BIZ BUZZ: Brouhaha over church treasures | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: Brouhaha over church treasures

/ 02:24 AM February 22, 2024

After sharing to the public last year their private collection of Philippine antiquity through an exhibit at Salcedo Auctions, Union Bank of the Philippines president Edwin Bautista and wife Aileen (professor at De la Salle-St. Benilde and Asia Pacific College) recently donated part of their prized treasures to the National Museum of the Philippines.

The couple turned over to the state-run museum a series of early 19th-century panels featuring the image of Saint Augustine of Hippo. These trace their provenance to the pulpit of the Patrocinio de Maria Santisima Parish Church in Boljoon, Cebu.

But the Archbishop of Cebu now wants these treasures back to the pulpit of Boljoon, saying that they had been removed without permission.


“While we understand the National Museum’s desire to exhibit the same to the general public, we have to assert the sacral nature of these panels. They are integral to the patrimony of the church as part of her missionary work and thus considered sacred …They should never have been treated, then or now, as mere artworks for exhibition in museums, much less for private appreciation by the collectors who purchased them—for these panels are considered in the ecclesial rite as tools of evangelization,” Rev. Jose Palma said in a statement.


While the local community claims they were stolen, “the santero and antikero circles know they [had been] sold by the parish priest to a collector in the 1980s and the panels have actually changed hands many times,” explained Ivan Henares, commissioner at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (for cultural heritage) and secretary general of Unesco National Commission of the Philippines.

Henares said he’s looking forward to having a dialogue with the National Museum “to return the panels to Boljoon as soon as possible.”

“The Boljoon Church is a National Cultural Treasure and National Historical Landmark, and is currently a candidate for inclusion in the World Heritage List as part of the proposed extension for the Baroque Churches of the Philippines,” Henares said.

He stressed that the Church should always come out with such a clear stand when it comes to unauthorized sales of heritage items and renovations.

“We should now begin discussions on what to do with sacred objects in museums and especially those acquired by private collectors, particularly from the unauthorized sale by parish priests,” he said.

Asked whether it’s okay for him to see the panels return to its church, donor Bautista told Biz Buzz, “I leave it to the wise judgment of the National Museum.” —Doris Dumlao-Abadilla


‘Sunnier’ Clark airport

By April 1, all flights of boutique carrier Sunlight Air will be serviced by Clark International Airport.

The move from Ninoy Aquino International Airport will also include additional nonstop routes to Boracay and daily flights to and from Cebu.

“With this shift, Sunlight Air strives to provide even more passengers with our quality services, as well as a better airline experience overall in terms of heightened efficiency and reliability,” Sunlight Air CEO Ryna Brito-Garcia said.

The airline currently provides flights between Manila and Coron, Siargao, Naga and San Vicente.

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This year, the Clark airport is targeting to double passenger volume to four million. —Tyrone Jasper C. Piad

TAGS: Biz Buzz, Clark airport, donation, national museum

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