Friday, 10 July 2015

Waiting to be scavenged? Or willing to be rubbled?

Waiting to be scavenged? 
Or willing to be rubbled?

It's been decades past to see those familiar edifices be end almost dismantled if not turned into rubble.

Once recognised in the districts of Metro Manila, these edifices withstood the wind and rain, wars and coup attempts, endured soot and grime, and eventually threatened, discreetly dismantled, or destroyed altogether by the wrecking ball in the name of development. 

That somehow made the worrisome really worried about this. Some of the old yet recognisable buildings fell under the wrecking ball in the name of development, there are those trying to keep and be given a new face, yet most fell under deaf ears that made efforts to conserve known structures, be it pre or post war, impossible to keep and meet the demands of today's time. Yes, it is really worrisome, knowing that in an age of unbridled consumerism and "careless moving", very few undestood the value of perserving, of renovating, of keeping age-old roots firm while enjoying the present. 

In this writeup, one well known building has been left deterioriated till being end demolished for another; while another building, made decades earlier as the former, has been almost left to the wrecking ball, or even discreetly removing every age-old pieces, only those whom are really concerned had afforded to stop with court orders; 
that somehow made this person would think that as time goes by, are these edifices waiting to be scavenged till enough to be destroyed? Or left in its agony, gone deteriorating till willing to be end as rubbles? 

It's been decades past since this edifice  has stood in the once grassy Ortigas Centre in Pasig City, known as the "Philippine Communications Centre", several government establishments, as well as radio stations had offices in its floors, and its architecture reflected the era wherein concrete being heavily used so was granite and ceramic tiles. 

However, as time goes by it shows getting wear and tear, compared to its really modern-day neighbours, or even those being built in that district same decade as this, it seems that it had waited to become a mere empty shell, and the fact that there were establishments stood there before, it was ill-maintained, making it further dilapidated and really out-of-date, or even ugly, in its subjective sense according to some of the commentators regarding its state. 

And given its dilapidation, the structure has been weakened by cracks according to some who had once worked in its rooms, it was burned years ago after an accident, and eventually considered as dangerous, condemned, yet few persons dared to enter just to encounter ghosts according to some urban legends prior to its demolition. It took years to be demolished from top to bottom, thus losing one of earliest structures in a once grassy field.

To some nostalgics, this means a loss to a contemporary heritage, and yet from others the edifice is deemed ugly and thus should be taken down in favour of a new one similar to its neighbours as Philinvest land (the developer) hath took over the entire lot from the government. There were earlier proposals that involves integration to a new edifice and be given a new makeover, yet given its sorry state it was sheved and forgotten. 
But given its contribution as one of the earlier buildings, if not for its sorry state and its eventual demolition, that once stood edifice should been considered as one of its monuments to the development of Ortigas centre, of both Mandaluyong and Pasig just like its factories near C5 and in the river. If given chance, those edifices of old (made in mid to late 20th century) should be retrofitted, given new concrete, granite, steel, anything just to give a modern feature so as to deal with the demands of present yet rooted in its 20th century heritage. 

But then, today's people are too obsessed with "state of the art" that also means disregarding heritage save what comes from their experiences during their childhood. Owners and developers demand money as much as possible, that somehow . Ortigas centre, has been full of buildings that showcases "development" in a still developing country, and like Makati, there are old buildings waiting to be demolished simply because they are old and hence dilapidating and being simply forgotten; yet being old does not mean ugly, it's just that developers are seeking for prime lots to create another than keeping it and be given a new feature just like the still standing Insular Life building. 

But lucky for that decades-old El Hogar, for it remained stood, withstanding the soot, grime, and time, yet still threatened, especially after concerned individuals has afforded to record how men, assuming to be trying to undertake their job coming from its "owners", whom are still stubborn, yearning to dismantle one of Manila's familiar buildings in the old financial district. 

Starting by forcibly evacuating its tenants, of removing its time capsule a year ago, then few days later with its decades-old steel grillwork that had end halted as of its latest report, it seems that the developers has trying to make their action "clean" knowing that there are cease and desist orders, if not really concerned individuals and organisations trying to block their obvious attempt. "things are moving too fast" as one of them may say, seeing men trying to remove anything prior to its stoppage by the authorities. 

It may sound strange to some that in removing those grillworks (or any other pieces possibly been removed) may meant "cleaning" it and be returned and fixed if that's the case, but on the other hand it may also meant just selling it for bucks since it was decades old and be fallen to collectors (if not plain and simple straight to the scrapyard); in times like these the stubbornness of those trying to dismantle heritage makes the other also stubborn to keep it and insist its importance, much more the idea of putting it in adaptive reuse to keep in touch with the times yet having the same old dignity as in the past. 

But since it end halted by an order, hope that there's enough time, especially in this uncertain fate over El Hogar to put an end to the "owner's" stubbornness,  especially after its developers removing one of its grillworks, or even last year's barricades being set up without any permit (and end removed by an order) and the removing of its time capsule (that luckily, end in the former owner's safe hands). The new owners may still insist that the property as theirs and having the right to take it down regardless of its significance, that also shows plain, simple, aloofness in heritage especially in the once well known district in Manila. 


Pardon this person for being nostalgic like the others, but to think that heritage is not limited to old churches and houses, so should be the edifices regardless of its architecture. Be it as Renaissance-like, neoclassical, or brutalist with anything that is made entirely of steel girders and concrete, yet recognisable fo generations. Quite dismaying though for some commentators, for they can't even understood the architecture of the contemporary past, and most of which are likely deemed "ugly" for being brutalist in case of the Philcomcen or Strata 200, compared to the usual glass and steel exteriors of the present like those of  Union Bank.

Whether it is as very old as El Hogar, as somewhat contemporary as Philcomcen, or any other edifice that is currently threatened or totally destroyed in the name of "progress and development", these buildings had somehow contributed to their district's development theough ages, that somehow inspires others to educate people on preserving it. Again, as said in earlier posts, it would take years, if not decades for people to be aware of heritage, with the idea of bridging the ideas of both past and present involved. There are edifices willing to end in rubble no matter how significant they were, but the more its agony should be a more of its concern, and that concern is more than just rhetorics. 

For sometimes, memories are destined to be forgotten the way pictures are often fade away. 

Photos from Tumblr, Skyscrapercity, Isidra Reyes, and Stephen John Pamoranda