Elegy for a damaged treasure (The bell tower falls)

Last Tuesday's 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Cebu, Bohol, and neighboring provinces of Central Philippines and some parts of Northern Mindanao, left us with many collapsed churches, houses, bridges, roads, and school and office buildings. Some precious lives as well have been lost.

Philippines’s oldest church--the Basilica of the Holy Child Jesus--has lost its bell tower. We hope the experts could bring it back to its original form and make it stronger than it has been. We mourned for this unfortunate event that brought destruction upon our most kept treasures.

These collapsed, or partially damaged old churches were considered national treasures of the Philippines. They played a very significant role in our nation's history so that they have become an inseparable part in the weaving of our unique heritage as a people. It will be very hard for the experts to repair some of them.

And now, watching some of them totally flattened to the ground, we could only recall the part of those memories by which the physical structure we have come to see or contact with before they were destroyed may have caused us to feel why it is important to preserve and treasure them.

The destruction of these old churches by the force of nature might be a sign and not a punishment; a sign by which we have to deepen our faith in God even more, and to build stronger churches to house God’s people. I’d like to share to you a poem of my original composition titled “Elegy for a damaged treasure (The bell tower falls)” upon seeing the Basilica del Sto. Nino de Cebu sans a belfry:

It’s gone: The vintage symbol in a span of seconds fell to the ground.
Let someone else worry about it. It saddened me. The pilgrims are nowhere to be found.

If I can do something about it, from out of such a cluttered debris, I'll care
Picking a piece of pebble and throw it in the air

Or to return from a walk the imagery would’ve given me some thoughts.
The fragments I would have looked at I’d become one pure astute

Observer of the whole mess: Sadly, within His household.
I’ll have this thing to the whole world be told.


  1. There's always devastation when earthquakes hit, and it's always so sad when people lose their lives, homes and livelihoods. Despite the buildings collapsing, you still have a history to tell, although it may not be seen as it was. Situations like this can sometimes bring distant communities together to help and support one another in the unknown future. My prayers are with you all.

    1. Thank you for your comforting words, mate. God has a reason why this all happened. We're missing the bells at the Basilica. We, my wife and one-year old son, used to go there every Sunday to hear mass and we will continue going there even without the belfry now. But what I was so thankful about, or should I consider it a miracle, was that no one got hurt when the belfry crumbled.


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