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Monday, April 4, 2016

Saving the Heavy Holy Steel of San Sebastian

We had a different kind of tour last week, its one of the rare exclusive free Art 
Deco tours in FEU conducted by Rence Chan of WALK with CHAN, because I 
know that  this tour will be different and that we would be granted another exclusive 
access to spots where no ordinary visitor can have the permit to go. I mean these
heritage tours are unique that I haven't experience this during my time as a student
and I do encourage DECS to include heritage tours as part of its special project 
activity for its students. kids these days only knew how to take selfies at a fancy
coffee shop in some fancy mall and thats sad...

the tour started early, 8am, and while the tour is in progress, halfway, we
witness a campus fire in UE Recto campus. and along the way we saw
century old houses still standing along San Sebastian St.

we then proceeded to San Sebastian Church for the exclusive tour...

Because of the popularity of Calle Crisologo in Vigan and the old walled city
of  Intramuros now, The gothic 1891 by  by architect Genaro Palacios
the first all steel Basílica Menor de San Sebastián in Quiapo, with its still
intact century old neighboring community is now aiming to attract more people
to its neighboring community, by restoring the church to its near-original
state including it in guided walking tours, together with nearby historical
sites in the process.

the tour is more focused on its interior, the paintings on steel canvas,
the stained glass windows, the pictures of corroded columns, holes of different
sizes, water seepage, and deteriorating artworks.

It is believed that San Sebastian Basilica has withstood the test of time, or
so we thought........

Now its time to renovate..

The renovation is headed by conservator Tina Paterno, who leads a team
of engineers, scientists, and architects to assess the church.

you see, we were told by the beautiful tour guide that Corrosion due to
uhmm 300++ water leaks is eating up the the only all-steel church here.
(one of the few left inm the world) the gothic structure is suffering from
heavy corrosion as a result of extensive, severe water infiltration.

As the only all-steel building in the Philippines, and one of just a handful
of all-steel churches in the world, the San Sebastian Basilica in Manila,
is an engineering marvel the structure was mainly built to respond to the
seismic reality of Philippine archipelago, not to the climactic condition of
frequent typhoons and heavy monsoon rains like what we experience from
May to November.

They tied a camera to a rope and slowly dropped it inside each hollow column.
They found water at the bottom of some of the columns, thus corroding the insides
and weakening them.  also found are missing rivets, broken stained glass windows,
and slowly deteriorating murals.

The study notes that the water comes from the open exterior joints that
had been sealed up with putty (masilya), in the 80s when cement were
introduced, it was used in a wrong way, a major construction flaw as cement

and metal do not match, and it only caused more damage, as More water
entered, for sure , over time, more corrosion happens.

So after years of rainfall, the century old structure slowly suffers deterioration
and rust cameras dropped into the columns showed water sitting at the botton,
90 percent of surveyed columns were leaking, 40 percent had water in the base,
five columns had massive holes in the base.but because of the wonders of 1890s
technology, with 132 columns, only 3% of the total columns have weaknesses.
others  are in good condition

the cost to check the corrosion, restore the structure, and conserve its liturgical
art and other details like the repair of stained glass windows, may reach an
estimated of more than a hundred million. and we all know that it CANNOT BE DONE.
yes!!, so sad to observe this, but, in my opinion, it just CANNOT BE RESTORED
to its original watertight state. the restoration process should be treated differently,
it is not a building its more like a ship. where there should be proper ventilation
and good drainage.

at the end of the tour we were granted exclusive access to the bell tower.
and quite a unique experience going up, specially going down! its ok!
we had a pretty photographer from U.P. accompanying us to our ascent.
forgot to get her name and fb though haha

I hope people reading this would love Heritage more than we do.
we only love heritage, but we don't have the money to practice what we preach.
Heritage conservation needs more than the heart, and love for preserving heritage
it needed support from agencies, government, people with political will, not just for
media coverage, we needed funds for this.

till here, this is your LOVERBOY Dennis Signing out.

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