Antique town's stone church eyed as historical landmark

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A stone church in the middle of the cemetery in the municipality of Hamtic in Antique province is being proposed to be declared as a historical landmark.

Antique Provincial Board Member Errol T. Santillan, chairman of the committee on history and cultural heritage, said during an interview that his sponsored ordinance for the old stone church was already approved on second reading during their May 6 regular session.

“The old stone church was erected in Baroque style with coral stones, adobe, and bricks which were then common constructing resources used to build religious edifices during the Spanish era,” he said.

The old church, known as Hamtic Cemetery Church due to its location, was erected with extensive walls of about three meters with the façade having three levels.

“The first level is surrounded with niches centered with steel gate as the entrance to the church, the second level has bas reliefs in the form of columns while the nave has rectangular windows with three at each side, and the third level has two slightly curved belfries,” he said.

He added that there is a cross at the center of the pediment while a statue of the risen Christ is positioned between the second and third levels.

“Intricate carving details on the façade express authenticity of Baroque style during the Spanish era,” Santillan said.

While he could not determine when the stone church was constructed, he said it is considered one of the oldest churches in the country.

“I think it is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines considering that from Cebu, the Spaniards transferred to Panay in 1565,” he said.

He added that since the other church in Barangay Maybato in San Jose de Buenavista was built in 1733, so the stone church might have been built between 1565 and 1733.

“The stone church is less than a kilometer from the parish church and just meters away from the national road,” he said.

With the declaration of the stone church as a historical landmark and as an important cultural property in the province, it could foster civic pride.

“It could also promote our tourism prosperity by encouraging the most appropriate use of historic properties,” he said.

The declaration is also a requisite for the national government, particularly the National Historical Institute and National Commission for Culture and Arts, to provide funding for the protection, conservation, and restoration of the church stone, Santillan added.PNA




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