"Withering away" (contemporary) heritage for illusory "progress"
Tackling about old edifices, threats of demolition, development, and consideration
It was yesterday when this writer got concerned over a matter that involves heritage and progress, as the old GSIS building in Manila is to be demolish, taken that the city government had approved its signal to demolish that once proud structure.
Built in 1952, the old main office of the Government Service Insurance System served as one of the modern edifices built during post war. Made by one of the renouned architect Federico Ilustre, this Streamline Moderne edifice served every Filipino, especially government employees seeking benefits given by a government institution, also served as a reminder of a transition from neoclassical architecture to a modern one geared to the idea of progress Filipinos took upon to; however, through the years it fell upon to negligence until most tend to look and think upon as dilapidated and not to be rehabilitated despite its current purpose as part of a trial court in the City.
It is quite weird to think of why is the city government approved to demolish a structure that is need to be rehabilitated? Remembering the old Jai Alai being demolished out of mere reasons such as building a hall of justice, demolishing old yet reasonable structures out of mere, practical reasons is tantamount to acting on behalf of ignorance; especially that most tend to see modern edifices limited to shopping malls, condonimiums, office buildings, while limiting heritage in Spanish-era Churches and houses, how about those being built pre-war (sorry for the term but this also meant made during the American era) and post-war? Especially the ones contributed to the development not just in Manila but in the whole country itself?
Perhaps, to others, they rather not to think of it, and if there is it is a matter of aesthetics such as being condemned, full of cracks, no aesthetic value or just plain and simple apathy whose mind is imilted to work only to buy and consume. It is strange rather, that in midst of growing development lies forgetfulness in the capital.
Remember Jai Alai? Avenue? Galaxy? These edifices fell down under the wrecker's ball while most tend to look at Manila rather as old houses, old churches, Escolta, even at Escolta there are modern edifices being built in place of archaic yet beautiful ones such as la Botica Boie and the Crystal Arcade. Avenida Rizal's Avenue theatre, despite survived during the war, end up demolished in favor of having a pub stood on its place, same as the Galaxy theatre for a parking lot. Such edifices made pre, or even post-war rather require rehabilitation and consideration as part of step by step development in the Metro such as the Capital itself.
Been a writer and artist for years, these events rather put the blame on those who think development is made rather to expand markets for foreign investors than to usher renaissance of self reliance the way people urged others to persevere and self sustaining. The old yet reasonable edifices in Manila like the GSIS aren't like those barong barongs in the suburbs whose people wanted low cost housing and be paid peso by peso in it, obviously the latter should be a priority since the matter is about development such as low cost housing and opportunities; conditional cash transfer programs sponsored by the Asian Development Bank is not even developmental compared to the creation of cooperatives foundations of a growing self reliant economy, so is allocating the national budget to debt servicing which caused an ire amongst taxpayers who think that the government pays yet still had new debts to pay over!
Think about the Samahang Nayon project, that project made by the Marcos regime is worth better than the programs that require foreign funds to spent upon with. Samahang Nayon undertakes a need for rural development and opportunities, such as modern agriculture and cooperatives, yet despite the benefits such as opportunities for ordinary people in the provinces also meant additional kickbacks for a corrupt rule as everyone sees of it as the military and politicos, while bannering it also tend to look that matter as sources of their gratification that perhaps ruin the goals of the said project.
Same as the ones who agree in demolishing old edifices, talking about kickbacks and stuff that made the local government "OK." all in the guise of promoting development. This writer may have not been against development, but to see such motives using development as an alibi makes the idea antiheritage as old edifices are being paved way to boxes and highnrise buildings including those made by prominent architects like Locsin, Arellano, and Ilustre.
One commentator even said this:
"It's best to observe what Asian "tiger" economies did, which was generally to focus on agriculture and manufacturing, and which did not require destruction of heritage buildings. Also, as seen in parts of Asia and in Europe, there are ways to work with and around heritage sites and even nature rather than against them. The overall result may generate as many jobs while minimizing pollution and preserving sites at the same time.
It is not impossible for the ones whose reason is about old and dilapidated to justify further demolition of edifices including those that are most likely to be considered for rehabilitation. It would be weirder that someday there are more people leaning over to consumerism than to think about their identity as a Filipino, its heritage, and the means to carry over the idea to create something that is new and youthful despite years to come. That heritage is limited to Spanish-era churches and houses wand for tourists as most tend to look at modernity that is plain and void.
After all those people who are leaning over to consumerism rather thinks about this narrow-minded conception:
"THE STARVING MASSES DON'T REALLY GIVE MUCH OF A HOOT WITH HERITAGE BUILDINGS..."
or even thinking too crappishly cheap:
"Office building to become a shopping mall? it requires much renovation in it; it would be nicer and cheaper if that place had to be demolish instead-OUT OF COMMON SENSE."
Perhaps that stupid cause guised as "common sense" would somehow should also deal with the idea why development in the Metro paved way for the sprawling of barong barongs in the suburbs due to the massive influx of people from the provinces trying to settle in; anyways, development has a price if not everyone noticed about this matter.
Well anyway, that GSIS edifice would been look old, but it needs a good application of cement, new glass, and a fresh coat of paint and good renovation of interiors to make the place youthful for another purpose. Maybe on that place may possibly pave way for a schoolhouse, or a hall of justice for the service of every Metro Manileno.
And that reason is not out of a mere sentimentality as the majority ought to think entirely about, but rather for a just practicality without sacrificing something that is worthy of a utility.