Architect says loss of ‘heritage value’ can merit legal action | Inquirer News

Architect says loss of ‘heritage value’ can merit legal action

/ 09:51 AM October 30, 2011

If the Gorordo Avenue flyover comes up, something precious will be lost—a clear view of the 70-year-old Asilo dela Milagrosa compound and its Shrine of the Miraculous Medal.

“Even if Cutie said the flyover would be adjusted, it would not make any difference. It still obstructs the heritage value of the building,” said Cebu architect Melva Java, referring to the assurance of Cebu City Rep. Rachel “Cutie” del Mar that the Asilo “would not be touched.”


Java, a committee member of the National Commission on  Cultural Arts (NCCA), said private stakeholders can take legal action to protect this Cebu landmark.

She said citizens can seek a a cease-and-desist order from the NCCA to halt  construction  based on Republic Act 10066 or the National Culture Heritage Act of 2009, which ensures the conservation and preservation of  monuments and structures of “important heritage value,” which includes structures more than 50 years old.


To show the impact of the proposed change, she simulated the flyover in a computer-assisted illustration with the church in the background. (See page 1.)

The Asilo dela Milagrosa was established in the 1940s as a charity house for orphans and abandoned babies.  The church was later built in 1954.

At present, a crisis center for youths, women and elderly members of indigent families, it remains one of Cebu’s most established charities.

The religious congregation in charge of the Asilo, which means “asylum,” and the Shrine of Our Lady of the  the Miraculous Medal have appealed for a “moratorium” on flyovers even as they got a temporary reprieve when Del Mar assured that work would start only after the Sinulog festival in January.

Yesterday, nuns in gray habits quietly mingled with churchgoers in a  dawn procession down Gorordo Avenue, their fifth in a series of Saturdays seeking divine aid and the “enlightenment” of public officials to stop the flyover project.

“We will not stop until the flyovers are stopped and a transport master plan for Cebu is made.  We will continue to pray publicly,” said Louella Alix, a Gorordo shop owner and core group member of the Movement for a Liveable Cebu, which is at the forefront of lobbying against additional flyovers.

Alix said that after the feast day, the dawn procession or “aurora” for the special intention of will run for nine Saturdays.


Alix is also an active member of the commission on heritage of the Cebu Archdiocese along with architect Java.

Asilo is set to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal on Nov. 17 to 28.

The feast, which will draw crowds of Marian devotees to the church, was one consideration of Del Mar in asking the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to reset the start of work by contractor WTG Construction from November to February 2012, after the Sinulog in January.

Along with another proposed flyover in M.J. Cuenco, which has been bidded out to WT Construction, the two concrete overpasses sponsored by Del Mar and her father, Raul, former House deputy speaker, will cost P600 million.

These will complement three other flyovers in the Banilad-Talamban corridor as part of the Del Mars’ vision of a network of seven flyovers to ease traffic in Cebu City’s north district.

The DPWH central office last week ordered all work on flyovers “held in abeyance” indefinitely in the wake of objections from various groups, including urban planners and traffic managers who said flyovers were a costly “Band-Aid” solution compared to road widening and flared intersections.

Secretary Rogelio Singson said he would find time to visit Cebu in November to hear the sentiments of affected parties.

Java, former dean of the University of San Carlos College of Architecture, agreed with faculty members who earlier issued a position paper calling for “urban planning” in Cebu and warning that flyovers “don’t belong in the core” of the city where it would worsen traffic congestion and hasten “urban decay.”

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama wrote to President Aquino in July  protesting the rise of flyovers that would prejudice Cebu’s standing as a “heritage city … rich in culture and a place of various historical events,” especially this part of barangay Lahug.

“Churches are visual markers of the past. We should allow them to continue,” said Java, in an interview.

She said that heritage sites like the Asilo dela Milagrosa should be protected from threats like visual obstruction and encroachments.

“Even if they move the flyovers away from Asilo, it would not make a difference,” said Java.

Other heritage sites that she said would be adversely affected are the campus of the Colegio de la Inmaculada, the Carreta cemetery in the historic town site of Mabolo, Camp Sotero Cabahug founded in the 1960s and and the American period campus of UP Cebu.

Java sits in the NCCA’s national committee on monuments and sites and is director of the USC’s  Conserviation of Heritage Research Institute and Workshop (Cherish).

She said the DPWH and other government agencies should coordinate with the NCCA to properly evaluate the impact of  infrastructure projects.

Java said the preservation of heritage sites, especially churches, is also protected by canon or Catholic Church law.  She also wrote about the impact of the proposed Gorordo flyover in her Oct. 8 column in Cebu Daily News.

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TAGS: Asilo compound, Construction, flyover, heritage site, Infrastructure
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