Heritage advocates make last-ditch attempt to save Taytay town hall | Inquirer News
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DEMOLITION OF ‘CULTURA L PROPERTY ’

Heritage advocates make last-ditch attempt to save Taytay town hall

/ 05:00 AM November 27, 2020

Heritage advocates and residents in Taytay, Rizal province, are racing against time to save their old municipal building from being demolished to give way to a new public hospital.

Taytay Advocates of Cultural Heritage (TACH) said the public was not consulted on the construction of the 200-bed Rizal Provincial Hospital System-Taytay Annex at the site where the 60-year-old municipal hall in Barangay Dolores stands.

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Though it’s no longer hosting most of the municipal offices, the building remains a local landmark, the group said.

In 2013, then Mayor Janet Mercado started the restoration of the building into an “ancestral home” for offices, such as a one-stop shop for microentrepreneurs. Plans were also afoot to turn the old town hall into a public library and a museum.

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The municipal government, however, started tearing down the structure last week.

PRESERVATION The demolition of the old town hall of Taytay in Rizal province has started despite calls from residents and heritage advocates to preserve the building. —PHOTO COURTESY OF TAYTAY ADVOCATES OF CULTURAL HERITAGE

Restoration

Local historian Jose Fernandez, a TACH member, said on Wednesday that the roof of the two-story building had been removed and the interior walls and floor were already taken out.

Fernandez said the site once housed Taytay’s first primary school way back in the early 1900s. “That makes the entire site—building, monument, every piece of material in the surrounding heritage [site] of the town—which endured 120 years,” he said in an online interview.

TACH said it was not against the construction of a hospital annex, especially during a pandemic, but it preferred another location for it to preserve the town’s “cultural heritage.”

Mark Valdez, municipal public information officer, on Wednesday said there was no official declaration that classified the building as a cultural heritage. In fact, he said, the old building was “condemned [and deemed] unsafe for use,” the same reason the local government’s offices moved to its present building in Barangay San Juan in 2008.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), in a Nov. 20 letter to Mayor George Ricardo Gacula II, said structures that were at least 50 years old were considered “important cultural properties,” unless declared otherwise by the commission, and were protected “from any untoward modification or demolition.”

Hospital site

NHCP Chair Rene Escalante asked the municipal engineering office “to look into this and coordinate with the NHCP for the preservation of Taytay’s local heritage structure.”

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“[W]e also encourage the municipal government … to declare local heritage sites, such as the said old municipal hall and ancestral home, to include these in their submission to the Philippine Registry of Important Cultural Property, and to spare all local heritage in light of the development work, for the further protection of local cultural properties,” the commission said.

TACH provided a copy of the NHCP letter to the Inquirer on Wednesday.

In a resolution in October 2019, the municipal council offered the property “in response [to] the request” of the Rizal provincial government for a place to build a hospital.

Valdez said the provincial government would shoulder the P100-million cost of constructing the hospital, while the municipal government would take charge of site clearing and road-use permits.

He said the local government was not required to conduct any public consultation on this matter.

“The reason the provincial government wanted [the hospital] there was its being the [town] center. By center, it means it is accessible even to [patients] coming from Cainta [town] or Antipolo [City],” he said.

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TAGS: heritage, municipal hall, Taytay
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