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The Original is The Best
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It is really deplorable what is happening in Manila with this utter disregard of our historical/architectural treasures. I have not even received a decent response nor acknowledgment from the officials and legislators I wrote to. :eek:hno:

When I saw Wong Kar Wai's movies "In the Mood for Love" and "2046", I somehow thought about the nostalgic beauty of the Avenida of yore. Why can't they see it?

scene from 2046:


scenes from In the Mood for Love:


 

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The Original is The Best
Joined
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6,408 Posts
It is really deplorable what is happening in Manila with this utter disregard of our historical/architectural treasures. I have not even received a decent response nor acknowledgment from the officials and legislators I wrote to. :eek:hno:

When I saw Wong Kar Wai's movies "In the Mood for Love" and "2046", I somehow thought about the nostalgic beauty of the Avenida of yore. Why can't they see it?

scene from 2046:


scenes from In the Mood for Love:


 

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Registered
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592 Posts
National Artist Pablo Antonio’s work to be demolished... save Galaxy Theatre!

What are people doing to Manila's heritage? It seems the uglification of Manila is moving forward at such an alarming rate. The sad part is our utter disregard for the works of people we call National Artists. Why do we give out the award in the first place if we don't even care whether their works are preserved for future generations of Filipinos to appreciate?

I got this from Richard Tuason Bautista of the Heritage Conservation Society, "This morning (3 June 2006) during our taping and inspection of the ongoing demolition of the Avenue Theater and Hotel, we learned from the EVJ Demolition Team, with representation of their general manager Mr. Esteban Toting, that the Galaxy Theatre is next to face the demolition crew.

"Galaxy theatre is a work of National Artist for Architecture Pablo Antonio. It may not be too late to save this one. But how to save it, an uproar from the public is needed."


We should not sit down and simply watch while what's left of the Pearl of the Orient and its capital city, goes down one by one! To the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), National Historical Institute (NHI) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), it's about time you guys take a stand and protect the works of our National Artists! And to all of us ordinary citizens, let's write Mayor Atienza and tell him to stop giving out demolition permits for Manila's architectural heritage!

Again, for those who would like to save this heritage structure, you can call or fax a complaint to Mayor Lito Atienza at 5276063 or 5274991 or send an e-mail at [email protected] .
 

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National Artist Pablo Antonio’s work to be demolished... save Galaxy Theatre!

What are people doing to Manila's heritage? It seems the uglification of Manila is moving forward at such an alarming rate. The sad part is our utter disregard for the works of people we call National Artists. Why do we give out the award in the first place if we don't even care whether their works are preserved for future generations of Filipinos to appreciate?

I got this from Richard Tuason Bautista of the Heritage Conservation Society, "This morning (3 June 2006) during our taping and inspection of the ongoing demolition of the Avenue Theater and Hotel, we learned from the EVJ Demolition Team, with representation of their general manager Mr. Esteban Toting, that the Galaxy Theatre is next to face the demolition crew.

"Galaxy theatre is a work of National Artist for Architecture Pablo Antonio. It may not be too late to save this one. But how to save it, an uproar from the public is needed."


We should not sit down and simply watch while what's left of the Pearl of the Orient and its capital city, goes down one by one! To the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), National Historical Institute (NHI) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), it's about time you guys take a stand and protect the works of our National Artists! And to all of us ordinary citizens, let's write Mayor Atienza and tell him to stop giving out demolition permits for Manila's architectural heritage!

Again, for those who would like to save this heritage structure, you can call or fax a complaint to Mayor Lito Atienza at 5276063 or 5274991 or send an e-mail at [email protected] .
 

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The Original is The Best
Joined
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6,408 Posts
^^ That is really deplorable! Who is the owner now of the Galaxy Theater building? Will it be another member of the Johnny Litton movie owners group?

Even as we write a complaint to Lito Atienza, what can his office do? Issue an injunction? Exercise police power? issue city legislation? provide tax cuts and incentive?

Oh now I just read that you wrote to stop giving demolition permits to these demolitions projects. But once they have issued it, can they withdraw it?

What can compel these owners to stop demolishing these edifices?

What are these Heritage insitutions doing to rally support to the cause of Heritage Building/ Site preservation?
 

