June 20, 2024

It was a day after the Easter Day celebration when a fire gutted down the Divine Mercy Chapel at Sitio Baang, Kilong, Sagada on April 18.
Parish priest Rev. Father Marcs Castañeda, in a Facebook post, called on parishioners to help in rebuilding the chapel, which was the only house of prayer in the far-flung sitio.
He said the Baang community was caught unaware as they were preparing for the feast of the Divine Mercy which was supposedly set on April 24 following the Easter celebration. 
He said the parishioners were hard up in putting out the fire as there is no accessible water source around the remote area.
“At 3 p.m., somebody called me with a trembling voice narrating what she was witnessing, ‘Padi, mapupuoan nan simbaan tako!’ (Father, our church is on fire!) I felt her mixed emotions but I felt my helplessness and her helplessness as well,” Castañeda said, adding he was not in Baang at that moment the fire happened.
He said the fire did not spare any part of the church including the fixtures, materials, and musical instruments.
Castañeda said the fire started from the fields below the church. It started razing the tall grasses and pine trees and eventually surrounded the church and gradually consumed the whole structure.
The Sagada Bureau of Fire Protection is conducting an investigation on the incident.
“As the parish priest, I am in a dilemma now which church to prioritize since the Madongo Church is due to start its construction this May. It had been hampered by the pandemic. This is the opportune time to start,” he said.
Castañeda asked for prayers for the whole church community in Baang as well as for the conduct of the investigation to go well.
The Divine Mercy Chapel in Baang was built in 2015 through Rev. Fr. Pablo Lumiwan who initiated the construction of the chapel. He said it is a “chapel on a hilltop and a chapel without neighbors except the unseen.”
Castañeda said the chapel served as a place where the youth were trained and actively involved in the liturgy. He said it started from the youth’s training in the Broken Guitar Project (BGP).
They were in-housed at Kilong’s rectory for the rigid training. After some weeks, they went home and started to make their youth music ministry. Musical instruments were donated from selfless friends to motivate the community.
He said due to the incident and following cultural norms, they will cancel the feast of the Divine Mercy celebration, the latter from which the chapel was named after. – Ofelia C. Empian