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Reinventing museum space, preserving heritage

By Edgar Allan M. Sembrano


An offshoot of the cultural mapping project it conducted in 2014 which resulted in widespread awareness of their heritage assets and various cultural development projects including the setting up of a museum, the local government of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, and the local parish dedicated to the said saint have embarked on a partnership to save an important movable religious piece — the 19th century wooden image of the Sacred Heart inside the San Nicolas de Tolentino church.

Described by wood conservation specialist Cheek Fadriquela as “one of the finest extant representations of the Sacred Heart in a tabernacle in the country,” the image attracted the attention of Mayor Alfredo Valdez who asked the Diocese of Laoag if the local government could restore and conserve the deteriorating church piece.

The diocese approved the request and the local government tapped Fadriquela for the conservation works for the piece described by church officials, local government and residents as not just a body of the Sacred Heart but also used as a tabernacle by the religious faithful of the town.

Valdez said, “This project is a clear manifestation that the municipal government, Diocese of Laoag, and the parish can work together and collaborate on different programs.”


Thanking Laoag Bishop Renato Mayugba for his generosity in approving the restoration, Valdez said “this is a milestone — when devotional, tourism and heritage conservation projects or undertakings can be efficiently realized and achieved by the municipal government and the church.”

The restored image was enshrined as a religious piece at the Museo San Nicoleño (Buabobuabo) by Msgr. Leonardo Ruiz and former parish priest Danilo Laeda.

Bishop Renato Mayugba blessed the image during the town fiesta and was very pleased and elated about the restoration works.

Msgr. Ruiz gratefully acknowledged that the “restoration of the Sacred Heart tabernacle is tantamount to the ‘restoration’ of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to boost the vibrant faith of the San Nicoleño.”

“Understanding its spiritual, cultural and historical value and significance has been our guide in the restoration,” municipal tourism officer Richie Cavinta said.


“We became more conscious that the value and protection of heritage resources abound in San Nicolas and we can use and share them for sustainable and meaningful development,” he said, after the cultural mapping project in 2014, done in coordination with the University of Santo Tomas Graduate School Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics, Department of Tourism and Department of Education.

For its heritage-based programs, the town was awarded the Galing Pook award in 2018 for “The Importance of Cultural Heritage Conservation and the Role of the Education Sector: A San Nicolas Experience” and one of awardees for the first Philippine Heritage Award the same year under the Heritage Education and Interpretation category.

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eZine Insider: Reinventing museum space, preserving heritage
Reinventing museum space, preserving heritage
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