Philippine National Treasure is Sto. Domingo Church

By Azer N. Parrocha

The Catholic Santo Domingo Church and the liturgical objects inside it will be declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum on Oct. 4.

This is 10 days ahead of the celebration of the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary, La Naval de Manila.

“The role of the government in helping us maintain the place is very crucial,” Fr. Gaspar Sigaya, provincial archivist of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, told a news conference Monday.

Sigaya did not say how many objects are inside the church.

Under the declaration, the government is “to preserve and protect the cultural properties of the nation and to safeguard their intrinsic value”.

First located in Intramuros in this city and later reconstructed in Quezon City in 1960, the Sto. Domingo Church sustained heavy damage during the second world war in the 1940s.

But it later became the shrine of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila.

This qualified it to be declared as a National Cultural Treasure because of its outstanding value to the history and identity of Filipinos.

The Sto. Domingo Church, 85 meters high and 40 meters wide, has a total floor area of 3,300 square meters.

Factors that contributed to its Oct 4 declaration as National Cultural Treasure include its aesthetic qualities, according to Church sources.

The structure was designed by colonial-style architect Jose Zaragosa, the eight murals painted by National Artist Carlos Francisco, four paintings of the four evangelists by Antonio Garcia Llamas, bas reliefs by Francesco Monti and stained glass designs by Galo Ocampo.

The Oct 4 declaration is the culmination of efforts begun last year.

It was resolved by experts that supported the declaration, who include Archt. Manuel Noche of the University of Santo Tomas, Orlando Abinion of the National Museum and Fr. Milan Ted Torralba of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

This recognition marks Quezon City’s first inclusion among the ranks of National Cultural Treasures, along with structures of other churches and terrestrial landmarks, intangible cultural property and movable objects.

Oct 14, the second Sunday of October this year, is dedicated to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, La Naval de Manila.

Popularly known as La Naval, the image was canonically crowned in Oct 1907 on orders of Pope Pius X, a first in the country and in Asia.

La Naval was acknowledged as the patroness of Quezon City, the country’s former capital, and of the Philippines during her feast in Oct 1973.

The image, enshrined at the Santo Domingo Church along the busy Quezon Blvd., was carved in 1593 by a Chinese artisan who eventually became a convert to Catholicism.

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