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a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Heritage Watch

I was a little adamant in starting this thread as I don’t know how long would it last, however, since our country’s heritage sites and historic landmarks are slowly disappearing, here’s hoping that this thread would serve as message board to save the remaining structures that we have.

I’d like to start with a place closer to home: Manila (I would also like to encourage everyone from other regions/ provinces to post here. I will send the weblink of this thread to government agencies and NGOs).

An old house along San Rafael Street will be demolished sometime soon. I took some pictures yesterday during the San Miguel walk:

The sign says it all. Exact address: 333 San Rafael Street, San Miguel, Manila

The house dates back to early 1920s.

Firms/ Companies involved in the demolition project:

LBC Comunidades Development, Incorporated
J.T. Mañosa and Associates (Architects)
Export and Industry Bank
La Casarita Developers (Tel. No.8906265/ 8906326)

The interiors of the house:

There’s even a Rolls Royce in the backyard!

Yes, this is privately owned and it would take extraordinary circumstances to prevent the demolition team from destroying a historic landmark. But if we take the initiative to save this house as well as other sites, people without any cultural sensitivity will be enlightened.

Below is the contact information of the developer:

La Casarita
LBC Comunidades Development, Incorporated
Tel. No. 8906265/ 8906326

NGOs/ Government agencies:

National Commission for Culture and the Arts
5235382 (for Heritage Sites)

Heritage Conservation Society Secretariat
5212239/ 5222497/ 09178668853

Ms. Melly Almosara
National Historical Institute
TM Kalaw Street, Ermita, Manila

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
ishtefh_03 said:
^^wow!! member ako kaso sa yahoo groups ako nag join kaya ung inbox ko puro msg ng hsc then i compiled it... and my heritage-youth rin diba??? oo nga dapat meron ang ust, ilakad ko kaya... hmmn... kaso matrabaho...
Steph, that would be good. I know it would be very tedious but if it's for the sake of protecting what's left for the next generation, your brave move would serve its purpose and encourage more people to be involved in conserving our heritage.

A close colleague mentioned that UST really should put up HCS chapter since the UST admins/ board of directors are putting up gymnasiums, courts, etc. without giving much importance to the fact that the entire UST should be declared a heritage site.

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #22 ·
overtureph said:
Thanks to people like Augusto Villalon, Bambi Harper, Paolo Alcazaren, Ambeth Ocampo, Fr. Rene Javellana, Fr. Pedro Gallende, Regalado Trota Jose, Wonderboy, Animo and to all those people in this thread whose campaigning and educating us, of and for, our heritage and history. It seems things are changing although slowly, but at least it seems people are more aware of what they have and what they are loosing. In addition, there where also succesful conservation projects that where done.

So I hope something be done to conserve the house and hopefully the car too. I think we have more than enough SHOE BOX architecture already.

Great work Wonderboy.
Thanks for the kind words Overtureph. The battle has just started to save the old house from demolition.

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Coffee said:
I kinda hate to say it, but that house in its current state is an eyesore. It looks neglected and grimy. It could potentially look good with some renovations and upkeep, but the owners of the place apparently didn't care to maintain it. And the project set to replace it-- though its no architectural masterpiece-- looks like a clean and welcome development. I don't want to seem historically insensitive... I do have a lot of appreciation for history, but not everything from the 1920s is worth saving simply for being old.
Coffee, thanks for your opinion.

For your enlightenment, below are two photos of Orchid Garden Suites located at Vito Cruz Street, Manila:

Justice Antonio Villareal residence, built ca. 1932. Pablo Antonio, architect

As you can see in the new photo, the old house has been spared from demolition and now serves as a lobby and function area.

Old houses that are derelict would definitely look grimy - this is a sad fact. But that doesn't mean that it has to be demolished. 1920s to 1930s was the height of Phil. art deco - one of most celebrated 'high art' and a great achievement in Phil. architecture.

