THE SANTO Domingo Church was declared a National Cultural Treasure last Oct. 4, coinciding with the enthronement of the image of Our Lady of La Naval that marked the start of the annual feast of the rosary.

Fr. Gaspar Sigaya, O.P., archivist of the Philippine Dominican Province, said the church is the first National Cultural Treasure in Quezon City and the 72nd to be declared as such.

“Isa [ang National Cultural Treasure] sa mga pinakamahalagang lugar, in the national scope, in terms of uniqueness and structures of church. A certain institution signifies Filipino identity,” Sigaya said in a press conference at the Philippine Dominican Center for Institutional Studies-Institute of Preaching last Oct. 1.

The unveiling of the official marker at the church, housing the centuries-old image of Nuestra Señora de la Naval, will be on Dec. 8.

Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III O.P., prior provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines and vice chancellor of UST, said in the press conference that the Church and its liturgical objects were qualified to be declared a National Cultural Treasure because of historical value and contribution to Filipino identity.

The Church also serves as a foundation of the Filipino Catholic culture and serves as an “heirloom of the Filipino people,” Timoner added.

“It means, therefore, that this treasure is not just a treasure of the Catholic faithful, but of the entire nation,” he noted. “As said in the Bible, where your treasure is, there your heart is. So being a national cultural treasure, the Santo Domingo Church is where the heart of the nation belongs.”

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The 2012 La Naval Festivities was themed “Maria: Ina ng Pananampalataya,” in accordance with the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI.

Santo Domingo Church as a National Cultural Treasure

In 2011, the Dominicans endorsed the designation of Santo Domingo Church as a national treasure to the National Museum.

Some of the benefits the church may receive after being declared as one of the country’s national cultural treasures are government funding for protection, maintenance and restoration of the whole compound of the Santo Domingo Church, and government prioritization during war and disaster.

Among the panel of experts who supported the declaration of the church as a national treasure were Architect Manuel Noche of UST, Engineer Orlando Abinion of the National Museum, and Fr. Milan Ted Torralba of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Permanent Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Church.

Many artifacts and relics of various saints from the old Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros, Manila were preserved in Museo de Santo Domingo. National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco’s eight murals can be found at the dome of the church.

The newest project of Santo Domingo Church is the Sanctuario de Santo Domingo, a cemetery with 4,745 niches that can hold four funeral urns each.

The old, gothic Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros was bombed in 1941 during World War II.

The original image of La Naval, which was safely hidden in the old church’s vault, was later transferred to the Santisimo Rosario Parish.

In 1952, construction of the new Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City began. In 1954, the image of La Naval was transferred in a solemn procession to the new shrine from UST.

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In December 1971, the autonomous Philippine Dominican province was created, and the church was placed under the jurisdiction of the Filipino Dominican priests. Gracelyn A. Simon with reports from Denise Pauline P. Purugganan

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