The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Tuesday turned over digitized church records spanning four centuries to the University of Santo Tomas, which will serve as ‘guardians’ of the important documents.
The university’s rector Fr. Richard Ang received the files from Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, CBCP President, in a low-key event at the UST Rector’s Hall.
The microfilms contain canonical records of baptism, confirmation, marriage and death in parishes all over the country from the early 1660s to the first decades of the 20th century.
The records, found in meticulously written canonical books, were digitized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through its FamilySearch arm.
After years of work, the project was completed and turned over to the CBCP in 2019, during the term of Archbishop Romulo Valles as president.
Bishop David thanked the UST “for serving as guardians of these important documents—microfilm forms of the same documents”.
He recalled how the Latter-day Saints worked with the CBCP in producing the records, and how encouraging it is that despite the changes in media technology, “the old can always be transferred to the new one.”
The transfer of the documents to UST, he added, will “make the data more readily available for research work”.
Fr. Ang, on the other hand, expressed gratitude to the CBCP for the trust given to them.
UST maintains one of oldest existing archives in the country, the Archivo dela Universidad de Santo Tomas, where “priorities are the selection, preservation, and accessibility for research of historical materials”.
The deed of donation signed between the two parties states that the UST will place the materials in an environmentally controlled space that ensures the proper handling and use of the digital files.
It will also provide researchers access to the contents while complying with the provisions of the Data Privacy Act.
Bishop David was accompanied by Msgr. Bernardo Pantin and Fr. Bryand Restituto, the CBCP Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General, respectively.
Also witnessing the ceremony were UST Archivist Fr. Gaspar Sigaya and his assistant Fr. Louie Coronel, O.P.