MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) has reported severe damage to cultural and heritage sites in several parts of northern Luzon following the powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Abra on July 27.
In a statement sent Wednesday night, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco ordered DOT's regional offices and the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to extend possible assistance to affected stakeholders and tourism establishments.
Based on initial reports, at least two churches that had been declared “National Cultural Treasure” by the National Museum of the Philippines were affected by the tremor while several heritage and ancestral houses sustained notable damage.
“We will request TIEZA to prioritize assessment of the cultural treasures affected by the recent earthquake recognizing the need to protect and sustain our heritage and cultural treasures for the benefit and welfare of our future generations,” Frasco said.
The DOT has so far recorded damage in the following tourist destinations:
- Sta. Catalina de Alexandria Church, a 19th-century baroque church and declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2001.
- San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine (heavily damaged), one of the oldest churches in Abra
- Minor cracks in Lafayette Luxury Suites Hotel and Crown Legacy buildings
- Vigan Cathedral
- Syquia House, an ancestral home turned museum in Vigan
- Hotel Linda
- Heritage and ancestral houses along the Vigan Heritage Village
- Bantay Bell Tower in Bantay, Ilocos Sur
- St. John The Baptist Church in San Juan, Ilocos Sur
Multiple ground faulting was likewise seen in the Santa Ana Beach Area, a favorite tourist spot among visitors.
The agency said two TIEZA properties also sustained damage.
The riprap and ceiling of the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel in Ifugao partially caved in while Mt. Data Hotel's ceiling in the fireplace and lobby area collapsed, prompting TIEZA to cancel all bookings in both hotels until a thorough assessment has been undertaken.
“My concern and sympathy are one with those who have been affected by the recent earthquake in Northern Luzon. The Department will extend whatever help it can to tourism stakeholders and establishments that have been directly affected by this incident. I have requested the DOT Regional offices in Northern Luzon to continue with the assessment of the extent of the damage and to immediately submit the report for our appropriate actions and assistance,” Frasco said.
“Our resilience as a nation has already been tried and tested in the past. I am certain that this can be strengthened by the essential collaboration between our national agencies, local governments, and crucial stakeholders as we conquer our challenges,” she added.
No tourists were reported harmed but those with travel plans to the Northern Luzon area are advised to practice extra precautions. (PNA)