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The Original is The Best
Joined
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6,408 Posts
^^ That is really deplorable! Who is the owner now of the Galaxy Theater building? Will it be another member of the Johnny Litton movie owners group?

Even as we write a complaint to Lito Atienza, what can his office do? Issue an injunction? Exercise police power? issue city legislation? provide tax cuts and incentive?

Oh now I just read that you wrote to stop giving demolition permits to these demolitions projects. But once they have issued it, can they withdraw it?

What can compel these owners to stop demolishing these edifices?

What are these Heritage insitutions doing to rally support to the cause of Heritage Building/ Site preservation?
 

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I'm Watching You
Joined
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12,747 Posts
Luneta Hotel










1945, just after the Battle of Manila. The burnt out building is the Bayview Hotel, where some atrocities by Japanese soldiers occurred. To the left, you can see a part of Luneta Hotel.


Bayview Hotel is gone, and so is Hotel Otani which took over the spot. The white building on the right is the University Club Building, where a penthouse has apparently been added post-war. The two trees to the right corner in the photo above still exist.

Comparisons by TheCameraReturns
 

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I'm Watching You
Joined
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12,747 Posts
Luneta Hotel










1945, just after the Battle of Manila. The burnt out building is the Bayview Hotel, where some atrocities by Japanese soldiers occurred. To the left, you can see a part of Luneta Hotel.


Bayview Hotel is gone, and so is Hotel Otani which took over the spot. The white building on the right is the University Club Building, where a penthouse has apparently been added post-war. The two trees to the right corner in the photo above still exist.

Comparisons by TheCameraReturns
 

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592 Posts
Lili said:
What can compel these owners to stop demolishing these edifices?

What are these Heritage insitutions doing to rally support to the cause of Heritage Building/ Site preservation?
At the very least, the National Historical Institute should declare all works of national artists as classified structures. But at the rate they are going, I don't know when that will happen. They could not even get a quorum for meetings! I miss the old board since they met monthly. I hope my good friend NHI/NCCA chairman Ambeth R. Ocampo puts his foot down and starts convening the board regularly and not at the members' convenience.

The NHI Board is composed of Ambeth Ocampo as chairman, Fr. Jose Cruz S.J., Heidi Gloria, Benito Legarda Jr. and Serafin Quiason as members; and National Museum Director Corazon Alvina and National Library Director Prudenciana Cruz as ex-officio members. These are the people responsible for preserving and protecting our historical and architectural heritage.
 

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Lili said:
What can compel these owners to stop demolishing these edifices?

What are these Heritage insitutions doing to rally support to the cause of Heritage Building/ Site preservation?
At the very least, the National Historical Institute should declare all works of national artists as classified structures. But at the rate they are going, I don't know when that will happen. They could not even get a quorum for meetings! I miss the old board since they met monthly. I hope my good friend NHI/NCCA chairman Ambeth R. Ocampo puts his foot down and starts convening the board regularly and not at the members' convenience.

The NHI Board is composed of Ambeth Ocampo as chairman, Fr. Jose Cruz S.J., Heidi Gloria, Benito Legarda Jr. and Serafin Quiason as members; and National Museum Director Corazon Alvina and National Library Director Prudenciana Cruz as ex-officio members. These are the people responsible for preserving and protecting our historical and architectural heritage.
 

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a.k.a Escolta Kid
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2,145 Posts
Discussion Starter · #653 · (Edited)
^^ I went there last week to accompany a newspaper reporter who's doing an article on Avenue Theater demolition and we found out that one of the reasons why NHI is a "little slow" is because they're understaffed.

One of them said that if people will help them out, it would be easier for them to document everything and cover all the heritage sites/ buildings all over the country. Manila alone has more than 500 undeclared sites and the monuments and heritage dept. of NHI has what, 5 staff?

They gave me a form to fill out in case I know certain significant historical structures that should be declared. I photocopied it and started documenting the buildings on Escolta - this is the least thing that I could do because I can't be superman, do research and list all the heritage structures in the Philippines. If this was my day job, I could zoom like a rocket and devote all my time and effort to save all the undeclared and unprotected sites in the country. I actually applied and expressed my intention of joining the Institute but I was told that Executive Order No. 366 was issued, thus prohibiting the filling of vacant positions to prepare for the implementation of the Rationalization Program.

