Why did Bautista donate the panels to the National Museum and not to Boljoon?

Several people I talked to separately all said essentially the same thing: Edwin Bautista initially wanted to donate the panels directly to Boljoon but then changed his mind and donated it to the National Museum of the Philippines instead.

Why? What persuaded him to donate to the National Museum? Who persuaded him to donate to the National Museum?

All the sources I’ve talked to know about what transpired because either they were participants or talked to the participants of the transaction.

Bautista was a good faith buyer who wanted to do the right thing after the discovery of the panels’ provenance, somebody who knows him told me.

But here we are.

How true is the scuttlebutt that the intention was to eventually display the panels at the National Museum of the Philippines – Cebu? How true that there wasn’t and there still isn’t a plan to return the panels to Boljoon?

Panels stolen from Cebu church surface in National Museum; Cebuanos want them back
Panels allegedly stolen in the 1980s from the heritage church of Boljoon resurfaced after they were donated by Unionbank CEO Edwin Bautista to the National Museum

Are the National Museum and Director General Jeremy Barns getting back at Cebu for spurning their request for jewelry dug up at Boljoon? Eileen Mangubat, retired publisher and a church volunteer, described the tug of war in a recent post on Facebook.

“Among the significant finds of Chinese ceramics, glass beads and tools were a 1.4 meter gold chain of 18 karats buried with a woman, and a large bent tube gold earring worn by male corpse, jewelry that denoted high social status.”

“A tug-of-war followed over who had custody over the excavated finds of Boljoon: The National Museum or Cebu church heritage keepers?”

“Locals prevailed,” Mangubat wrote.

Cebu archbishop, governor ask National Museum to return stolen church panels
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma says the four stolen panels are sacred objects because they were on the pulpit ‘where for centuries, Augustinian friars delivered sermons to the faithful’

Will locals prevail again? Will the collective voices of Boljo-anons amplified by other Cebuanos, top local officials, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, and Archbishop Jose Palma eventually persuade the National Museum of the Philippines and DG Barns to return the panels stolen from the pulpit of the The Archdiocesan Shrine of Patrocinio de Maria Santisima?

We will know soon enough. I have sent several questions to the National Museum and Ginoo Ko! what an unresponsive government agency, what an unresponsive office.

The National Museum leadership seems to have imbued the character of many of its collections – relics of a colonial past.

Stolen pulpit panels controversy revives unrelated theft allegations vs late Cebu priest
Father Miguel Ortega allegedly stole rare religious antiques from the Archdiocesan Shrine of Patrocinio de Maria Santisima in Boljoon, Cebu, when he served as parish priest from 1976 to 1982

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