Yes, the project that would replace the old house is clean - malamang, it's a new structure. Assuming you're pertaining to the architectural design that you think is 'clean,' well, a shoe box design has clean, fine lines but I think it pales in comparison to the one that should be spared from demolition.

The Orchid Garden Suites is a perfect example of how an old structure can be turned into something new and there’s no need to demolish a piece of heritage simply because it looks grimy and neglected.

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #46 ·
Monte de Piedad

Another prewar structure on the ‘endangered’ list is the Monte de Piedad building located at Ongpin Street, Sta. Cruz, Manila. Although, the building is still in use and is now owned by Keppel Bank, this piece of gem in downtown Manila has been neglected through the years.

Aside from the fact that Monte de Piedad badly needs thorough cleaning and a paint job, proper restoration should also be done to save the building.

I would also like to encourage everyone to post some photos here or articles related to heritage conservation.

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #68 ·
manileño said:
Hello Jepoy! Great job on this thread. So what exactly do you do at HCS? Take pics and do reports for LGUs? Does it have a website? Also, this Li is based abroad, does that mean expats can join too? And what/how can we contribute? :)
Hey there Juan! :) I'm a only a student member of HCS but I volunteered to take pictures and send out reports to HCS secretariat and HCS yahoogroups. It's a tedious task really since it's only a one-man team.

Unfortunately HCS website is still under construction. In the meantime, you can register to HCS yahoogroups. Just visit yahoo groups and search for Heritage Conservation Society.

I met Ms. Roz Li during the San Miguel tour and she said that she's a member of a heritage conservation group based in NYC. Sorry for the confusion. Ms. Li isn't a member of HCS Phils. but her group in NYC would soon coordinate with HCS here in Manila for future projects and activities. I can send her e-mail address in case you want to get in touch with her.

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #69 · (Edited)
manileño said:
And what/how can we contribute? :)
Thanks again Juan for bringing up the question.

For those who would like to report any heritage sites within the Philippine archipelago that are "endangered," you may post pictures/captions on this thread and I will send the link via e-mail to HCS and other government agencies responsible for protecting our heritage sites. I will also take the time for make a follow-up call if needed and coordinate with the HCS secretariat.

Articles/ photos/ weblinks related to heritage conservation can also be posted on this thread.

For those who would like to report a heritage site in danger but would like to remain anonymous, you may send me a private message.

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #80 ·
ishtefh_03 said:
so, if ever i'll post or report any site, they will do something about it???
Reporting an endangered heritage site is like blowing the whistle. This is just the first step. The thing with gov't agencies is that one should start complaining in order for them to act accordingly. Actually, even if one constantly complains, all efforts sometimes remain futile. But my principle regarding this issue is to beat the odds no matter what. I would prefer to roll up the boulder over and over until I reach the peak rather than stay put and do nothing.

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #89 ·
Juan, thanks for your comment. It's nice to know that one of my friends here in SSC appreciates my efforts :)

I'm just a little 'under the weather' lately. A lot of people are expecting too much from me wherein fact they should help me out preserve our heritage instead. They thought that I only limit my concern to the color of the building and saving the Rolls Royce. They didn't know that it was much deeper than the facade and the vintage car; it was about preservation of our past.

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #114 ·
Hawayano said:
@Wonderboy (more like Batang Maynila): thanks for posting the latest pics of the backside of the old Legislative Bldg. now Natl. Museum. Regarding your question, are they doing some renovation/gutting of that room in the upper floor? It looks a lot like a trash chute...I hope it's not some clandestine scheme to smuggle out some of the collection (would the crooks be that obvious?)
He he...I certainly hope so. :)

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #122 ·
Update on Paoay Church

Below is a text message I received from my friend based in Ilocos:

FYI: the reverend priest of Paoay started plastering the interior walls of the church with cement! Hello NCCA, NHI, UNESCO, your credibility is down the drain!
I called NCCA today and they said that they will be going to Ilocos tomorrow to personally talk to the parish priest who spearheaded the plastering of cement on the interiors of Paoay church.