I opted to do volunteer work instead for HCS and MFPI but oftentimes, my are efforts put to waste because those people in higher positions don't even listen and respond at all.
 

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a.k.a Escolta Kid
Joined
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2,145 Posts
Discussion Starter · #654 ·
^^ I went there last week to accompany a newspaper reporter who's doing an article on Avenue Theater demolition and we found out that one of the reasons why NHI is a "little slow" is because they're understaffed.

One of them said that if people will help them out, it would be easier for them to document everything and cover all the heritage sites/ buildings all over the country. Manila alone has more than 500 undeclared sites and the monuments and heritage dept. of NHI has what, 5 staff?

They gave me a form to fill out in case I know certain significant historical structures that should be declared. I photocopied it and started documenting the buildings on Escolta - this is the least thing that I could do because I can't be superman, do research and list all the heritage structures in the Philippines. If this was my day job, I could zoom like a rocket and devote all my time and effort to save all the undeclared and unprotected sites in the country. I actually applied and expressed my intention of joining the Institute but I was told that Executive Order No. 366 was issued, thus prohibiting the filling of vacant positions to prepare for the implementation of the Rationalization Program.

I opted to do volunteer work instead for HCS and MFPI but oftentimes, my are efforts put to waste because those people in higher positions don't even listen and respond at all.
 

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Pila, Laguna: Keeping a heritage site beautiful

By John L. Silva
July 2005

My story has a distressing beginning but a happy ending and lessons for us advocates of heritage preservation.

Visitors to the town of Pila, Laguna are amazed at its well preserved state. Dating back to 900 AD and founded by the Spaniards over 400 years ago, Pila retains its plaza with age-old trees, a gracious church and convent, an American period town hall building, and large stone houses around the square. Pila is cited and studied by historians from around the world as one of the few intact examples of Spanish colonial town planning.

There’s a museum with artifacts from a nearby archaeological site and one section of the plaza still has a free-flowing fountain. Tomas Pinpin printed the first Tagalog dictionary in Pila in 1613.

The Pila Historical Society Foundation with its current President Monina Rivera and its treasurer Cora Relova have over the years, been tireless in showing off this picturesque town to many local and foreign tourists. Five years ago, Cora secured National Historical Landmark status for the town from the National Historical Institute giving it a well-deserved distinction as well as safeguarding its pristine state. With that status, Cora was able to further improve the town and stop a yearly fair from camping on the plaza and transforming the place into a garbage and fecal dump.

In late July, Cora called, quite upset and angry. Globe had posted over forty banners of their ad materials on every lamp post on the plaza, and more banners on the main road leading to it, and on the national highway nearing the town. It was an advertising blitz from hell.

I drove over to Pila and in the pouring rain, saw the ad carnage that Globe had so insensitively done to the town. The pretty plaza was ruined aesthetically, the gracious old houses marred, and with rain making the banners sag, the once delightful town was transformed into a disgusting hovel.

Cora and I strategized how to have the posters immediately removed. First, we reviewed all the write-ups about the town so as to make a case that this was a heritage and tourist site. Second, we searched for allies in our address books who can get to the decision makers in Globe.

A stalwart Pila supporter and former Ayala Museum Director Sonia Ner, gave us a name in the marketing department. We called, the person was abroad and could help out after the weekend.

Cora and I couldn’t wait for a weekend. The offending banners were up, the town had become a tourist pariah, and Globe was destroying the town’s image.

I resorted to Plan B, an all out media broadside against Globe when Cora remembered another Pila supporter. Bea Zobel Jr. had written about the town in the Inquirer Lifestyle section and applauded its beauty. With a few text messages, Cora got to Bea and Bea immediately came to the rescue. An hour later, Archie Monzon of Globe’s corporate marketing department called and the offending posters were removed the next morning, six days after they were put up.

When I shared the happy news to friends, Maribel Ongpin, another heritage stalwart asked “What if there was no Bea?” She added “Don’t you think Globe would be intelligent enough not to mar a heritage site?”

