Tremors severely damage heritage, cultural sites in Ilocos

The magnitude 7 earthquake that shook Northern Luzon last Wednesday and the strong after shocks that followed it have severely damaged historic, heritage and cultural sites in the Ilocos, Cordillera and Cagayan Valley regions.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary  Christina Frasco  said she has directed their regional offices in Northern Luzon and the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to assess the damage and extend possible assistance to tourism establishments and affected stakeholders.

Initial reports indicate that at least two churches that had been declared “National Cultural Treasure” by the National Museum of the Philippines were affected by the tremor while several heritage and ancestral houses sustained notable damage.

“We will request TIEZA to prioritize assessment of the cultural treasures affected by the recent earthquake recognizing the need to protect and sustain our heritage and cultural treasures for the benefit and welfare of our future generations,” Frasco said.

In Abra, the DOT said heavily damage were the Sta. Catalina de Alexandria Church, a 19th-century baroque church declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2001, and the San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine (heavily damaged), one of the oldest churches in the province.

In Baguio City, DOT said minor cracks were noted in the Crown Legacy buildings and the Lafayette Luxury Suites Hotel.

Serious damages were likewise noted in several churches and heritage assets in Ilocos Sur including the iconicVigan Cathedral, the Syquia heritage House turned into a museum in Vigan, Hotel nLinda, heritage and ancestral houses along the Vigan Heritage Village, Bantay Bell Tower in Bantay town, and the St. John The Baptist Church in San Juan town.

In addition, multiple ground damages were noted in the Santa Ana Beach Area, a favorite tourist spot among visitors, and two TIEZA properties.

DOT said the riprap and ceiling of the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel in Ifugao partially caved in while Mt. Data Hotel’s ceiling in the fireplace and lobby area collapsed, prompting TIEZA to cancel all bookings in both hotels until a thorough assessment has been undertaken.

Frasco said empathizes with all those affected by the recent earthquake in Northern Luzon, and her agency will extend whatever help it can to tourism stakeholders and establishments that have been directly affected by this tremor.

“I have requested the DOT Regional offices in Northern Luzon to continue with the assessment of the extent of the damage and to immediately submit the report for our appropriate actions and assistance,” Frasco said.

“Our resilience as a nation has already been tried and tested in the past. I am certain this can be strengthened by the essential collaboration between our national agencies, local governments, and crucial stakeholders as we conquer our challenges,” she added.