Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu Compound, Cebu City
3 March 2016

President Benigno S. Aquino III witnessed the turnover of certificates for the restored heritage sites in Cebu by National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chair Maria Serena Diokno to Rev. Fr. Jonas Mejares, O.S.A, Rector of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu.

Upon his arrival, President Aquino was ushered to the famous Magellan’s Cross where blessing rites were held. He then proceeded to a walking briefing along the restored Fort San Pedro en route to the program venue inside the basilica’s compound.

The cross and the basilica were among the historical landmarks severely damaged by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Bohol and Cebu on 2013.

In his speech, President Aquino emphasized that according to Philippine law, it is the government’s duty to conserve and protect heritage zones through the NHCP. In partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), National Museum, and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone (TIEZA), the Heritage Restoration Program was implemented for a more organized and effective restoration of heritage sites both in Bohol and Cebu.

“Di naman natin puwedeng isantabi ang kasaysayan at ‘di rin natin puwedeng hayaang mawala ang oportunidad na dala ng turismo para sa Cebu,” he said.

For the basilica, P5 million was allotted by the TIEZA for pre-restoration works. On its actual restoration, P14 million was provided by the national government through NHCP’s 2015 budget for its heritage recovery program. As for Magellan’s Cross, its pavilion was likewise funded P1.3 million for restoration, including the injection of lime in the rubble core to make its walls more sturdy.

Fort San Pedro, which was built during Miguel López de Legazpi’s settlement in the Philippines, was restored earlier in 2015 with a P22 million budget. Mactan Shrine, the fourth heritage site project being completed in Cebu, was given P4.8 million for its restoration.

“Ang hangad natin dito: masigurong matatamasa ng susunod na salinlahi itong mga gusaling bahagi ng ating makulay na kasaysayan,” the President added.

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