Thursday, 5 March 2015



One of the doors of the Palanca residence,
made before the war only to be demolished in the name of development
From Stephen John Pamoranda 

At first, it seems that most people are unaware on the state of Philippine heritage, such as its architecture save for those whom seriously afforded to read history and the willingness to seek places that was once known.

Regardless of its generation, significant feature, creator, and contribution to societal development, it seems to be quite foolish, if not stupid to disregard altogether simply because it is old, ugly, dilapidated, or even a decision of the owner to tear it down in the name of progress and modernisation. And most are intentionally unaware simply because "it has no relevance in their lives", apathetic in a sense that it has nothing to do with their labours.

How come these people are intentionally unaware despite seeing those buildings once stood and eventually demolished for a state of the art building? Months ago, there were areports about the state of the Army and Navy club near Luneta park that was end an empty shell of its pasts, then the apartments that stood before and during the war had been screened and demolished, the Admiral Apartments also shared the same fate of being demolished for the sake of building a "botique hotel" and ended blocked by an order from the National Historical Commission! A sigh of relief indeed, but days ago news about the old Carlos Palanca house at Pasay was demolished with iron railings and roof tiles removed, but again people still unaware on the state of these edifices unless it was shown in news reports, documentaries, or in social media groups concerning at nostalgia. 

And although everybody heard other edifices like El Hogar, Monte de Piedad, HongKong and Shanghai Bank, Meralco at San Marcelino, and lately the house of Carlos Palanca in Pasay, these old yet significant edifices end left in grime and soot if not altogether demolished for the sake of building another that is called "modern" and "state of the art". Yes, in a sense that it does not cultivate a sense of culture but rather for consumption; given the developer's taste for letting clients have the "room" in exchange for a thousand peso deal.  Yes, a thousand peso deal that also meant additional profits for a developer eager for prime lots including those situated in those considered as heritage zones. 
And if not for the concerned individuals or groups such as "Heritage Conservation Society" then maybe a quarter of Manila would have remained its pasts as most be end a frustrated version of Hong Kong or Singapore if not New York or Chicago, full of modern buildings and at the same time a city in disorder. As conservationists and concerned historians alike are painstakingly doing their efforts in stopping developers in raising their "progress" on those been endured for years, if not trying to preserve and improve, looking as new as in its past for posterities to come especially in a frustrated modern society. 

But come to think of this, if the purpose of demolishing old yet remarkable structures in Manila's districts is paving way of progress and development, then it is no different from barbarians ransacking cities and villages for the sake of acquiring more loot. In seeing old structures full of grime and soot, sitting and waiting to be destroyed by a contract, some would felt concerned over its beauty and time-tested strength as it survived decades of war, growth, and today's degeneration; but the latter term, whom at the same time appeared as developmental, raised the sledgehammers of progress and threatening them over till end gone- in case of the San Lazaro Hippodrome, it end demolished for a mall; so was Sta. Ana Park for a commercial complex, and Jai Alai for an aborted hall of justice yet instead was an almost complete condonimium. The edifices somehow meant to be preserved for posterity given the fact that besides the architect and the style, was also the reputation that mold the districts wherein these establishments situated. It would had been pass into adaptive reuse and thorough improvements as a continuation of its decades-old legacy, but why demolish for chrissakes? 

But as what said earlier, given the perchance for superficial modernities, then history, heritage, identity be end disregarded for commercialism and people are intentionally unaware thinking that history has nothing to do with them. As more and more speaks, types phrases like "moving on", old houses, buildings with spacious lots be end demolished for a condominium, mall, or any mixed purpose complex to be built upon in its ruins; that somehow also creates a scene of disorder in a backward society assuming to progressive. How come Malaysia, Singapore, or even Spain and Britain cares about its edifices no matter how centuries old it was made? The Philippines do love to look upon their examples so to speak as tourist zones, lovers lanes, yet they still cling to the consumerist attitude of the Yankee west that brought dependency and reluctance to heritage. 


Correct this person if he's wrong, but if anti-intellectualism that brought aloof towards history and heritage in favor of superifical progress seemed to be growing in the Star-Sprangled West then is the Philippines, its loyal subject following its footsteps of disregarding learning, preserving, innovating, and instead favoring a cycle of contented nonsense? If yes, then perhaps that disorder that brought negligence and eventual deterioration, be it the edifices this writeup featured, the music or movie, literary work that has to be played or shown, and its values trying to be cultivated, really continues with its strongest strain creeping from everybody's minds; a disorder that includes apathy, intentional ignorance of realities, and reluctance to a true kind of growth that is deeply rooted in its cherished legacy.