Actually, I called Paoay Church before I called NCCA, unfortunately, Fr. Victor Calma was not available to take my call but I was able to talk to one of the caretakers and she said that the 'cementing' started last January 24.

I heard that Fr. Calma is hardheaded and wouldn't cooperate with the gov't, UNESCO, and NCCA.

So is anyone here from Paoay? Perhaps a local/ Ilocano with cultural sensitivity can help convince Fr. Calma to protect Paoay Church. NCCA added that the priest had some other 'projects' that would be detrimental to the preservation of the church.

Below are the contact information for reference:

Paoay Church: (077)7932030
City of Paoay: (077) 6140191
NCCA: (02) 5272192

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #145 ·
Help for Baras Church

Message: 1
Date: Sun, 19 Mar 2006 17:18:32 -0800 (PST)
From: Jeremy Barns <[email protected]>
Subject: Help for Baras Church

Dear all,

Last February 16, I was taking my family, visiting from Australia, on
the drive around Laguna de Bay and the old lakeshore towns of Rizal and
Laguna (very oddly, for its proximity to the city and its first-rate
road with little traffic after Binangonan all the way to Los Banos, this
fantastic heritage and scenic route is still very much unknown), and we
dropped in on the church of San Jose in Baras, Rizal. Built in the
1680s by the Franciscans, it's a favorite of mine for the charm of the
setting, its superior preservation and the authentic ancestral character it
retains. Indeed, it's a veritable showcase.

As it was around lunchtime on a weekday, the main doors were closed
so we snuck in through the convento to find an unlocked side door. We
were busted by a young fellow in a t-shirt who was very friendly and took
us inside, and who turned out to be the parish priest, Fr. Giovanni
Yago. We entered into a long conversation while my parents were taking
photos and rambling around, and, when he realized that I knew a thing or
two about colonial churches, Fr. Yago said that he was initiating a
project to replace the leaking corrugated iron roof, which dates from the
last renovation in the 1960s. This renovation also saw the removal of
the old ceiling and left the original 300 year-old wooden trusswork and
beams exposed. If you know the church, it's a glorious site (though the
more I think about it, the lost ceiling was a misfortune).

Now, Fr. Yago told me he was trying to work out how to do it -
replace the roof - and asked me for advice. The only person he felt he could
talk with was this engineer friend of his who's in charge of
maintenance at one of the plush new condominiums at the Fort. I expressed
surprise that there was no one to help him, and he said he did not know who to
get in touch with, except perhaps this Belgian tourist who passed
through some time ago and who seemed to know quite a lot about old
buildings. So much for institutional support.

I referred him to the NCCA and to HCS, specifically mentioning people
like Arch. Villalon, Ricky Jose, etc. And I made a mental note to write
to you all. On my part, I said that I was neither an architect nor an
engineer, but that it would be a sensitive undertaking where it would be
paramount to retain the trusswork, etc.

Would someone like to help? Here is a young priest, proud of the
heritage of his church building, but presumably on a tight budget and
definitely with only very limited access to the expert advice and knowledge
anyone would need. I would urge those interested to drive over and take
a look, and seek Fr. Yago out to offer help in sympathy with both
heritage considerations and his aims for his parishioners.

The telephone number of the church (from the Dioscese of Antipolo
website) is 6531069. Fr. Yago expects to stay at Baras for only another
year or two before his next transfer... Oh, and he showed me cracks on
both sides of the choirloft where the main facade is tilting away from
the rest of the church - he said it had gone from an inch wide to around
four inches in only the last few years...

Jeremy Barns

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #165 ·
Getting Our Heritage to Survive the Ages
Augusto F. Villalon

The year 2001 was when heritage conservationists flexed their muscles, forged partnerships with environmentalists to protect heritage, and tested the effectiveness of Philippine law in preserving the nation’s cultural heritage. It was a positive year for heritage. The National Museum declared 26 churches as National Treasures, starting a major restoration program by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Nielson Tower in Makati received an honorable mention in the prestigious UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards. The UNESCO-Arirang Prize donated by the Republic of Korea was bestowed on the Hudhud, the traditional Ifugao harvest chant, as one of 10 examples of “Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.” The year ended with the inscription of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras on the World Heritage in Danger List by UNESCO. It was also the year when the Ramon Magsaysay Award was given for the first time in recognition of cultural heritage: for lifelong efforts of Ikuo Hirayama who traveled from Japan along the Silk Road to preserve its treasures.