And so, here are the lessons I am sharing for us as well as for Globe in the continuous battle to keep our country beautiful:
1. Heritage sites play an important role in remembering our past as well as generate much needed tourism revenue. They must be off limits to commercial advertising that ruin their charm and drive away tourists.
2. Action, and well planned at that, is better than whining. Cora picked up the phone, did her texting, e-mailed, threatened, cajoled, and found “The Tipping Point” in Bea Zobel. Cora fought not to get sympathy, but results.
3. Globe needs a course on heritage conservation. Why should the onus always be on the Heritage Conservation Society to point out the damage done by rapacious advertising? They must have at least one enlightened heritage advocate in their midst. If not, the Society is ready to teach Globe.

Last year, I successfully got Globe and Smart not to post their banners on trees ever again. They have, despite a few indiscretions, complied with that agreement. And the country looks a little cleaner and more charming.

I have also noted that after a year of no more advertising posted on trees, that both cell phone companies continued reaping profits. It would be reasonable to deduce that both companies can stop all advertising banners and posters on lamp posts and electric posts and, perhaps, even billboards with no profit loss. If Globe instead had sponsored a tourism project of Pila Historical Society instead of littering the town with cancer-causing tarpaulins, would there be more tourists, more jobs, more Globe subscribers? It’s a no-brainer.

Heritage sites are primary tourism destinations in Thailand (11 million tourists a year), Singapore (7 million), and Malaysia’s (10 million). You do not see advertising banners marring their temples, churches, towns and old houses. I am convinced if we do the same, the measly two million tourist arrivals we get each year will increase substantially as visitors will finally see and revel in our heritage sites like that of quaint and gorgeous Pila, Laguna.

John L. Silva ([email protected]) is a member of the Heritage Conservation Society.

http://preservephilippineheritage.blogs.friendster.com/hcs/2005/08/pila_laguna_kee.html
 

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Pila, Laguna: Keeping a heritage site beautiful

By John L. Silva
July 2005

My story has a distressing beginning but a happy ending and lessons for us advocates of heritage preservation.

Visitors to the town of Pila, Laguna are amazed at its well preserved state. Dating back to 900 AD and founded by the Spaniards over 400 years ago, Pila retains its plaza with age-old trees, a gracious church and convent, an American period town hall building, and large stone houses around the square. Pila is cited and studied by historians from around the world as one of the few intact examples of Spanish colonial town planning.

There’s a museum with artifacts from a nearby archaeological site and one section of the plaza still has a free-flowing fountain. Tomas Pinpin printed the first Tagalog dictionary in Pila in 1613.

The Pila Historical Society Foundation with its current President Monina Rivera and its treasurer Cora Relova have over the years, been tireless in showing off this picturesque town to many local and foreign tourists. Five years ago, Cora secured National Historical Landmark status for the town from the National Historical Institute giving it a well-deserved distinction as well as safeguarding its pristine state. With that status, Cora was able to further improve the town and stop a yearly fair from camping on the plaza and transforming the place into a garbage and fecal dump.

In late July, Cora called, quite upset and angry. Globe had posted over forty banners of their ad materials on every lamp post on the plaza, and more banners on the main road leading to it, and on the national highway nearing the town. It was an advertising blitz from hell.

I drove over to Pila and in the pouring rain, saw the ad carnage that Globe had so insensitively done to the town. The pretty plaza was ruined aesthetically, the gracious old houses marred, and with rain making the banners sag, the once delightful town was transformed into a disgusting hovel.

Cora and I strategized how to have the posters immediately removed. First, we reviewed all the write-ups about the town so as to make a case that this was a heritage and tourist site. Second, we searched for allies in our address books who can get to the decision makers in Globe.

A stalwart Pila supporter and former Ayala Museum Director Sonia Ner, gave us a name in the marketing department. We called, the person was abroad and could help out after the weekend.

Cora and I couldn’t wait for a weekend. The offending banners were up, the town had become a tourist pariah, and Globe was destroying the town’s image.

I resorted to Plan B, an all out media broadside against Globe when Cora remembered another Pila supporter. Bea Zobel Jr. had written about the town in the Inquirer Lifestyle section and applauded its beauty. With a few text messages, Cora got to Bea and Bea immediately came to the rescue. An hour later, Archie Monzon of Globe’s corporate marketing department called and the offending posters were removed the next morning, six days after they were put up.

