Consistent with Far Eastern University’s advocacy to promote heritage conservation, the Community Extension Services (CES) and the Institute of Architecture and Fine Arts (IARFA) partnered with the San Agustin Museum (SAM) in Intramuros, Manila to initiate the assessment and documentation of its retablos.
IARFA students and faculty-architects led byJeremy Jade Balagat, Arriane Joy Dullas and former Dean Lorelei De Viana collaborated with SAM’s Louella Revilla and Fr. Ricky Villar, OSA, conservation head and director respectively, in identifying architectural pieces that need to be assessed and documented for future conservation efforts.
The conservation effort showed the need to improve the physical environment of the retablos by providing appropriate lighting, humidity, and temperature. Systematic structural investigation of the wood joints, fastenings, anchorage, and retrofit are needed to improve structural resistance to induced dynamic forces such as earthquake. Regular cleanup and repair or replacement of deteriorated parts are also recommended.
“I am honored to assist the student volunteers of IARFA in documenting the four-cloister retablos of San Agustin. Documentation is a prerequisite for an informed decision and is very essential for heritage conservation,” said Architect Balagat.
The advocacy part and parcel of service learning initiatives for the students who were assigned per retablo. Julius Kristian Y. Palqueza, one of the student team leaders shared this insight: “The project has made me realize that architecture is not just about creating something new, but also about preserving the treasures of our rich history and culture. Documenting these retablos is not an easy task, but I took on the challenge in order to expand my horizons.”
Revilla, SAM’s conservation head, confirmed the significance of the partnership: “In conservation and restoration, any in-depth research and documentation presented can be deemed valuable records of this era and can be used as reference material in the future.”
Complementing this initiative is the assessment and documentation of paintings, SAM’s equally prized assets.
The newly reformatted CES has taken on this proactive role to pursue FEU’s programs on heritage conservation. “FEU has the country’s largest ensemble of well-preserved Art Deco Architectural structures in the country, and we hope to replicate the principles of this advocacy by helping in the documentation process of cultural treasures such as the retablos of the San Agustin Museum,” said Dr. Luzelle Anne Ormita, CES director.
SAM, conceived in 1965, houses centuries-old collection of religious art of the San Agustin Church, the oldest stone church in the Philippines.