Philippine Daily Inquirer 03:15 AM February 22nd, 2016
A concrete church rises on ancient ruins of the old Augustinian town of Aranguel.
The Defiant Priest, Alden Boliver started construction of his Chapel in 2014 and despite receiving cease and desist orders to stop the work on the site issued by both the Archdiocese of Capiz and the National Museum; this Priest has persisted in mocking those in authority and continued to build his chapel inside the ruins of the 18th-century church in Barangay Aranguel, founded by the Augustinians in 1704.
The main problems are that Human Remains and other archeologically significant materials were unearthed during the excavations for the foundations of the new Chapel in 2014. These discoveries prompted officials to call in the National Museum for an archaeological assessment and investigation of the area.
National Museum assistant director and osteologist Angel Bautista and his team recovered trade wares as well as ceramic shards which were dated to the Chinese Sung (960AD to 1279AD) and Ming (1368AD to 1644AD) dynasties.
“These archaeological materials are significant because they provide insights into early human habitation in the area. Furthermore, the walls of the old, original church are still intact and should be protected for posterity,” said a National Museum report published on its website in 2014.
Boliver mocks the authority of his Archbishop and the National Museum and defies them both by carelessly & mindlessly continuing work on his project!
National Museum director Jeremy Barns requested Archbishop Jose Advincula to suspend the construction of the chapel pending further investigation.
The archdiocese heeded Barns’ advice and ordered the construction stopped through Fr. Rey Bernard Martinez, who was assigned by the archdiocese as the “curator” of the ruins when it was discovered the area was an archaeological site.
Fr. Martinez “personally met with the Barangay Pastoral Council (BPC) leaders together with me as representative of the LGU to explain the existing laws prohibiting them from the construction of such buildings and at the same time the value of the ruins itself,” said municipal and culture officer Arnold Alarcon Jr.
“As the curator, he verbally instructed the BPC to immediately cease and desist any construction activities inside the ruins until an appropriate study was concluded and alternatives are found,” he added.
Fr. Martinez’ advice was not followed, said Alarcon.
President Roxas Vice Mayor Alfonso Golero told the Inquirer that the 300-year-old structure was declared a Heritage Site through a local resolution on June 20, and that the chapel construction project does not have a building permit.
Golero said that from the start, the local government had coordinated with national cultural agencies on what to do with the ruins and that it had not taken action because it was waiting for the recommendation of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Bautista said National Museum would warn Beliver that he risks facing a suit for violation of Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
The Old Town of Aranguel
The book “Monografias de los Pueblos de Panay,” published by University of San Agustin in Iloilo in 2006, says Aranguel, was founded as a town by the Augustinians in 1704 but did not prosper well due to pirate raids.
It lasted until 1750, when it was annexed to the neighboring town of Pan-ay. Today, it is one of the 22 barangay villages comprising President Roxas town, established in 1949.