National Museum offers to share historical pulpit panels with Cebu

The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) is open to the idea of sharing four 19th-century pulpit panels depicting Saint Augustine of Hippo with Cebu, following a request from local officials.

Officials in Cebu have asked for the return of the panels, which are believed to have been stolen from Patrocinio de Maria Santisima Parish Church and hold significance to the province’s religious and cultural heritage.

In response, the NMP expressed willingness to engage in constructive dialogue with Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia, Boljoon town Mayor Jojie Derama, and Archbishop Jose Palma to facilitate the sharing of the four panels, as well as an exchange of technical assistance.

The panels were recently received by the NMP from private collectors Edwin and Aileen Bautista, who, according to the museum, acquired the panels through legitimate means.

Recognizing the historical vulnerability of church artifacts to looting and improper disposal, the NMP emphasized the importance of considering the intricate historical context influencing these actions, while also stressing the need for open dialogue and collaborative initiatives to address these complexities.

The NMP also noted that including the pulpit panels in its collections ensures that the artifacts will benefit from proper study, display, and conservation for generations to come.

The Patrocinio de Maria Santisima Parish Church in Boljoon has been declared a National Cultural Treasure by the NMP and a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

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