The useless demolition of Manila’s Jai Alai building in June 2000 was the catalyst that opened Filipino eyes to the fragility of the remaining symbols from our past. The intense protest to save the Jai Alai ended in a negotiation process between conservationists and city officials. However, before the process with Manila Mayor Lito Atienza could come to conclusion, he issued the order to demolish the Art Deco Manila landmark designed by the internationally renowned Los Angeles architect Welton Beckett in 1939. It felt like a helpless situation. With the Jai Alai building gone, the threat to national heritage became clear to a greater number of Filipinos and getting it to survive the ages required increased effort.

Why survive? Getting our heritage to survive the ages keeps alive the collection of cultural markers that set Filipinos apart as a unique people. They show our future generations what our shared Filipino identity is, establishing a sense of national pride so necessary to keep us centered during the current globalization process. Therefore, it is essential to keep the total heritage picture alive, an entire range of cultural markers produced by Filipino culture over the ages in the literature, music, painting, sculpture, and decorative arts, running the extent of life expressions including the cuisine that is uniquely ours.

Architecture is part of the heritage picture. Its scope spans the clusters of bahay kubo villages through the bahay na bato in Spanish colonial towns, to the American period Beaux-Arts urban planning of Manila and Baguio that became the model replicated in many Philippine cities, including present architecture which is the heritage we are leaving our future generations.

Although the awareness for heritage preservation has been increasing in the past decade, cultural heritage is still mostly unappreciated by a nation whose narrow view focuses on the present. Little realization exists that looking to the past to understand, to remember, and to preserve heritage is the groundwork for planning for the future of the country. The paradigm exists that a country still in the development struggle has no place or budget to preserve the old, the traditional, and the historic.

Progress is achieved at the expense of removing everything old to give way to the new and modern, a theory presented in 1942 by the German economist Joseph Schumpeter in his book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy . The 1942 mindset is still the rationale for many of the setbacks that plague heritage conservation in the Philippines. It provides the convenient rationalization that scarce national resources should be allocated to meet the needs of the here and now rather than being wasted on elitist efforts to preserve the old. Events in the past year brought out the need to resolve the clash between “creative destruction” and the more current view that conserving heritage is the basis for sustainable urban development and for establishing a sense of nationalism.

The conservation issue of 2001 was the announcement by Manila Mayor Atienza of his plans to construct the Park and Ride, a three-story bus terminal and parking building on the north end of the Mehan Garden. The second part of the plan was the proposal to transfer the City College of Manila from its present location in the former Philippine National Bank building on the Escolta to the south end of the garden. The mayor and his City Council’s response to the protests was that the protesters stood in the way of progress.

To save Mehan Garden, the conservation circle expanded to include various artists’ and environmental non-government organizations, signaling that heritage conservation is a multisectoral concern. They launched a joint protest with a “Picnic in the Park” on World Environment Day, June 5, 2001. For the picnic, the Winner Foundation opened the gates of its Arroceros Forest Park, a thriving Central Manila mini-forest in the improbable location at the foot of Quezon Bridge between the Pasig River and Arroceros Street.

The morning picnic under the leafy shade was proof of how green spaces renew the quality of polluted city air and provide the rare inner-city open spaces that Manila lacks. In a serenade to Mehan Garden, three tenors sang “I Never Thought I’d See a Poem as Lovely as a Tree,” the Bayanihan danced, and Alejandro Roces, former secretary of education and current head of the MRTCB, reminisced about the Mehan Garden of his youth.

