People always turn to records in search of community memories, this is according to the lecture conducted by the Executive Director of National Archives of the Philippines (NAP) Mr. Victorino M. Manalo on the 58th episode of Intramuros Learning Sessions (ILS) held on July 12, 2021 via ZOOM video conference.

From his lecture titled, “Reading Boljoon: From Records to Retablo” which was taken from an essay of the same title published in the Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society in 2016, Mr. Manalo highlighted the importance of church records and how it serves as a window to the past. His discussion focused on six parts namely: Reading Church Records, Reading Inventories, Reading Church Objects, Reading Retablos, Reading the Boljoon Facade and A Reading of Boljoon.

Mr. Manalo noted that in the Philippines, the Catholic Church holds the largest amount of records in the country, and church records have always provided valuable insights into society’s neglected issue by also serving as a window into the community life in the colonial era.  From records to retablo, he discussed the inventories of records and the retablo in Boljoon and that the inventories of records showed a list of objects used in church.

In his lecture, he said that in the case of Patrocinio de Maria Parish in Boljoon, records that were preserved mainly included baptismal, wedding and death records, an initial appraisal of these records can provide an idea of the parish life from the Spanish era to the present day, while the retablo which serves as the main feature of the church can be found either behind the altar or the church’s facade. He added that Chinese were commissioned to make these retablos, that is why Chinese touches can be seen in some retablos across the country.

To conclude his lecture Mr. Manalo highlighted the importance of records and how it will always be relevant in the present time. He said records will help people remember the past, to understand the present and that recording today should continue for the future.