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“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms, by truth when it is attacked by lies, by faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, in the final act, by determination and faith.”

― Archibald MacLeish

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pope Francis: Have you heard about Archbishop Arguelles of Lipa?

Archdiocese of Lipa: Don't betray history. Save centuries-old Balayan Church school and convent from destruction

To:
MOST REV. RAMON C. ARGUELLES, D.D., Archdiocese of Lipa
MOST REVEREND RAMON C. ARGUELLES, D.D.
Archbishop of Lipa Archdiocese
Lipa City, Batangas

Your Excellency,

RE: THE HOLY GROUND OF THE CENTURY OLD CHURCH OFBALAYAN, BATANGAS

Warm greetings to our Protector of the Faith and the Church!

The concerned citizens of Balayan have received reports that the Immaculate Concepcion Parish Church of Balayan is entertaining moves to further commercialize the church grounds. More specifically, being considered to be used as a grocery, are the Convent, which houses the nuns, and the elementary school building of the Immaculate Concepcion College.

Upon further investigation, we understand that the Archdiocese of Lipa wishes to utilize all properties of the church for its commercial value in order to generate income. We gathered as well that in the latter part of July 2013, an ocular inspection of the Balayan church grounds was initiated by the Archdiocese of Lipa along with an Evaluation Meeting with a select group of parishioners to evaluate reactions to the revenue generating proposal of the Church. Proposals were offered to occupy the convent and the elementary building calling for the nuns to be relocated to another area within the grounds. Based on feedback we received from the said group, a significant number of participants opposed the said plan.

Moreover, we sought an audience with Balayan's Parish Priest, Fr. Edgardo Pagcaliuangan last August 4, 2013, to validate these facts and received confirmation that there are present negotiations to lease the Convent, to a grocery chain.

For your reference, we would like to volunteer these facts in order for your office to re-consider such a move :

1. The school/convent structure was constructed in 1744 and served as the Casa Real till 1752. During the Spanish Colonial period, Casa Real was known to be the Royal House (House of Tribunal) or their version of a “Municipal Hall.” After 1752, it became the Convent of the Balayan Church and became the Immaculate Concepcion College in 1935 to the present, 4 August 2013.

2. The Churchgrounds directly beside the Church where the Convent stands was the old “Kuta” which was built in 1744, to protect the town of Balayan against pirate raids. In 1751, the Casa Real was built inside this Fort; this structure later on became the Convent of the Immaculate Concepcion College.

3. The Church of Balayan bears a historical marker installed by the then National Historical Institute (now, National Historical Commission of the Philippines - NHCP) on 8th December 1986 with the full concurrence of the Church. This means that the Church itself officially recognizes the historical value of the Church, and logically, must do its best to preserve it by not introducing elements that are inconsistent with or will violate the historical integrity of the marked structure. It is best that the Church as well as the Archdiocese of Lipa submit to the NHCP any development plan prior to introducing any changes or new structures. (NHCP)

4. May we remind the Balayan Church officials that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has a committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Church chaired by Bishop Julito B. Cortes. The CBCP recognizes the historical and cultural worth of its structures all over the country. (NHCP)

Archbishop Arguelles, we are disturbed by this supposed program being initiated by the Archdiocese of Lipa.Though we understand the need for revenue generation, we believe that it should not be achieved at the expense of desecrating our heritage structures.

We fought against the insertion of the McDonalds Store in the Church Grounds in early 2001, but found it was too late. We wouldn’t want this to happen again now. The case of McDonalds should not be used as a model for commercialism within the church as to this day, we do not agree with its continued existence in the church grounds.

We protest in very strong terms, that the School must stay as a non-commercial operation within the Church grounds.

The Convent and the School’s heritage structure should remain as an educational institution as we protect and preserve the few remaining vestiges of our ancient and historical town. We, the concerned citizens of Balayan, would not want to see the remnants of our history lost to the jungle of commercialism.

Archbishop Arguelles, with all due respect and holy fervor, we ask you to consider our protest and be as one with the people of Balayan in the preservation of History and Heritage and the Sanctity of our Church grounds.


Sincerely yours in the service of God and Man,
THE LOPEZ FOUNDATION OF BALAYAN
By:
Ike Lopez
Victoria Lopez
Corazon Lopez
Rene Martinez
Vencio Ramos
Col. Julieto Culili

Cc: Dr. Maria Serena I. Diokno, Chair, National Historical Commission of the Philippines

Bishop Julito B. Cortes, Chair, CBCP, Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Church 
From ABS-CBN News
MANILA - Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles has denied allegations that his archdiocese is backing the leasing of a portion of a heritage church for commercial purposes.

A Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) News report quoted Arguelles as saying that there is no truth to reports that a part of the Immaculate Conception Parish Church in Balayan town will be leased to a grocery chain.
"More than the consideration of the Historical Commission, it is not part of the intention of the Archdiocese of Lipa to lease that portion of the building for a commercial end, convinced of its intrinsic evangelizing force and cultural valence," Arguelles said.

"To the advice for us to stop some diggings and all development projects affecting the church building, I say we cannot stop anything that has never been started,” he said.

Arguelles broke his silence after protests against the supposed plan reached Vatican doors through various signature and media campaigns.
A petition on change.org is calling for Arguelles to abandon plans of commercializing the church.

"Upon further investigation, we understand that the Archdiocese of Lipa wishes to utilize all properties of the church for its commercial value in order to generate income.


We gathered as well that in the latter part of July 2013, an ocular inspection of the Balayan church grounds was initiated by the Archdiocese of Lipa along with an Evaluation Meeting with a select group of parishioners to evaluate reactions to the revenue generating proposal of the Church. Proposals were offered to occupy the convent and the elementary building calling for the nuns to be relocated to another area within the grounds. Based on feedback we received from the said group, a significant number of participants opposed the said plan," a portion of the petition addressed to Arguelles read.
The prelate admitted that such a plan was actually considered by the archdiocesan finance administrator, but was later scrapped after it "triggered a barrage of angry responses."
Arguelles said the plan still drew the ire of critics even though he already asked the finance administrator to keep mum about it.

"Certainly, because of these misrepresentations, we are pained that the parish and the archdiocese are immediately placed in a bad light in the eyes of our unknowing and misinformed faithful who are men and women of goodwill," he said.

"Allow me to clearly declare to everyone: more than the consideration of the Historical Commission, it is not part of the intention of the Archdiocese of Lipa to lease a portion of the building for a commercial end, convinced of its intrinsic evangelizing force and cultural valence,” he added.
"Spiritual sickness of a Church."
"We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a Church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a Church becomes like this, it grows sick. It is true that going out onto the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman. But if the Church stays wrapped up in itself, it will age. And if I had to choose between a wounded Church that goes out onto the streets and a sick withdrawn Church, I would definitely choose the first one." Pope Francis
Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles yesterday said that while a 20-year-old gunman killed 20 children in the US, President Aquino would be killing millions of children with a stroke of a pen if he signs the RH bill into law.
“Our President intends to kill 20 million children with a fountain pen…to sign the RH bill into law,” he said. From Philippine Star