When I shared the happy news to friends, Maribel Ongpin, another heritage stalwart asked “What if there was no Bea?” She added “Don’t you think Globe would be intelligent enough not to mar a heritage site?”

And so, here are the lessons I am sharing for us as well as for Globe in the continuous battle to keep our country beautiful:
1. Heritage sites play an important role in remembering our past as well as generate much needed tourism revenue. They must be off limits to commercial advertising that ruin their charm and drive away tourists.
2. Action, and well planned at that, is better than whining. Cora picked up the phone, did her texting, e-mailed, threatened, cajoled, and found “The Tipping Point” in Bea Zobel. Cora fought not to get sympathy, but results.
3. Globe needs a course on heritage conservation. Why should the onus always be on the Heritage Conservation Society to point out the damage done by rapacious advertising? They must have at least one enlightened heritage advocate in their midst. If not, the Society is ready to teach Globe.

Last year, I successfully got Globe and Smart not to post their banners on trees ever again. They have, despite a few indiscretions, complied with that agreement. And the country looks a little cleaner and more charming.

I have also noted that after a year of no more advertising posted on trees, that both cell phone companies continued reaping profits. It would be reasonable to deduce that both companies can stop all advertising banners and posters on lamp posts and electric posts and, perhaps, even billboards with no profit loss. If Globe instead had sponsored a tourism project of Pila Historical Society instead of littering the town with cancer-causing tarpaulins, would there be more tourists, more jobs, more Globe subscribers? It’s a no-brainer.

Heritage sites are primary tourism destinations in Thailand (11 million tourists a year), Singapore (7 million), and Malaysia’s (10 million). You do not see advertising banners marring their temples, churches, towns and old houses. I am convinced if we do the same, the measly two million tourist arrivals we get each year will increase substantially as visitors will finally see and revel in our heritage sites like that of quaint and gorgeous Pila, Laguna.

John L. Silva ([email protected]) is a member of the Heritage Conservation Society.

http://preservephilippineheritage.blogs.friendster.com/hcs/2005/08/pila_laguna_kee.html
 

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The Original is The Best
Joined
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6,408 Posts
Media Exposure

From Glad Mad Sad thread:

ncbmandy said:
GLAD nabasa ko pangalan ni Jepoy (wonderboy) sa Manila Times. Here is the Article :) Go Jepoy..

Rizal Avenue landmark gone

By Katrice R. Jalbuena, Researcher

IN downtown Manila several buildings, considered as major works of art created by two National Artists, stand forgotten, abandoned and in danger of being lost forever.

Many Manilans remember Rizal Avenue as the center of city’s social life. The stretch of Rizal Avenue, from Plaza Goiti to Claro M. Recto, was the Greenbelt or Glorietta of the post-World War II era. The avenue was lined with shops, restaurants and movie theaters.

Unlike the megaplexes and cineplexes in today’s malls, the cinemas of Rizal Avenue were not part of a homogeneous development plan. They were attractions by themselves, designed by some of the premier architects of the day.

Two National Artists for Architecture left their imprint on Rizal Avenue. Pablo Antonio created the Galaxy, the Ideal, the Scala and the Lyric theaters. Juan Nakpil conceived the Capitol, the Ever and also designed the Avenue Theater.

Built in the 1930s, the Avenue towered over its surroundings, housing not only the cinema but also a hotel, various shops and small offices. It was one of the few buildings in the area to survive the devastation that followed Japanese and American bombardment during the end of the war.

The theater survived the war only to fall victim to urban renewal. The art deco masterpiece, considered a showcase of Nakpil’s unique blending of foreign influences such as Art Deco and International Modern Style with his own Filipino tastes and sensibility, the Avenue will be demolished and the lot transformed into a parking area before the year is over.

The dismantling of the building began last week. Already the crown, with a bas relief of a woman, is gone. The building’s front is draped with a green net to prevent dust and debris from falling on passersby. The columns and palm fronds are obscured by aluminum sheeting.

An unprofitable venture

“The owners really feel that it is more profitable for them to tear the building down,” says Jeffrey Yap, a volunteer of the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS).

Realty taxes for a parking lot, it turns out, are smaller than for an intact building or vacant lot. Yap tried to get in touch with the owner, Eduardo Linton Jua, who also runs a shipping company.

“I think I talked to his wife, or some other female relative.” Yap said. “She was very nice and accommodating but firm. The decision had been made to demolish it as they didn’t have the money to maintain it.

“She told me, ‘I’m sorry hijo, there is nothing you can do. Nakakahiya na sa mga contractors if we stop the demolition,’” Jeff said.

Period of decline

The decline of Rizal Avenue as Manila’s downtown is blamed on the construction of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) in the 1980s.

The overhead railway was meant to ease traffic on Rizal and Taft avenues. It may have but it also killed business along the street.

The construction of the LRT itself was a huge inconvenience for those who used to frequent the area. The place never recovered the glamour it once enjoyed. Shoppers and strollers moved to the malls and arcades popping up in the Ortigas Center in Pasig City and in Makati. Rizal Avenue became dingy and dangerous.

The cinemas held out for a while, showing mainly double feature B-movies and soft porn. Eventually, they, too, succumbed to the growing disrepute of the place.

In the year 2000 Mayor Lito Atienza tried to reenergize business on Rizal Avenue by encouraging “pedestrianiza*tion,” an approach to urban renewal that had been implemented successfully in Singapore, Kuala Lampur, Beijing, Shanghai and other Asian cities. The basic principle was to make Rizal Avenue a street for strolling.

The city government paved the area from the length of Carlos Palanca to Claro. M. Recto, creating a “city walk,” a series of plazas and broad sidewalks. The buildings were cleaned and painted. Even the LRT was painted, its columns decorated with tiles in geometric patterns. This brought the area of Carriedo back to life. Unfortunately, this renewal did not reach the length of Rizal Avenue.

Several other theaters still stand, long past their day of glory. Antonio’s Ideal Theater has been demolished but the Galaxy is now an empty shell of a building. So are the Scala and the Lyric.

The ground floor of the Ever is occupied by small stalls. The rest of the building is abandoned and no attempt has been made to spruce up the façade.

The Capitol is the one bright spot. An example of adaptive reuse, the owners have spruced up the façade and cleaned it. No longer a theater but a dimsum palace, according to Yap, the owners are proud of the history and beauty of the structure and have taken pains to keep it attractive to attract business.

Preserving our heritage

“The Avenue Theater is an important testament and example of Filipino genius,” says Architect Richard Tuason-Sanchez Bautista of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. “Juan Nakpil is the first National Artist for Architecture. Architecture is a fragile art form in the sense that it is hard to reproduce. You cannot reprint it or reperform it. Once a building is gone, the beauty of the architecture is lost.”

“The National Historical Institute [NHI] is the government office mandated to undertake the preservation and conservation works on historic sites and structures,” Architect Louisa Valerio, of the Historical Preservation Division of the NHI, said.

The NHI also sees to the implementation of Presidential Decree 1505, which bans the alteration of original features of historical sites and structures.

“We can provide technical assistance for restoration and rehabilitation. However, when dealing with private property, we can not force someone to let us declare a building a historical site. Neither can we prevent a Local Government Unit from issuing the permits that would allow people to renovate or demolish a building.”

The NHI is working on developing a database of historical sites all over the Philippines. But it is saddled by a lack of manpower and funds, also by uncooperative landowners and local governments.

“We hope that more property owners will be open to the idea of adaptive reuse. Once a building is a historical site that does not mean they can’t use it. We just ask that they preserve the façade and the basic structure,” Valerio said.

Admittedly, many people find preserving an old building more trouble then it is worth. Executive Order 226 gives only an income-tax holiday of four years and a 50-percent deduction on labor expenses for any work done on the site for the first five years. After that, there seems to be no more additional benefits that might encourage someone to maintain a historical building.

The Fate of the Avenue Theater

Members of the HCS are on a frantic campaign to try and get the theater saved. Conservationists Ivan Henares and Carlos Celdran, who through walking tours have shown that appreciation of historical sites can be a commercially lucrative as well as culturally rewarding business, have also been appealing through their respective blogs and networks.

Skyscrapercity Philippines, an on-line forum of urban architecture enthusiasts, have also gotten on the job.

As of last week e-mails, letters and fax have been sent to Representatives Edmundo O. Reyes Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, and Edgar M. Chatto, chairman of the Committee on Tourism.

“Ownership of these structures of historical significant are imbued with responsibility and recognition of their importance in preserving the historical reminders of our beauty and pride as a nation of our culture,” the campaigners said.

Bautista said the lack of appreciation for historical structures hastens their demise. “People don’t recognize the value of these structures. They are examples of how we evolved as a people. They stand there are representations of how we did things back then and how we do things now. When people realize this, when they take pride in this, then they will take care of these structures.”
 

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The Original is The Best
Joined
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6,408 Posts
Media Exposure

From Glad Mad Sad thread:

ncbmandy said:
GLAD nabasa ko pangalan ni Jepoy (wonderboy) sa Manila Times. Here is the Article :) Go Jepoy..

Rizal Avenue landmark gone

By Katrice R. Jalbuena, Researcher

IN downtown Manila several buildings, considered as major works of art created by two National Artists, stand forgotten, abandoned and in danger of being lost forever.

Many Manilans remember Rizal Avenue as the center of city’s social life. The stretch of Rizal Avenue, from Plaza Goiti to Claro M. Recto, was the Greenbelt or Glorietta of the post-World War II era. The avenue was lined with shops, restaurants and movie theaters.

Unlike the megaplexes and cineplexes in today’s malls, the cinemas of Rizal Avenue were not part of a homogeneous development plan. They were attractions by themselves, designed by some of the premier architects of the day.

Two National Artists for Architecture left their imprint on Rizal Avenue. Pablo Antonio created the Galaxy, the Ideal, the Scala and the Lyric theaters. Juan Nakpil conceived the Capitol, the Ever and also designed the Avenue Theater.

Built in the 1930s, the Avenue towered over its surroundings, housing not only the cinema but also a hotel, various shops and small offices. It was one of the few buildings in the area to survive the devastation that followed Japanese and American bombardment during the end of the war.

The theater survived the war only to fall victim to urban renewal. The art deco masterpiece, considered a showcase of Nakpil’s unique blending of foreign influences such as Art Deco and International Modern Style with his own Filipino tastes and sensibility, the Avenue will be demolished and the lot transformed into a parking area before the year is over.

The dismantling of the building began last week. Already the crown, with a bas relief of a woman, is gone. The building’s front is draped with a green net to prevent dust and debris from falling on passersby. The columns and palm fronds are obscured by aluminum sheeting.

An unprofitable venture

“The owners really feel that it is more profitable for them to tear the building down,” says Jeffrey Yap, a volunteer of the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS).

Realty taxes for a parking lot, it turns out, are smaller than for an intact building or vacant lot. Yap tried to get in touch with the owner, Eduardo Linton Jua, who also runs a shipping company.

“I think I talked to his wife, or some other female relative.” Yap said. “She was very nice and accommodating but firm. The decision had been made to demolish it as they didn’t have the money to maintain it.

“She told me, ‘I’m sorry hijo, there is nothing you can do. Nakakahiya na sa mga contractors if we stop the demolition,’” Jeff said.

Period of decline

The decline of Rizal Avenue as Manila’s downtown is blamed on the construction of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) in the 1980s.

The overhead railway was meant to ease traffic on Rizal and Taft avenues. It may have but it also killed business along the street.

The construction of the LRT itself was a huge inconvenience for those who used to frequent the area. The place never recovered the glamour it once enjoyed. Shoppers and strollers moved to the malls and arcades popping up in the Ortigas Center in Pasig City and in Makati. Rizal Avenue became dingy and dangerous.

The cinemas held out for a while, showing mainly double feature B-movies and soft porn. Eventually, they, too, succumbed to the growing disrepute of the place.

In the year 2000 Mayor Lito Atienza tried to reenergize business on Rizal Avenue by encouraging “pedestrianiza*tion,” an approach to urban renewal that had been implemented successfully in Singapore, Kuala Lampur, Beijing, Shanghai and other Asian cities. The basic principle was to make Rizal Avenue a street for strolling.