Subsequently, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) responded and revoked the Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) for the Park and Ride. The DENR further issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the grounds that necessary permits were not previously obtained from the National Historical Institute and the National Museum. Because of its declaration as a National Historical Site, Presidential Decree 260 states that the NHI must approve any changes to Mehan Garden. By virtue of the National Museum designation of the area as an archeological site, clearance from the museum must precede any construction. City Hall admitted ignorance to the NHI and National Museum laws. City authorities ignored both the TRO and the P50,000 a day fine imposed by the DENR, continuing construction until the illegal structure was completed in December 2001.

The construction of the City College of Manila was delayed, pending the identification of suitable alternate locations by a search committee which identified the Avanceña High School in Quiapo, the Veterans Bank Building on Arroceros, and the site of the former Ateneo de Municipal in Intramuros. The Intramuros site was chosen as the best of the alternatives. Negotiations with the Department of Tourism, the owner of the Intramuros site, began and remained unresolved at year’s end.

With Mehan Garden setting the precedent, similar cases where the NHI and National Museum laws were ignored in favor of development projects were reported to the Heritage Conservation Society: Fuerte Concepcion Inmaculada del Triunfo in Ozamis City, Huluga Caves in Misamis Oriental, Fort San Pedro in Cebu City, Balayan Church in Batangas. DENR intensified its cooperation with the heritage sector by requiring clearances from the NHI and National Museum before issuing ECCs.

The existing laws for the protection of heritage were tested in the courts. The Heritage Conservation Society pursued its case against Intramuros Administrator Dominador Ferrer Jr. for the illegality of the contract with Overseas Construction and Development Corporation that allowed leasing portions of the Intramuros walls for development.

It was a year that saw many conservation conferences. Far Eastern University organized an international conference on urban planning and heritage conservation. The Instituto Cervantes lecture series included lectures on heritage by Javier Galván, architect and director of the Instituto Cervantes who spoke on the endangered Spanish colonial architecture, Fr. Guillermo Tejón, OP, on “Padre Valverde, Urban Planner and Road Builder,” Dr. Jaime Laya on homes of the Spanish period.

The Cultural Heritage Program of the Ateneo de Manila and the Heritage Conservation Society conducted “Manila’s Heritage from Past to Future in Quiapo” that recognized “a clear appraisal to our right to culture and our right to protect evidence of such a culture.”

The National Museum declared 26 Spanish colonial churches as National Treasures: Bacong (Negros Oriental), Balayan (Batangas), Betis (Pampanga), Boljo-on (Cebu), Calasiao (Pangasinan), Dupax (Nueva Vizcaya), Guiuan (Samar), Jasaan (Misamis Oriental), Jimenez (Misamis Occidental), Lazi (Siquijor), Loboc (Bohol), Luna (La Union), Mahatao (Batanes), Magsingal (Ilocos Sur), Majayjay (Laguna), Maragondon (Cavite), Masinloc (Zambales), Pan-ay (Capiz), Romblon (Romblon), Rizal (Cagayan), San Joaquin (Iloilo), Tabaco (Albay), Tanay (Rizal), Tayabas (Quezon), Tayum (Abra), and Tumauini (Isabela). The NCCA responded to the declaration by initiating a project that provides technical assistance by qualified conservation practitioners for the churches.

There were more opportunities to experience heritage in 2001 than in previous years. The monthly Heritage Walking Tours series sponsored by the Heritage Conservation Society offered members and guests visits guided by respected historians and architects to places normally restricted to the public: San Beda Chapel, Far Eastern University campus, and the University of Santo Tomas campus. Private homes in Taal (Batangas), Malolos, Malabon, and San Miguel (Bulacan) were opened for visits. Of special interest was the tour of four turn-of-the-20th-century fire stations in Manila in Tanduay, San Nicolas, Paco, and Intramuros. Walks around the Luneta, the Escolta, and the Intramuros walls were so well-attended that they are now given regularly.

