THE SCULPTURE’S restoration was divided into six stages: ocular inspection, dismantling, chemical and physical stabilization, application of protective covering and installation. The first and most important stage required keen observation and intense research as it determined what steps would follow.

The sculpture’s medium molave wood, which lasts for hundreds of years due to its resin deposits, Rabara said. The team concluded that the bas relief underwent “warping” decades ago because of restoration during the 1970s.

To stop the paint from deteriorating, and the wood from cracking and absorbing water and moist, the restorers used various chemicals.

The bas relief also underwent fumigation, or the process of eliminating fungi and other living organisms that may weaken the wood’s quality. The team used liquid and crystal chemicals and wrapped it in a plastic bubble for weeks, and even months, to allow the formula to circulate and take full effect on the wood. The bas relief also underwent water-based anti-termite treatment.

The team also conducted tests to know which parts needed repainting. It was subjected to chemicals, light scraping and pressured air to determine if the paint would fade or crack. The group used traditional oil paint and the recently introduced water-based oil paint with high levels of plasticity to ensure lasting gleam and color quality.

The restorers also applied protective coating against dust and ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun. Before the re-installation, the group, following the original set-up of the bas relief, inserted a barrel at the carved slot at the back of each molave board to hold them in place at least an inch apart from the wall, instead of nailing them in a separate piece of wood, which the earlier restorers did. This prevented the moisture from sinking through the adobe bricks.

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Finally, the Apocalypse was placed in the altar not only because people venerate it but because it is the “safest” place from vandalism, humidity and heat. This will give the bas relief a better chance of enduring the elements in decades to come. Jose Teodoro B. Mendoza with reports from Kathleen T. Valle

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