By: Paolo M. Bustamante
There are rumors that the Ides O' Racca Building in Divisoria, Manila is being demolished to give way to another SM establishment. Just last month, we bode goodbye to a century-old house in Lavesarez. Sad to say that the Heritage Conservation Society & the Heritage Conservation Society-Youth lost that battle to salvage the establishment. However, despite of that previous challenge, our spirits and determination have grown stronger than ever and we are not giving this up without putting up a fight.
I just want to raise a point that we do not need to demolish our heritage sites to give way to tasteless and culturally insignificant buildings. Just yesterday, someone posted a comment in my blog saying that in San Francisco, USA, there is a century old building that was converted into a parking lot but instead of demolishing the entire building they retained the shell of the building and made use of it to give future generations a glimpse of the past.
They somehow they applied fascadism to retain essential details of the building. appreciate what they did for that structure even if I am slightly against fascadism and mainly pro Adaptive Reuse.
Last October, my friend Stephen Pamorada passed by the Ides O' Racca Building. In his surprise, he saw that the building is covered by a black net. (that is a sign that the building is deemed for demolition). He raised another point that before, there is a BDO branch (a bank owe bed by the SM group of companies) at the ground floor of the Ides O' Racca Building. Surprisingly it moved just in front of the building. Stephen also has a friend who works in the government. His friend saw a document that this building is in line for demolition. *gasp*
Due to the call of urgency, last week, I went with Stephen to document the Ides Building. I brought my camera with me and while I was taking pictures, a vendor asked me why I was taking pictures of that old building. I responded by saying, "That building is historical and it is deemed to be demolished." I followed up by asking her, "Do you think this building should be demolished?" She quipped by saying, "Yes! It looks old and dull, that building should be replaced with a new and more modern building."
My eyes started twitching in annoyance and anger. Yet I responded politely by saying, "Yes that building will be demolished with a much more modern one. I think SM will soon rise in this site and that will surely kill your small business. Good luck with that."
Dr. Isidoro de Santos built the building in 1935, thus the acronym Ides, with intentions of making it into a cold storage plant, being strategically located in Divisoria. When the loan that went for the building's construction could not be paid off, the Philippine National Bank repossessed it and sold it to the O'Racca Company, a Japanese confectionery firm which had its factory on Barraca Street. After World War II, the property was vested as enemy alien property. When the country became republic, it immediately became government property. (Source: Studis in Urban Cultures & Tradition, 2007; Lorelei D.C. de Vianna )