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408-Year-Old Malabon Church Declared Important Cultural Treasure

408-Year-Old Malabon Church Declared Important Cultural Treasure
The façade of the San Bartolome church in Malabon. Photo courtesy of San Bartolome Parish/Diocese of Kalookan via CBCP News

The 408-year-old San Bartolome church in Malabon City was hailed as an “Important Cultural Heritage” by the National Museum of the Philippines in a ceremony Thursday, Aug. 11.

According to the 2015 historical marker of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the church became a parish in Malabon, formerly known as Tambobong, and was dedicated to St. Bartholomew the Apostle in 1614.

It was destroyed by fire in 1898 and by bombings during World War II, but was restored to its current state in the 1950s, the NHCP said.

The present church is adorned with paintings featuring Catholic saints and biblical scenes in its interior, while eight huge Ionic columns stand at the façade.

In her statement, Malabon City Mayor Jeannie Sandoval said the declaration of San Bartolome church as an Important Cultural Treasure means it “would be preserved and protected by the government under Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act.”

She also said the city government would help in protecting the church, which has helped shape the Catholic faith of Malabon City residents and has witnessed the struggles and victories throughout history.

The recognition was given two weeks before the church celebrates its feast day on Aug. 24, she added.

Among those who joined Sandoval in the unveiling of the Important Cultural Treasure marker were Ma. Rosenne Flores-Avila of the National Museum of the Philippines, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Diocese of Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and San Bartolome parish priest Philippe Angelo Garcia.

In his message, David encouraged parishioners to take seriously the partnership with government agencies for the preservation of church heritage structures, which he said also “gives soul to our faith.”

“Without heritage, the church will be soulless,” he was quoted as saying in a report on the CBCP News website. “Even the whole city of Malabon, what gives it character really is the heritage structures like this church.”

David also announced the plan of the Kalookan diocese, which oversees the parish, to petition the Vatican to designate San Bartolome church as a minor basilica.