Historical commission questions Mabolo road wideningBy Doris C. Bongcac
Cebu Daily News
Public works officials were asked to spare two century-old ancestral houses from damage if road widening starts along M.J. Cuenco Avenue in Cebu City.
The wooden structures owned by Dominga Querubin and Nasersas Macasero should be “preserved” in compliance with Republic Act 10066 or the National Heritage Act of 2009, said Dr. Maria Serena Diokno, chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) in a a June 26 letter.
Under Section 5 of the Act, structures aged 50 years or more should be considered Important Cultural Property (ICP) and should be protected from exploitation, modification or demolition.
“In this light, may we invite you to a coordination meeting with NHCP to address the concerns of heritage house owners in Mabolo, Cebu City….” Diokno said in a letter to Engr. Giberto Reyes of the Bureau of Design of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Central Office in Manila.
The proposed road widening by DPWH aims to ease traffic, which is heavy in this main thoroughfare in barangay Mabolo. But it is also a preparation for the rise of one of two controversial flyovers, projects endorsed by Cebu City Rep. Rachel “Cutie” del Mar and her father Raul, former congressman.
A similar flyover planned for Gorordo Avenue last year was suspended when critics cited the heritage value of the Asilo dela Milagrosa shrine, which is over 50 years old. The compound would be pushed back several meters by the road setback and the view of the church obstructed by the massive structure.
Diokno wrote the DPWH in response to a letter sent by Mabolo resident Jerry Gloria, owner of the Mabolo Bam-i House, who said that while she and her neighbors don’t oppose the road widening project, they wanted assurance that old structures in their area will be preserved.
There are five pre-war houses along M. J. Cuenco Avenue from the corner of barangay Hipodromo to C. Mina Street beside the Mabolo church.
The houses of Querubin and Macasero are more than 100 years old.
The three other ancestral houses owned by the Velasquez, Teves and Ancajas families are between 80 to 90 years old.
Since last month, the DPWH Central Visayas office and the del Mars have been meeting with 26 property and structure owners affected by the P180 million road widening project.
Households and business owners complained about how large the road cuts would affect their property, with some protesting that the design placed those on one side of the national road at a disadvantage.
Adjustments were made in setting the boundaries after a petition was signed by residents asking that the center point of the road be taken as base point in widening both sides to achieve an equal number of meters from each side for the road widening project.
Copies of the petition were already sent to del Mar and Cebu City mayor Michael Rama.
Petitioners also asked the government to consider how the road widening would affect five buildings aged 80 years and more and some trees.
Macasero’s two-storey ancestral house on the corner of M. J. Cuenco and L. Tudtud Street was used as a hospital during World War II. It was later used as an extension of the Mabolo public elementary school.
At present, the ground floor is used as a display area for bricks. The second floor is used as a residence.
The frontage of the Ancajas ancestral home would be affected, with the loss of at least 12 large old trees.
“The trees along the left side of M. J. Cuenco Avenue should be spared and protected from this road widening. These trees provide shades for pedestrians and motorists along M. J. Cuenco Avenue. Let us not cut it,” said the one-page petition.
Raul del Mar said he and his daughter, Cutie, are aware of the residents’ concerns.
“This is exactly the reason why we are making continuous consultations with the property owners because we want to address all of their concerns as much as possible. We are trying out best to reduce the damage if not spare especially the old structures,” he said.
Del Mar said there was no hurry in implementing the road widening project.