Iloilo City mayor defends demolition of historic market façade

Iloilo City mayor defends demolition of historic market façade

/ 05:02 AM April 25, 2024

Iloilo City mayor defends demolition of historic market facade

LANDMARK This 2013 photo shows the Iloilo City Public Market, commonly known as the Iloilo Central Market, a popular destination in the city with its array of stalls offering assorted goods. In February, the market’s iconic facade was demolished to give way to the area’s redevelopment. NEREO LUJAN/CONTRIBUTOR

ILOILO CITY, Philippines — Mayor Jerry Treñas defended the demolition of an 80-year-old art deco façade of the Iloilo City public market, known here as Central Market, which was considered by locals as an important piece of the city’s history.

Treñas on Monday said the city had no choice but to demolish it after the Office of the Building Official declared that it was no longer safe to keep it due to its poor structural integrity.


He said they also secured the approval of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) before it was demolished in February.


READ: Iloilo City asks NHCP help in preserving heritage structures after fire

The Iloilo City public market was opened to the public on Jan. 15, 1912, but its art deco façade was built later in 1938. The market is a popular destination for both residents and tourists with its array of stalls offering not only fresh products, but also native delicacies, ‘pasalubong’ (gifts), traditional medicine, coffee, condiments, baked goods and affordable meals.

The city’s cultural property inventory describes the Central Market as an “integral part of the old business district of Iloilo City.”

The market is also part of the Iloilo City Central Business District at the city’s downtown area, flanking other heritage structures existing since the Spanish and American colonial periods. It was designated as a Cultural Tourism Heritage Zone in 2013 and a Historic Center through NHCP Resolution No. 3 series of 2014.

The market was first renovated during the term of Acting Mayor Rosa Caram from 1986 to 1987.

The Central Market and the Iloilo Terminal Market, the two biggest public markets in the city, are being rehabilitated through a public-private partnership.


The redevelopment, with a total project cost of P3 billion, is expected to be finished in December and aimed at boosting economic and tourism activities in the city, especially in the downtown area.

READ: NHCP eyes digitizing historical collections


Treñas said that to keep the original market facade, the first option was to retrofit but doing so would only result in thicker walls that would distort the original design.

He said they decided to take the other option, which was to reconstruct but following the architectural features and existing building footprint.

“This will ensure a safe structure. Adjustments will also be done on the height of the building because of current road elevation and to mitigate flooding,” the mayor said in a statement.

A letter from then NHCP Chair Rene Escalante dated Feb. 20, 2023 showed that the commission was amenable to the development plans for the Central Market.

But the letter did not indicate the demolition of its facade or whether the commission approved it.

“Upon review of the documents and proposed development plans of the old lloilo Central Market, the [NHCP] is amenable to the project since it will restore the original architectural character of the old Iloilo Central Market,” Escalante said in the letter.

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City architect Regina Gregorio told the Inquirer that the demolition was done around the second week of February, following the recommendation of the city government’s Office of the Building Official with concurrence of the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council.

TAGS: Central Market, Iloilo City, NHCP

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