The irony of it all is that despite local apathy towards conservation, Philippine efforts in heritage conservation received international notice in 2001. After receiving the NCCA Alab ng Haraya award for heritage conservation, UNESCO awarded an honorable mention to the former Nielson Tower, now the Filipinas Heritage Library. Built in 1937, the Art Deco structure was one of the earliest airports in Asia. It ceased functioning as an airport in 1948. Its two runways became the anchors for the present-day Makati Business District, Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas. In 1949, it housed the offices of the Integrated Property Development Corp and the Ayala police detachment. From the late 1970s to 1994, it was as a fine dining restaurant aptly called Nielson Tower. Its present makeover was in 1994 when Architects International and Leandro V. Locsin and Partners reworked the heritage structure into the Filipinas Heritage Library.

The NCCA cited the Nielson Tower for “being a remarkable illustration of cultural conservation through adaptive reuse manifested in the architecture of the library” and for “elevating people’s understanding of the need to preserve and study the nation’s heritage and has stood as clear proof of the power of foresight.”

The UNESCO citation read: “The impressive conversion of one of Asia’s earliest airports into a heritage library represents a major achievement in preserving an important era of Manila’s history. Historical events and architecture are exemplified in the legacy of the structure and in the excellent choice to continue its livelihood as an educational facility. In a time of rapid urban development and expansion, the Nielson Tower is an excellent model for others to follow on how to appropriately re-adapt historic structures in the community.”

The other entries for the UNESCO award in 2001 manifest the high quality of preservation or adaptive re-use in the Philippines: the Balay Negrense in Silay, the Fule-Malvar Mansion in San Pablo City, the Orchid Garden Suites in Manila, and the Zaragoza Residence in Vigan.

The last heritage milestone of 2001 was the inscription of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, the first “continuing cultural landscape” inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in the “World Heritage in Danger” list. It signaled that the international community supports the Philippine government in increasing conservation efforts for the threatened site.

2001 was a year of setting precedents. It established that the concern for our heritage is multisectoral. Nielson Tower proved the viability of adaptive re-use within the context of valuable Makati real estate, an example that the new need not be at the expense of building over the old.

Hopefully, the heritage events of 2001 will crystallize the Filipino’s vision of himself, of the importance that his culture survive the ages to form the basis of national identity and national development. The trashing of Philippine cities exemplifies the national neglect of our heritage and the cavalier disregard of authorities for existing preservation legislation. People cannot be expected to take care of their surroundings if they have no understanding and love for them, without having any knowledge of their value and meaning. The battle for heritage to survive the ages gained much ground in the past year.

*From Sanghaya 2002, a yearbook on Philippine arts and culture, a publication of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

About the author:

Augusto F. Villalonis one of the country’s leading experts on heritage conservation. Aside from being the principal architect of A. Villalon Associates, he has served as technical advisor for UNESCO and UNIDO. He is a member of the Committee on Monuments and Sites of the NCCA and the Philippine World Heritage Committee secretariat. He is also a columnist for Philippine Daily Inquirer.

a.k.a Escolta Kid
2,142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #167 ·
SOS: Gilmore Street (New Manila)

Dear HCS members and friends:

Below is a copy of Mila Lane's email.
Please e-mail her for your valuable support or involvement in the

From: "Mila Lane" <[email protected]>
Subject: phil. heritage society
Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2006 04:30:17 +0800

Dear toti - mila lane here. how are you? always enjoy reading your
column in the inquirer. that's where I got your email address. Are
you connected with the phil. heritage society? In our barangay, New
Manila (Mariana) we are trying to stop certain politicians from changing
street names. Right now its Gilmore Avenue they want to change.
we heard that the Heritage Society has a resolution or ruling that no
street name can be changed unless the person whose name will be used
has been dead for 10 years.
In our case, it is Cecilia Munoz Palma whose name they want to use
instead of Gilmore. Do you know anything about this.?
We are conducting a signature campaign and collecting signatures of
thos who oppose changing this street name of Gilmore.
Can you give us information or suggestions that may be helpful? The
bill is already in Congress so we have to work fast.
Thanks a lot.


This makes me really angry. Those damn politicians have nothing better to do than change street names!!! :gaah:
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