Estrada pushes for bill declaring Baclaran Church a heritage site

(MANILA BULLETIN) Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada has filed a bill seeking to have the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and its surroundings declared a heritage site and tourist destination. 

Estrada pushed for the passage of Senate Bill No. 2278, in light of the National Museum’s recent declaration of Baclaran Church, its compound along Roxas Boulevard in Parañaque City, as an “important cultural property” or ICP.

“Wednesdays are acknowledged as ‘Baclaran Day’ by many Filipino Catholic families and visited by thousands of pilgrims, as much as 150,000 devotees from all walks of life, every week,” said Estrada. 

Himself a devotee, Estrada said the site has become deeply embedded in the spiritual life of Filipinos and is an important part of the rich tradition of Catholic Filipinos, particularly for residents of Metro Manila and nearby areas.

“The Redemptorist Church, also known as the National Shrine, is undeniably one of the most popular churches in the Philippines and is considered one of the largest Marian churches in the country, attracting a multitude of devotees as well as tourists,” the lawmaker said.

“This declaration aims to institutionalize a policy that will preserve its historical and sociocultural importance, ensuring the accessibility, convenience, and security of its numerous visitors through the construction, installation, and maintenance of appropriate facilities and infrastructure in the area,” he stressed.

As a declared heritage site and tourist destination, the Department of Tourism (DOT), in coordination with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the local government of Parañaque, and other relevant agencies, will be tasked to develop a tourism development plan for the site. 

The tourism development plan will include the construction, installation, and maintenance of suitable facilities and infrastructure to enhance the overall features of the surroundings of the Church, and at the same time also ensure accessibility and the security of tourists.

The funding for the implementation of the tourism development plan will be included in the budget of the local government of Parañaque. 

The DOT will also be mandated to provide technical assistance in tourism capacity building and include Baclaran Church in its national and regional promotion programs.

The 65-year old shrine, which was designed in modern Romanesque architecture by Cesar Concio and Jesse Bontoc, also stands to receive government subsidies for its preservation and conservation since it has also been declared as an ICP by the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP).