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Lim urged: Stop wrecking Manila heritage buildings

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Hold the wrecking ball.

Heritage conservationists have asked Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim to stop the impending demolition of the old Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) building right next to the city hall, as well as that of two Spanish-era structures in the Binondo area.

In a May 8 letter to Lim, the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS) said the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 (Republic Act No. 10066) states that the modification or demolition of properties aged 50 years old and above needs the consent of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

“That means that this year, buildings built in 1962 or earlier are protected by law and that the NCCA needs to evaluate its significance first before a permit (to demolish) is granted, if ever it is granted,” HCS said through its vice president Ivan Henares, a travel writer and tourism consultant.

HCS president and former tourism secretary Gemma Cruz-Araneta, whom Lim appointed as cultural adviser, is also against the demolition of the old GSIS building. The campaign to save the structure has also gone online through an e-mail drive and a Facebook page.

Located on Arroceros Street, the old GSIS building was designed by architect Federico Ilustre and was constructed between 1952 and 1954.

Ilustre was also the designer of the main building of Manila International Airport, the Philippine College of Commerce compound in Sta. Mesa, Manila, and the Quezon Memorial Monument.

The GSIS building used to house the main office of the then Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, and of the Office of the Ombudsman. Some of its outer rooms currently house the office of city election officers and several branches of the metropolitan trial court.

Henares had also written about the campaign to save the building on his blog: “[It is virtually] abandoned and needing repair, but still a beautiful, elegant and intelligent response to climate and site, eminently suitable via adaptive reuse for whatever new purpose comes to bear.”

Another blogger, theurbanhistorian, said “the building symbolizes the start of the shift of civic architecture (in the country) from its neoclassical-colonial trappings to the development of a separate Philippine modern architecture.”

In its letter to Lim, the HCS also said it had received word that

old structures in Binondo, particularly a house on 529 Elcano St., and another on Jaboneros corner Camba streets, were also being demolished.

“Aside from being built during the Spanish colonial period and surviving the Second World War, the details of these houses may be architecturally significant,” the group added.

The HCS said the demolition of the Binondo houses should be “halted immediately before any more damage is done to them.”

The HCS also found it “bewildering” that the city’s building official had been issuing these permits for the demolition of prewar heritage sites without the written approval of the NCCA.

“As we all know, ignorance of the law excuses no one. Or as the good mayor puts it, ‘The law applies to all, otherwise, (to) none at all!’ In Manila’s case, looks like it’s ‘none at all,’” it said.

The HCS said the planned demolitions would add to the “long list” of heritage sites that had disappeared in Manila in the first half of the year alone.

Among the most significant of these were the old Meralco head office building on San Marcelino Street and the Laperal apartments on Recto Avenue, the HCS added.

Trixie Angeles, legal counsel of the NCCA, said the body had not received any communication from the Manila city government about the impending demolition.

“Considering that Gemma Cruz-Araneta is Mayor Lim’s adviser on cultural matters, we are confident that the mayor will comply with RA 10066,”

Angeles told the Inquirer.

The law empowers the NCCA or its member agencies to deputize the police and other law enforcement agencies to stop a demolition.


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Tags: Culture , heritage , Manila , old GSIS building , Philippines – Metro , Spanish-era houses


  • manggoding

    I support the halt of demolition.
    Preservation is the key. Those buildings are culture icon that connect us from the past.
    They are beauty to behold and ancient to cherish.
    Mayor Lim should first demolish the shanties that are really eyesores.

    • daniboy2012

      What you mean?..everything in manila are eyesores.

      • Carlol

         let me quote joeyrivera above: “No country in the world is worth its salt without preserving part of its history and heritage.”

        Now, I direct this to daniboy2012

        Again, you would rather “destroy” rather than preserve our cultural
        heritage. History and identity are part and parcel of the Filipino,
        whether or not they come as a result of our colonial history.

        In the end, if you promote this mindset, you are only promoting the
        denial of what has happened in our historical, cultural past, which is a
        greater crime and injustice to our forefathers. Societies keep
        significant structures so that they, and their children can be reminded
        of their history and identity, how they came to be, and the values they
        have fought on to preserve. If you cannot appreciate the value of such a
        worthy pursuit, will not understand how it is important to preserve
        heritage buildings.

        Destruction does not promote a proactive mindset, a characteristic
        people tend to throw aside in favour of brash, unguided solutions.

      • daniboy2012

        Yes I woud rather destroy them than preserving them..I am not promoting denial if you want to preserve them present them as horror reminder like nazi concentration camp like  Auschwitz and Dachau. I despise it when historian presents this colonial heritage as golden days. Our history must be re-written not to appreciate this old mockery structures. I did my research well, I am not blind, my mind is free from foreign deceptions and lies. Foreigners who rape, ravage, force their false religions and idealogies to us must not be part of our children childrens heritage ….Destruction is needed for renewal…a new beginning, our very own from pre -christian and pre-islam.

      • joeyrivera

        Daniboy2012 still clings to an antiquated set of mentality. Look at the least developed countries of the world, they are the ones who are still with the mind set of eons ago. We Filipinos, immersed in our Spanish, American, Japanese and Chinese heritage are a lot better people because we are more open-minded comparable if not better with the more developed countries of the world.

      • daniboy2012

        …you’re mindset is beyond repair.

  • JB Pil

    Kahit ano pa sabihin kay Atienza, mas maayos pa din tingnan ang Maynila nung panahon nya

    • daniboy2012

      I agree.

    • pakita_ko_sayo

      Ok ang ginawa ni Atin Siya, kaya lang the corruption is so rampant sa pagpapaganda. Hindi na hinabol ni Law Applies to All si Atin Siya kasi nga, magnanakaw na rin siya

  • daniboy2012

    Mayor Lim..ok yan gibain lahat ng mga bulok at mga delikadong buildings at mga bahaysa manila ….mababaho at hindi na bahay tao ..mga bahay na nang mga daga.

    • joeyrivera

       You don’t have a hint of appreciation of ancient history…The first thing we should do is to preserve these historic buildings as part of the Filipino history,culture and heritage.

      • daniboy2012

        Ancient history what???…those are not ancient, those are old and wreck building with  spaniard and american architecture…..Those are not  our heritage, you better read again our history, all the way back to pre-christian and pre-Islam..THAT IS OUR HERITAGE, WE ARE AUSTRONESIANS!!!….as far as the  spaniards and american building are concern…all should be demolish, they only remind us our oppression. …joey we got more than this relics.

      • joeyrivera

         I just hope you don’t drive Japanese car or buy Chinese goods, I doubt it because most of the product sold around the world are either Japanese or Chinese, both Filipino oppressors. If you stuck to your Austronesian heritage I’m sure you will not be wearing an underwear or pants right now. Spanish and American architecture whether you like it or not is part of our heritage. The buildings are a wreck because no preservation effort was exerted by Filipinos. No country in the world is worth its salt without preserving part of its history and heritage.

      • daniboy2012

        You’re way out of tune…..we are talking about old structures and you talking about your underwear.  What’s the difference between our Autronesian heritage and now…you wear tong, spandex and see-through ..right!….You can shove in your throat those two heritage, your mind still a slave….Philippines is divisive because  of those foreign poisons. You can continue loving your slave heritage, thats you…but not for most of us…WE ARE FREE!!

      • TomasRosario

        Everything from today, to the Manungul Jar and beyond is part of or so called heritage.

      • daniboy2012

        I disagree Mang Tomas

      • daniboy2012

        Joey those are not ancient boy..ancient is like before the fall of the Roman Empire…Those Building being demolish by Mayor are old spanish and american buildings, they have nothing to do with our heritage and culture. History maybe they are symbols of our oppression particulary the spaniards. We got nothing to cherish during those evil times.

    • pakita_ko_sayo

       Wala itong taong ito. Yan ang pag iisip ng majority ng kabataan ngayon, baluktot.

      • daniboy2012

        Mali ka..papakita ko sayo…ang sinulat ko lahat ng mababaho, bulok at delikado na building..kung tinutukoy mo yung mga lumang at bulok na bahay mula pa nong panahon ng mg amerikano at kastila….kung ako  lang ang masusunod hindi lang gibain..sunugin ko pa ..para di na maalala ng susunod henerasyon and kahayupan na ginawa sa’ting mga ninuno ng mga mananakop at malulupit na mga dayuhan. Walang dapat mahalin bahay man o kahit anong bagay na nakapagpapaalala sa ating kaapihan……sana nalinawan at naipakita ko sa’yo. Ang mga  kabataan ngayon ay mulat na ang mga pagiisip, hindi baluktot gaya ng sabi mo…ikaw ang nabubuhay sa nakaraan….umalis na ang amo mo pero alipin ka parin sa pagiisip.

