Sunday, 11 October 2015

Of Shutting Down, Letting go, and Rage

Of shutting down, letting go, and rage

Notes after Leandro Locsin's Hotel Intercontinental Manila to be closed at Yearend, 
its eventual demise (same as Mandarin Oriental which was earlier closed), 
and opposition from conservationists and nostalgics

At first, this person wants to thank the owners of the Hotel Intercontinental Manila, its employees, and even people who had come and go, all for its years of outmost hospitality. 

For as news reports tackled about its soonest closure, it seems that the well known hotel that had brought development in the newly-developed Makati likely to end up in the wrecking ball, knowing that old edifices nowadays are to be abandoned and eventually demolished no matter how prominent it was through the years. As Ayala Land Inc. president Bobby Dy said that the property giant is looking to develop another mixed-use development at the InterCon area.

"In 2016, we're going to be looking at the InterCon area, that's a 2 hectare parcel, to have another mixed-use development. The cost would be around P15-billion," he said."

According to Paulo Alcazaren's article, A press was released in 1958 on the building which then dubbed as "Rizal InterContinental Hotel", and lists Rizal Development Corporation and Pan American Airways as developers of the hotel. However, the initial 1958 design of the hotel was not followed and shelved. Construction of the hotel would be completed ten years later in 1969, and was inaugurated as InterContinental Hotel Manila.

Makati Commercial Center (with Hotel Intercontinental as background), 1973
source: PinoyExchange
The edifice had witnessed every building that had come and go for years: Rizal Theatre, Sulo Restaurant, the old Rustans, Shoe Mart, Gillarmi and Monterey Apartments, anything that made Makati developed until became the Philippines's Financial District and eventually a First Class City in 1995. It had wittnessed important events, such as the Oakwood coup, the Peninsula siege, or even the rallies at Ayala wherein its windows, acting as eyes, had wittnessed the rolling of armoured cars if not people assembling in their protest site. 

And as the hotel is planned to cease operation by December 31, 2015 and paved way to its "redevelopment" according to a recent report, this person would say that it is really quite saddening. In seeing such familiar edifices this person would say that why need to let it go despite its recognisable beauty? True that development is good but how about side by side with heritage and identity? Call it strange but heritage is more than old houses, it also includes made by those whose idea of development has brought the district well known until today; and "just letting it go" comes criticism after it.
For sure everyone had heard news about Locsin's Mandarin Oriental being closed down few years ago and soon to meet its fate amidst criticism from most conservationists. Much more that Circuit at Makati is situated at the once grand old Sta. Ana Park (Manila Racing Club) whose art deco architecture was worthy of being preserved and readapted. Sad to say but Sta. Ana Park was lost for "development" the way its San Lazaro counterpart was demolished for Henry Sy's familiar commercialised edifice.

Anyways, being a person who use to go Makati would say "what the fuck" in seeing such changes without any recognition of the building (especially coming from a National Artist), or any other edifice's relevance. That in every picture and in every sightseeing, this person remembers Quad, the old Greenbelt, the old Philippine Savings Bank main building, Shell Maya, Rizal Theatre, and even Powerbooks Pasay Road where he used to visit and read various books. Sorry for being nostalgic though as other nostalgics do, especially those whose idea of heritage is beyond Spanish-style houses and Baroque Churches.
And to those who would say "move on" and "letting go" all for chrissakes, haven't they recalled that both Mandarin Oriental and Intercon are made by the National Artist Leandro Locsin? Nostalgics afforded to say that those times were those of making the Filipino "world class" that is much dignified than today's so-called "Pinoy Pride" that is 60% mockery and nonsense; and according to the Heritage Conservation Society, The 38-year-old Mandarin Oriental and 45-year-old InterCon are described as two of the finest works Leandro Locsin had created and are protected by Republic Act No. 10066. RA 10066 is the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, protecting structures older than 50 years old. The law also protects works of art by National Artists and gives the government-run National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) jurisdiction over their disposition.

And although the well-known Insular Life has been almost subject to demolition rumors only to be redescribed as "renovation", while on the other hand waiting Leandro Locsin's Mandarin Oriental to its unlikely fate (hope that HCS and NCCA continues to counter ALI as possible since the building remained intact for a time being), and today's Intercontinental sharing the possible same fate as Mandarin's, this person as well as others expressed hope that there are edifices which are worthy to be preserved, to be cherished, to part of today's fast forward growing society and be adapted in its redevelopment. Such as those which are truly relevant and brought really existing respect through the years.

That's all for now.