Following the National Museum’s recent declaration of Baclaran Church as an “important cultural property” (ICP), Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada has filed a bill seeking to have the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and its surroundings declared a heritage site and tourist destination.
“Wednesdays are acknowledged as ‘Baclaran Day’ by many Filipino Catholic families and visited by thousands of pilgrims, as much as 150,000 devotees from all walks of life, every week,” said Estrada, himself a known Baclaran Church devotee.
In his Senate Bill No. 2278, Estrada said Baclaran Church has become deeply embedded in the spiritual life of Filipinos and is an important part of the rich tradition of Catholic Filipinos, especially those residing in Metro Manila and nearby areas.
“The Redemptorist Church, also known as the National Shrine, is undeniably one of the most popular churches in the Philippines and is considered one of the largest Marian churches in the country, attracting a multitude of devotees as well as tourists,” Estrada said.
The senator emphasized the significance of declaring the Baclaran Church compound along Roxas Boulevard in Parañaque City as a heritage site and tourist destination.
“This declaration aims to institutionalize a policy that will preserve its historical and sociocultural importance, ensuring the accessibility, convenience, and security of its numerous visitors through the construction, installation, and maintenance of appropriate facilities and infrastructure in the area,” Estrada said.
As a declared heritage site and tourist destination, the Department of Tourism (DOT), in coordination with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the local government of Parañaque, and other relevant agencies, will develop a tourism development plan for the site. This plan will include the construction, installation, and maintenance of suitable facilities and infrastructure to enhance the overall features of the surroundings of Baclaran Church, while also ensuring accessibility and the security of tourists.
Estrada noted that funding for the implementation of the tourism development plan will be included in the budget of the local government of Parañaque. Additionally, the DOT will provide technical assistance in tourism capacity building and include Baclaran Church in its national and regional promotion programs.
Since Baclaran Church has been declared as an ICP by the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP), the 65-year-old shrine, designed in modern Romanesque architecture by Cesar Concio and Jesse Bontoc, may receive government subsidies for its preservation and conservation.
Estrada’s bill will ensure funding for the tourism development plan, with the possibility of the DOT supplementing it with internally generated funds.