at the Basilica del Santo Niño.
As of today, October 21, classes in private and public schools in Cebu, Talisay Cities and other cities in the entire province of Cebu are suspended until November 4, in view of the aftershocks Cebu is experiencing until today.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has called on all government engineers to undertake structural assessment of government buildings and hospitals. He had also ordered the Department of Engineering and Public Works and the Local School Board to conduct ocular inspections of public schools for damages. Private schools, universities and colleges are also urged to check the structural integrity of their facilities befor resuming classes.
Some building owners and engineers in the city are undertaking structural assessment and retrofitting their buildings for safety.
*The Filipino bayanihan spirit (solidarity or unity) is evident among Cebuano people, who, despite being affected by the recent quake, are still able to find ways to help raise over a million pesos for the quake victims and survivors in Bohol and distribute relief goods and conduct medical missions in Bohol's hard-to-reach villages, which sustained severe damage to lives and property.
*Gawad Kalinga Cebu Operation, ABS-CBN's Kapamilya Relief Campaign and the GMA 7 Kapuso Foundation's Operation Tabang Bohol have set up drop off centers around the city to collect cash donations, relief goods, rice, canned food, soap and bottled water, etc., for fellow victims in Bohol province.
*The quake happened on a national holiday (Eid'l Adha or The Feast of Sacrifice for Muslim Filipinos) which spared the lives of many schoolchildren and workers.
Photos of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño taken last Saturday, October 19. Barangay Señor Santo Niño, Osmeña Boulevard, Cebu City, Philippines.