NCCA orders stop to Makati landmark demolition | Inquirer News
Designed bY Nat’l Artist Locsin

NCCA orders stop to Makati landmark demolition

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:36 AM September 04, 2022
BDO Corporate Center’s South and North Towers in Makati City. STORY: NCCA orders stop to Makati landmark demolition

‘IMPORTANT CULTURAL PROPERTIES’ | That’s how the National Commission for Culture and the Arts describes BDO Corporate Center’s South and North Towers in Makati City, now covered for demolition in this photo taken Sept. 3. (Photo courtesy of Brutalist Pilipinas)

MANILA, Philippines — The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has issued a cease-and-desist order on the demolition of a landmark in the Central Business District of Makati that was designed by National Artist for Architecture Leandro V. Locsin.

The order was dated Aug. 17 but was disclosed on Facebook only on Friday by heritage advocates behind the brutalist.ph website and its social media accounts.

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Signed by NCCA Chair Rene Escalante, the order addressed to Nestor Tan, President and CEO of BDO-Unibank, was prompted by “information we received that there are developments or interventions on one of the [two] towers of BDO Corporate Center [or] the former PCI Bank Towers, located at Makati Avenue corner H.V. Dela Costa Street” in Salcedo Village, Barangay Bel Air.

Escalante noted that “[t]he BDO Corporate Center buildings are works of National Artist for Architecture Leandro V. Locsin, which is an intact example of [his] distinctive later phase architectural language.”

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‘Halfway demolished’

Thus the Center’s North and South Towers are “considered important cultural properties (ICPs) under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 10066,” he said, referring to the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

Escalante also cited Section 48 of that law, which “prohibits demolition, modification, or alteration of presumed ICPs.”

“Furthermore, we request you to clarify the developments concerning one of the towers of the BDO Corporate Center buildings,” he said.

Reached for comment, BDO corporate communications head Honey Reyes said “we don’t have a statement to share at this time.”

A post on Friday by Brutalist Pilipinas, the Facebook page of brutalist.ph, said the BDO Corporate Center’s South Tower was already “halfway demolished.”

Social media platforms by these heritage advocates are devoted to highlighting the architectural legacies in the country’s history and culture — including the modern style of brutalist architecture which saw popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly through the works of Locsin.

“We hope everyone will stay on the lookout for any developments regarding the BDO Corporate Towers and any heritage structures at risk,” the post read.

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It emphasized the significance of that landmark in the story of Philippine business and even art and culture.

The complex, then called the PCI Bank Towers, used to be the headquarters of Equitable PCI Bank before its merger with BDO in 2007.

Not delisted

The South Tower had a theater, the Francisco Santiago Hall, which was a popular venue for concerts, ballets and other performances.

On Dec. 6 last year, BDO-Unibank was granted Building Demolition Permit No. D12-21-0996. The bank did not issue a notice for the property to be delisted as an ICP, a requirement for demolition, according to RA 10066. “When will we finally realize the importance and role history and heritage plays in our present and future as a country? When we have finally erased all trace of it from existence?” the Brutalist Pilipinas post read.

The post also cited an earlier landmark by Locsin, the Benguet Center in Ortigas—where The Podium mall now stands—which was demolished in 2011.

More recently, the much admired Philam Life Building and Theater, which was built in 1961 and designed by renowned 1960s architect Carlos Arguelles, was demolished in 2020. The complex was bought by SM Investments in 2012.

PLDT request

In May this year, another Locsin-designed building made the news after the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Inc. (PLDT) requested the delisting of Ramon Cojuangco Building (RCB) on Makati Avenue as an ICP.

In its petition to the NCCA, PLDT said the building “does not demonstrate exceptional cultural, artistic and historical significance,” adding that “the actual condition of the RCB considerably differs from the distinctive style of LV Locsin.”

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PLDT wants Makati building off heritage list so it can redevelop site

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TAGS: BDO Corporate Center, Historical Sites, landmark buildings, Leandro V. Locsin, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, PCI Bank Towers, Rene Escalante
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