  • Gene_Abril

    What the heck? Look what they have done to Intramuros, allowing all those tall modern buldings!?! Yeah, go ahead and demolish them all down, destroy them all. So typically Filipino, no respect for history! Also, cut all old trees down. What the heck. Give in to commerce, to Henry sy!

    • daniboy2012

      Inasmuch I don’t like the Chinese Sy…what history should we respect?..Intramuros built by the spaniards and  a lot of Filipinos got killed  there or the  last stand of the japanese…..we should not glorify  these  oppressors structures.

      • joeyrivera

         Would you believe Jews drive German built cars.

      • daniboy2012

        I do today if that what you meant, but not German built cars during the NAZI.

  • bagombong

    Dito sa Wash. DC, they never demolished old structure..they preserved the old look and fix all the damages..only inside plan to revised but the outer look still the same…

    • daniboy2012

      Phil is not US…most old buildings are beyond repair and threat to human life.

      • joeyrivera

         I agree with Bagombong..we too preserve and designate historic buildings in Canada. In downtown Toronto you can not count on your 2 hands how many historic buildings we have, restored to their glory days. One developer was building a condo downtown and when they were digging they began to unearth some relics. Their job was suspended and were told they can not build over the area.

  • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

    ‘Trixie Angeles, legal counsel of the NCCA, said the body had not received any communication from the Manila city government about the impending demolition’

    itong klaseng attitude
    kaya nangyayari ang mga ito

    bulag pipi at bingi
    ang ncca at nhi

    nagpapalaki lang ng mga pwet
    sa kanilang upuan
    sa aircon nilang opisina

    bakit nga naman
    sa katapusan
    susweldo rin
    kahit walang nagawa

    be proactive ladies

  • sacrebleau

    Once again I made bumbling idiots out of the Corona boys. I am done. Au revoir! Haha!

  • allandel

    tapos sasabihin natin na bulok ang maynila? you have to replace the old with the new because it is a sign of progress. saan naman pupunta si lim, kung tutoo ngang alam nya ang nangyayari?

    i agree very much that we should preserve our heritage but regarding old buildings, i don’t think all the buildings are worth saving. kita nyo naman ang design ng maynila, maliliit ang kalsada at karamihan, laluna sa sampaloc, ang sidewalks are gone and some residents even use the street as their garages.

    • daniboy2012

      Al…bulok na bulok na ang manila,  halos lahat ng mga building at mga bahay…bahay daga na…parang war zone pag dumadaan ako galing airport passing quiapo all the way to laloma.
      The city of manila and its officials must sit down  and scale a new plan for new buildings, houses, etc.  Manila looks like a ghetto or is it.

    • http://alasfilipinas.blogspot.com/ Pepe Alas

      In my opinion, the
      National Cultural Heritage Act actually serves as a “buffer” for any plans to demolish cultural sites. You see, it is very difficult to monitor heritage structures throughout the country. But once a demolition will occur, the permit that will be requested from the municipal office / city hall will signal heritage conservationists if the building in question merits any kind of protection.

  • Kevin Borillo

    YES! Napigilan din! Pangit man ang mga yan, e pwede namang ayusin e. May mga tinatawag tayong Architect. Kapag pinagpatuloy ang pag-demolish sa mga yan e wala nang mapag-aaralan ang mga katulad kong estudyante ng arkitektura. Importante yang mga gusaling yan dahil parte yan ng ating pagkakakilanlan, ng ating kultura. Naging pangit lang naman yang mga yan dahil napabayaan. Sige tanggalin niyo yang mga structures na yan, paano naman ang mga heritage students na gustong pag-aralan ang mga gusaling yan? Gusto niyo bang sa libro na lang makita yan? Sa mga gusaling yan makikita ang pag-unlad ng Pilipinas sa iba’t-ibang panahon, ang pagiging kakaiba ng arkitektura ng Pilipinas mula sa ibang bansa. Alam ko hindi niyo naiintindihan ang sinasabi ko dahil hindi kayo nag-aaral ng arkitektura. Pero para sa amin, napakaimportante ng mga gusaling yan. Salamat sa pagbasa. :)

    • daniboy2012

      kevin..magbasa ka pa…yang architecture na yan  hindi mawawala dahil mga dayuhan yan…check their archives makakita ka…hindi natin heritage ang mga pinaggagawa ng mga kastila at mga amerikano….mga tanda yan nang pang aalipin satin….matanong kita pang me nagnakaw at nagsamantala sayo sa bahay nila…gagawin mo pa bang heritage ang bahat nayon? isang kabaliwan yon



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