Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Petition to save the historic Simbahan ng Balayan church school and convent in Lipa, Batangas

Immaculate Conception Parish Church (Simbahan ng Balayan, Lipa, Batangas
Immaculate Conception Parish Church (Simbahan ng Balayan, Lipa, Batangas
There is a petition circulated by the Lopez of Balayan of Batangas Foundation addressed to Archbishop Ramon Arguelles in Change.org:
Archdiocese of Lipa: Don't betray history. Save centuries-old Balayan Church school and convent from destruction
The Simbahan ng Balayan (Immaculate Conception Parish Church) has stood for more than 400 years, recognized as one of the Philippines’ most beautiful churches and historical shrines. But now the Catholic Archdiocese of Lipa is on the verge of despoiling this National Historical Landmark and Natural Cultural Treasure.
The Archdiocese has started talks to have the adjoining 18-century structure rented out to a national grocery chain. This will mean the destruction of the the Convent, which houses the nuns, and the elementary school building of the Immaculate Conception College. History wiped out in one sweep -- the convent/school used to be the site of the Casa Real (House of Tribunal) until 1752.
Please help us, residents of Balayan, save this national treasure. Please help us stop an illegal and immoral move by the Archdiocese of Lipa. The Church of Balayan bears a historical marker installed by the then National Historical Institute (now, National Historical Commission of the Philippines - NHCP). This means that the Church itself officially recognizes the historical value of its property. 
The petition cited two historical reasons for preserving the structures:

  1. The school/convent structure was constructed in 1744 and served as the Casa Real till 1752. During the Spanish Colonial period, Casa Real was known to be the Royal House (House of Tribunal) or their version of a “Municipal Hall.” After 1752, it became the Convent of the Balayan Church and became the Immaculate Concepcion College in 1935 to the present, 4 August 2013. 
  2. The Churchgrounds directly beside the Church where the Convent stands was the old “Kuta” which was built in 1744, to protect the town of Balayan against pirate raids. In 1751, the Casa Real was built inside this Fort; this structure later on became the Convent of the Immaculate Concepcion College. 


The Church of Balayan (Simbahan ng Balayan) is one of the historical churches listed by the National Historical Commission  in 1986 in its National Registry of Historic Sites and Structures in the Philippines (I am glad that the National Historical Commission is also a Blogger platform user like Monk's Hobbit!  If NHC decides to change its domain name later, Blogger allows painless transition without costing a cent.  And there is always Javascript to handle many things if one knows how to use it.)  The marker in Simbahan ng Balayan (this is the old name of Batangas) reads in English (originally in Filipino):
Simbahan ng Balayan marker by the National Historical Commission
Simbahan ng Balayan marker by the National Historical Commission
Church of Balayan 
First built out of weak materials by the Franciscan priests under the supervision of Fr. Francisco de Santa Maria last 1579.  Fr. Juan de Oliver transferred the spiritual jurisdiction to the Jesuits under the supervision of Fr. Pedro Chirino. 1591.  Built out of stone last 1748. Spiritual jurisdiction was again transferred to the parish under the Spanish secular priests. 1753. Then to the Recollects. 1876. Transferred to the Filipino secular priests under the Archdiocese of Manila. 1908. Transferred to the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Lipa and the priest is Fr. Benigno Gamez.
According to the petition, beside the convent beside the church will be rented to a national grocery chain, probably SM Savemore.  Below is the Photoshopped image of the possible setup.  If you are against this, please sign the petition in change.org. You may also follow the following Facebook page:

The Lopez Family History Balayan, Batangas, Philippines

I think the Archdiocese of Lipa is having money problems.  In case the sale will not push through, I guess we also have to think of creative ways to support the church.  The Church also needs to give salary to its priests, maintain the convent (if there are nuns left--for the number of nuns are dwindling worldwide, except for those who maintain their habits and remain loyal to the teachings of the Catholic Church especially regarding women's ordination), maintain the church (water, electricity, candles, vestments, etc), feed its retired priests, maintain parochial schools and hospitals, etc.  Remember the 6 Commandments of the Church:

  1. To keep the Sundays and Holy Days of obligation holy, by hearing Mass and resting from servile work;
  2. To keep the days of fasting and abstinence appointed by the Church;
  3. To go to confession at least once a year;
  4. To receive the Blessed Sacrament at least once a year and that at Easter or thereabouts;
  5. To contribute to the support of our pastors;
  6. Not to marry within a certain degree of kindred nor to solemnize marriage at the forbidden times.

And the 5th commandment says: Contribute to the support of our pastors.

Simbahan ng Balayan with Save More
What the area beside the Simbahan ng Balayan may look like once the convent is rented out to a national grocery chain.



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