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San Nicolás de Tolentino Church in Ilocos Norte needs our help

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I just learned from Arnaldo that Henry Sy’s money-making monster, the SM Group of Companies, is set to build a mall right beside (‘gasp!’) a heritage site. And that heritage site is no ordinary site, dear readers — I am referring to the 310-year-old San Nicolás de Tolentino Church in San Nicolás, Ilocos Norte!


We, the undersigned Catholics of the Parish of San Nicolás de Tolentino and other concerned Catholics respectfully bring to Your Excellency our serious concern about the seemingly imminent lease or probably sale of a southern portion of the lot on which the Catholic Church stands. We only came to know this from some concerned Catholics of the town. Although we do not have a direct knowledge about this rumor, we are convinced it is true.

Visualizing what may happen next, this is the scenario we believe will transpire: that the southeastern portion of the Catholic lot immediately adjacent to the Catholic Church will be leased or maybe sold to SM, a giant commercial corporation that operates malls in different parts of the Philippines. How big the land to be leased is only a matter of our imagination but it could be the site of the convent and probably to include the eastern side of the original building of Santa Rosa Academy.

The size of the land rented or leased whether small or big is not important to us. What concerns us is the desecration of a sacred ground and the invasion of the privacy of our Catholic Church and Santa Rosa Academy considering the fact that the commercial building will be built just beside the Catholic Church on its southern side and adjacent to the old building of Santa Rosa Academy on its eastern side.

Please click here (Ms. Guía Imperial’s blog) to read the manifesto in full.

Iglesia de San Nicolás de Tolentino, San Nicolás, Ilocos Norte.

And whether you are a Christian/Catholic or not, you may want to show your support if you are a heritage advocate. This is all about respecting history and preserving our national treasures. Our heritage structures help us define our national identity. We must not allow these to be defaced nor defamed in the name of profit. So please add your name in the said manifesto by leaving it as a comment in Ms. Imperial’s site. Thank you. Dios ti agngina ken sapay koma ta denggen ti Apo daytoy a dawat tayo. (God bless, and may He hear our prayer.)


2 responses »

  1. filipineses09

    Napnuanak ti yaman ti daytoy tulongmo, Pepe. My overwhelming thanks for ‘picking up’ this looming news of yet another ruinous future of a revered heritage. It does tear my heart to pieces when I imagine what the Philippines will turn into bared of its heritage.

    And yet, as I now realize living in a foreign country even becoming its new citizen soon, all that I can identify myself with is my Filipino heritage. Does it sound a bit out-of-tune? A soon-to-be-Canadian holding up her Filipino-ness? It’s turning out that it’s what Canadians recognize or want to know about–who is a Filipino? Am I glad I know who and what is a Filipino.

    And it has been my platform in community and city events and in organizations I’ve joined. Recently too, I spoke loudly about the landscape of a city or country being its structures solidly having in mind though mucked up by crazy decisions to modernize, our heritage sites and how in some though isolated cases, remain the heart of our landscape–the towers and tips of old churches for instance and the old houses like the ones you’ve shot and featured here of Lucban.

    One problem with churches and their care that perhaps we don’t see is the awareness of their ‘caretakers’ about heritage. We take it for granted perhaps that being a padre also means being knowlegeable hence, a lover of history and heritage. Were this true…If profit is the be-all of businesses (of course!), I suppose income for expenses to maintain a church is part of a parish priest’s responsibility. Yet, as in the case of San Nicolas, as pointed out in the manifesto, this doesn’t seem to be a problem. Still, I fear as I know you do that progress in the guise of density, which a mall will certainly provide and extra or bigger income might just outweigh our cry for heritage.

    But that will not soften our voices would it? True, in the end, only one thing remains–what lifts us up Filipinos from (you can’t imagine how) the muck we’ve managed to show the world, is our heritage that cuts across cultures and centuries. And how…

    Ooopps! I’ve overdone this comment meant to thank you. I apologize. And thank you again!


  2. The Filipino mall is still Filipino since it just combined the American mall, Spanish Plaza and the Sari-Sari Store. Imagine strolling in a place where there is A/C and you get everything. European and American malls are specialized, while we are generalized.

    The way Filipinos worshipped, as the late Nick Joaquin noted, is the fusion of the Native and the foreign way of worshipping. This also happened to Christianity, as noted by the Da Vinci Code.

    In this case, it’s a conflict between the new and old Filipino culture. The Old Filipino culture is festive and funloving but religious. The New Filipino has both secularity and wish for competitiveness in the surrounding world, but still has the shadows of the Old Filipino.

    However, in this case, we still need to give due respect to religion. SM must set up the mall elsewhere, not in that plot of land, since it might desecrate the religious, soul-cleansing and calm-inducing purpose of the church.



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