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Tourism Secretary backs reinstalling Boljoon Church panels

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

MANILA – Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco of the Department of Tourism (DOT) has thrown her weight behind the plea for the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) to repatriate the Boljoon pulpit panels to the Archdiocesan Shrine of Patrocinio de Maria Santissima in Cebu.

According to a press release issued on Monday, Frasco penned a letter to Andoni Aboitiz, Chairperson of the NMP Board of Trustees, expressing her endorsement of the requests made by the Archdiocese of Cebu, the provincial government of Cebu, and the municipality of Boljoon for the return of the religious panels to the Boljoon Church.

Frasco emphasized, “These panels hold profound significance in Cebuano history, embodying a tangible manifestation of the rich cultural heritage and religious customs of the Cebuano people

“Moreover, the Boljoon Church is of outstanding cultural value to the Philippines as a National Cultural Treasure, National Historical Landmark, and is on the Philippines’ Tentative List as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for Baroque Churches of the Philippines (Extension).

Cultural heritage in the approved National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2023-2028 underscores the DOT’s mission to build a tourism industry rooted in Filipino culture, Frasco said.

Religious artifacts and sites enrich the culture and history of tourism destinations by driving travelers to visit. They also support the local economy by providing tourism-related livelihood and employment.

As such, the DOT identified pilgrimage tourism or traveling to tourist destinations to pay homage to religious artifacts and sites that are of significance to their faith.

Earlier, the Boljoon municipality requested the NMP to investigate the circumstances surrounding the pulpit panels which have been reportedly more than four decades ago.

Last month, private collectors donated them to the NMP. (PNA)

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