Priest defies orders and destroys 18th century church ruin with construction

A priest in Philippines’ Iloilo province is relieved of his duties when he authorised construction on the ruins of an archaeologically significant ruin of an 18th century church, against the orders of the local bishop and the National Museum of the Philippines.

18th century church in Aranguel. Source: Philippine Inquirer 20160222
18th century church in Aranguel. Source: Philippine Inquirer 20160222

Capiz priest defies bishop, National Museum; builds concrete chapel on archaeological site
Inquirer, 22 February 2016

Parish priest in Iloilo relieved for allowing ‘unauthorized’ digging at Catholic cemetery
Inquirer, 28 February 2016

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Even without proper permits, the parish priest of President Roxas town in Capiz province has continued to build a chapel inside the ruins of an 18th-century church in Barangay Aranguel, a former town founded by the Augustinians in 1704.

The chapel construction started in 2014 and is the project of the parish priest, Monsignor Alden Boliver. It has been ordered stopped by the National Museum and the Archdiocese of Capiz.

Human bones were recovered after the foundation was dug in 2014, prompting local officials to call the National Museum for an archaeological investigation in the area.

National Museum assistant director and osteologist Angel Bautista and his team recovered trade ware and ceramic shards dating back to the Sung and Ming dynasties.

“These archaeological materials are significant because these will provide insights into the earlier period of human occupation in the area. Furthermore, the walls of the old church are still intact and should be protected for posterity,” said a National Museum report published on its website in 2014.

Full stories here and here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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