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Bid to save post office moves, Philippine Postal Corp.

THE CITY’S old post office has been enveloped by eateries, telecommunication stores and daily traffic jams. Built sometime in the 1920s, and rebuilt after World War II, the post office building is now the subject of a conservation drive. EV ESPIRITU/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

BAGUIO CITY—The Philippine Postal Corp. (PhilPost) said it would study a Baguio group’s proposal to preserve the summer capital’s old post office.

Postmaster General Josefina dela Cruz acknowledged that she had received several postcards sent on June 18 to draw attention to a campaign to exclude the American-era post office from a PhilPost plan to develop its Baguio property.

In a July 12 letter sent by “snail mail” to Joel Arthur Tibaldo, the government employee who began the campaign, Dela Cruz wrote: “Please be informed that we are evaluating your proposal to convert the Baguio City post office into a museum.”

Tibaldo and a few friends sent out the postcards to President Aquino and Dela Cruz through the regular mail after residents complained that the old post office had been neglected since the postal service moved to a new building that rose beside it.

To make the area profitable, PhilPost officials leased out portions of the old building to eateries and stores, while keeping the unit that leases out post office boxes inside the original building.

The post office has architectural features common during the American colonial era.

Researchers here could not establish the actual date of the post office’s construction but said it might have been put up in the 1920s. They said the structure might have been rebuilt after American bombers flattened the summer capital at the end of World War II.

The old post office remains a prime asset of PhilPost and may be offered to developers, said Marc Laurente, PhilPost spokesperson, during an interview in June, when he cited a business plan being outlined by the government firm.

The city government has been negotiating a land swap deal with PhilPost since 2010, hoping to save a park there, as well as the road called the Post Office Loop, because the new building housing the Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PostBank) stands on city government land, documents showed.

Councilor Isabelo Cosalan Jr., who has overseen the talks, said the continuing dialogue with PhilPost would provide the city government a chance to acquire the old post office building.

He said PhilPost owned the lot where the old and new post offices stand, as well as the post office park, a strip of land along Session Road and the road between the old post office and Baguio Cathedral.

In a June 2012 letter to the city government, Dela Cruz said PhilPost was willing to relinquish the park and a road fronting the bank in exchange for a special land patent that would grant it ownership of the PostBank lot.

Dela Cruz, however, said it might not give up the Post Office Loop.

Cosalan said the city council asked PhilPost to shed light on its plans. The council is scheduled to discuss the post office issue on July 29.

Tibaldo said residents continued to express support for the old post office’s preservation.

On Thursday, Grade 6 pupils and a special education class at  Bridges Tutorial and Learning Center toured the city’s old post office and sent letters to friends and relatives as a class exercise in the vanishing art of letter writing.

They also serenaded the city’s postal workers with the 1960s ditty, “Please Mister Postman.”

The children were introduced to the postal service for the first time—a communications facility that is now unfamiliar to their generation.

Encouraging the young to write and mail letters and making postal service profitable could discourage the commercialization of Baguio’s post office building,  Tibaldo said. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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Tags: Baguio , News , Post office , Regions

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