The city government paved the area from the length of Carlos Palanca to Claro. M. Recto, creating a “city walk,” a series of plazas and broad sidewalks. The buildings were cleaned and painted. Even the LRT was painted, its columns decorated with tiles in geometric patterns. This brought the area of Carriedo back to life. Unfortunately, this renewal did not reach the length of Rizal Avenue.

Several other theaters still stand, long past their day of glory. Antonio’s Ideal Theater has been demolished but the Galaxy is now an empty shell of a building. So are the Scala and the Lyric.

The ground floor of the Ever is occupied by small stalls. The rest of the building is abandoned and no attempt has been made to spruce up the façade.

The Capitol is the one bright spot. An example of adaptive reuse, the owners have spruced up the façade and cleaned it. No longer a theater but a dimsum palace, according to Yap, the owners are proud of the history and beauty of the structure and have taken pains to keep it attractive to attract business.

Preserving our heritage

“The Avenue Theater is an important testament and example of Filipino genius,” says Architect Richard Tuason-Sanchez Bautista of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. “Juan Nakpil is the first National Artist for Architecture. Architecture is a fragile art form in the sense that it is hard to reproduce. You cannot reprint it or reperform it. Once a building is gone, the beauty of the architecture is lost.”

“The National Historical Institute [NHI] is the government office mandated to undertake the preservation and conservation works on historic sites and structures,” Architect Louisa Valerio, of the Historical Preservation Division of the NHI, said.

The NHI also sees to the implementation of Presidential Decree 1505, which bans the alteration of original features of historical sites and structures.

“We can provide technical assistance for restoration and rehabilitation. However, when dealing with private property, we can not force someone to let us declare a building a historical site. Neither can we prevent a Local Government Unit from issuing the permits that would allow people to renovate or demolish a building.”

The NHI is working on developing a database of historical sites all over the Philippines. But it is saddled by a lack of manpower and funds, also by uncooperative landowners and local governments.

“We hope that more property owners will be open to the idea of adaptive reuse. Once a building is a historical site that does not mean they can’t use it. We just ask that they preserve the façade and the basic structure,” Valerio said.

Admittedly, many people find preserving an old building more trouble then it is worth. Executive Order 226 gives only an income-tax holiday of four years and a 50-percent deduction on labor expenses for any work done on the site for the first five years. After that, there seems to be no more additional benefits that might encourage someone to maintain a historical building.

The Fate of the Avenue Theater

Members of the HCS are on a frantic campaign to try and get the theater saved. Conservationists Ivan Henares and Carlos Celdran, who through walking tours have shown that appreciation of historical sites can be a commercially lucrative as well as culturally rewarding business, have also been appealing through their respective blogs and networks.

Skyscrapercity Philippines, an on-line forum of urban architecture enthusiasts, have also gotten on the job.

As of last week e-mails, letters and fax have been sent to Representatives Edmundo O. Reyes Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, and Edgar M. Chatto, chairman of the Committee on Tourism.

“Ownership of these structures of historical significant are imbued with responsibility and recognition of their importance in preserving the historical reminders of our beauty and pride as a nation of our culture,” the campaigners said.

Bautista said the lack of appreciation for historical structures hastens their demise. “People don’t recognize the value of these structures. They are examples of how we evolved as a people. They stand there are representations of how we did things back then and how we do things now. When people realize this, when they take pride in this, then they will take care of these structures.”
 

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The Original is The Best
Joined
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6,408 Posts
For what it's worth, if we can get that media mileage, then we should actually really concentrate our energies into worthwhile causes like this Heritage conversation/conservation as well as the protection of the La Mesa Dam.

Kudos for all the work of our very own Jeffrey Yap, Ivan Henares and Carlos Celdran. It is not a thankless job. We are here to support your worthy causes. SSCers unite! Let us show our support to them and show that we are not all talk, but we can also walk our talk.
 

·
The Original is The Best
Joined
·
6,408 Posts
For what it's worth, if we can get that media mileage, then we should actually really concentrate our energies into worthwhile causes like this Heritage conversation/conservation as well as the protection of the La Mesa Dam.

Kudos for all the work of our very own Jeffrey Yap, Ivan Henares and Carlos Celdran. It is not a thankless job. We are here to support your worthy causes. SSCers unite! Let us show our support to them and show that we are not all talk, but we can also walk our talk.
 
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