Sariaya council appeals to DPWH: Spare landmarks
LUCENA CITY, Philippines—After successfully saving the town’s antique houses from the government’s road-widening project, the Sariaya Heritage Council (SHC) again appealed to Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson to spare other historical landmarks from destruction.
On Friday, the SHC initiated an online petition on www.change.org, a popular website that hosts public petitions, to save the century-old public cemetery in Barangay (village) Sampaloc II from destruction to pave the way for the widening of Maharlika Highway.
On his Facebook page, Danny de Luna, SHC president, said one of the old tombs that would be affected belonged to one Briccio Reynoso, a Sariaya native who was a member of the Philippine basketball team in 1925.
The SHC, in its petition, also wanted to save a century-old kalachuchi tree in front of the cemetery.
The group also appealed to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to spare the 19th-century Spanish adobe masonry that was unearthed during the repair and construction of the narrow Que-anuang Bridge at the town’s entrance coming from Manila.
Citing the accounts of Spanish friar Fr. Felix Huertas, De Luna said the adobe bridge was one of the stone bridges that were built by Franciscan missionaries in their areas of mission in Laguna province, Tayabas (now Quezon province) and Nueva Caceres (now the Bicol region) during the Spanish period.
De Luna said that in one of Huertas’ narrative accounts, he mentioned the Sariaya stone bridge located in the west side of the town spanning the river called Cay-anuang.
“We petition the DPWH to save the surviving portions of adobe bricks by altering the bridge’s design to let people see this masonry as a historical relic,” the SHC said in the petition.
De Luna said ruins of the Spanish-period bridge were unearthed last month when DPWH workers uncovered the cemented portion of the bridge covering that had hidden the Spanish masonry and stone works since its reconstruction after the war, or sometime in the 1950s.
He said the site of the bridge should be considered a “heritage zone,” having served as a battleground between Filipino freedom fighters and the American regime in the late 1890s.
The bridge also served as witness to the battles between Filipino guerrillas and retreating Japanese forces during the last days of World War II, said De Luna.
The SHC described the threatened landmarks as “silent witnesses” to the unfolding of the town’s history and important icons of its colorful culture and heritage.
On July 2, Singson told all DPWH officials that the preservation of historical sites and structures should be incorporated into the designs or feasibility studies of road projects to avoid delays and changes.
He reminded DPWH executives to closely coordinate with the National Historical Institute, the National Museum and National Commission on Culture and the Arts in identifying historical landmarks to avoid damage to these during road construction.
Singson’s order was prompted by concerns that were raised by the SHC, which protested the planned road-widening project inside the town that would damage at least four ancestral houses.
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