Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture: The conservation of the La Loma Chapel officially launched by the Diocese of Kalookan and Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Recognizing the La Loma Chapel’s need for conservation considering its current state, the Diocese of Kalookan partners with Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation Inc., to save the old chapel from further deterioration. The plan for this restoration project dates back to 2017 when Bishop Pablo Virgilio David approached Escuela Taller for assistance in removing the heavy plant growth on the walls of the old cemetery chapel.

The project will begin with the restoration of the facade. After the documentation and the survey of the chapel to assess its conditions, the process will proceed to remove the plants by introducing appropriate herbicides and possibly disassembly of some parts of the masonry wall to completely remove the plant, including the roots system.

According to Arch. Jeffrey Cobilla, head of Escuela Taller’s conservation team, they expect to complete the work on the facade within 8 months but they expect several years to conserve the entire chapel and its site and Escuela Taller recommends having a preventive maintenance program after the project for the continuous care of the heritage site.


Fortunately, adobe (volcanic tuff) and apog (lime) are still commercially available while graduates of Escuela Taller, who will be the primary workforce of the project, are familiar with the building type, materials, and methodology in treating historic structures through their training and experience in similar projects.

The Old La Loma Cemetery Chapel is declared as a National Cultural Treasure, the highest designation given to a valuable cultural asset. As such, it has “unique cultural property found locally possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is highly significant and important to the country and nation. La Loma Cemetery, formerly known as Binondo Cemetery, is one of the oldest extramural cemeteries (i.e., outside Intramuros) primarily due to public health concerns in the 18th century. The La Loma Cemetery is considered to be the oldest active cemetery in Manila.

Fr. Paul Woo, Director of the Diocesan Commission on Cultural Heritage said the diocese and the community said they wanted the La Loma Chapel to become a center for worship again, not only during All Saints/Souls Day. And of course, we want to return the old chapel to its glory. The plan is to make it more accessible and functional as a place of worship again and to provide any liturgical services available.

Apart from the physical conservation, the Diocese of Kalookan has also been working with Escuela Taller to draft a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) to inform and guide the Diocese and the community on how to manage and care for the chapel regularly and sustainably.

“It is important to educate the community about heritage and heritage sites. The value that comes from every artifact is a gentle reminder for all of us to appreciate the richness of history, culture, and heritage that come from within. It is also an opportune time to educate everyone else in the Diocese and perhaps even other natives or residents who belong to other faith traditions to give importance to structures, find meaning in it, and develop a sense of appreciation as each artifact turn back time for all of us such that we can also pass it on to the next generation” Fr. Woo said.

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