Thursday, 25 September 2014

#INTRAGRAM Intramuros without Filters Talks

By: Paolo M. Bustamante

I would like to thank the Pamanstaan ng Lungsod ng Maynila for having me as their guest speaker. It was truly an honor to be able to impart my knowledge in heritage conservation to an eager audience. I hope I have inspired the students of PLM to somehow deepen their interest in heritage conservation, and I trust that I at least awakened a spark of awareness regarding its importance.

 Mr. Cleve Arguelles

 Ms. Sandra Martinez
Chief Tourisim Promotions Divition of Interamuros

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Save the Genato House

By: Paolo M. Bustamante

A week ago, a student majoring in Architecture from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, asked me for help on her thesis.  She asked me for suggested areas in Manila that features an array of ancestral houses and pre-war structures.  I advised her to visit the R. Hidalgo, Bautista and Bilibid Viejo Streets, in Manila.  In my experience in documenting, advocating for the preservation of heritage houses, and studying these structures in my own pace, I am certain that my suggestions will surely help her in accomplishing her thesis.

Not long after I suggested her these places, I received a message from her about an ancestral house in R. Hidalgo that was about to be demolished.  I thought, this is really a bad month for heritage houses!  This month, a lot of heritage places were torn down - the thought of which, by the way, reminds me of that scene in "Fight Club" where the buildings comprising the cityscape slowly crumble down, as Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter passionately kiss.

Anyway, I immediately messaged my good friend Stephen Pamorada who is currently the president of The Heritage Conservation Society-Youth, about the said house.  He was very upset about the news because his group called, "Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista" will be hosting a tour around Quiapo on September 28, 2014, which planned to include the Genato House in their tour itinerary.  Sadly, plans must change.

According to "Memorable Manila Houses", the very elegant mansion of Ramon Genato was renowned during the 1880's to the 1890's as a gathering place of the "alta sociedad de Manila" or "Manila's high society".  During special occasions (which were often, I assume), it served as a party place and ballroom area for the rich and the famous, during it's heyday.

Along with the message, the student told me that while they were walking around Quiapo, the vendors around them recommended the old house because of its antiquity and old charm.  According to her,when they asked if about the house to the guards, they halted them and said that they are not entertaining anyone regarding the house because it is in the process of demolition. It has been in the process of demolition last September 11, 12, 13, 2014.  Afterwards, the engineer stated that no one should be allowed inside the house, for it will be demolished and turned into the school's new annex.

Stephen told me that he was able to talk to the owners about the house.  The superior said that "The durability of the house is poor" and that, "They were fortunate enough to be able to see the interiors of the house", as well. 

Thinking about it just makes me a bit sad, especially as a heritage conservationist.  Manila is 400 years old.  However, it does not look like it is 400 years old!  We keep blaming other people and parties for the city's lost charm, but we never even tried to take steps and measures to save what was left for us from the past.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Save the Anda Monument

By: Paolo M. Bustamante

Here’s an update fresh from “Bummer Land”: The government is removing the Anda Monument from the Anda Circle! Apparently, it has no significant value whatsoever... The monument, situated at Bonifacio Drive was proposed to be removed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), because it was deemed to be the ONLY solution to ease the traffic situation. The proposal was approved by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), The Intramuros Administration, and surprisingly, by The National Historical Institute.

To any of you who don’t know the historical significance of the Anda Monument, here is a quick recap: The Anda Monument was originally placed near the Pasig River and it was moved along Bonifacio Drive after the war after the construction of the Del Pan Bridge. It is one of the few surviving monuments in Manila since the war, hence it’s historical and cultural significance and value. Now, you can imagine the intensity of my disappointment.

The rotonda was built to commemorate the legacy of Simon de Anda y Salazar, a former Spanish Governor-General of Manila. He was known for organizing the resistance movement against the invaders during the British Occupation of Manila and for his military service during the Seven Years’ War. Simon d Anda y Salazar died on October 30, 1776 in the Hospital de San Felipe, in Cavite at the age of 76.

Aside from the monument erected in Bonifacio Drive to honor his legacy, municipalities such as “San Simon” in Pampanga, “Anda” in both Bohol and Pangasinan were named after him. A street was also named after him in Vitoria, close to his hometown Subijana in Northern Spain. Clearly, he has made remarkable things during his time.

Although Simon de Anda y Salazar is not a Filipino, he has mostly served our country being Manila’s Governor-General during his prime. Also, if you think about it, our National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal has a monument in both Germany and China, despite of the fact that he is a Filipino national. I don’t think the Germans and the Chinese think about issues such as nationality, what matters most to them is giving due honor to individuals who deserve it.

(my friend Toia Avenido)

Our former President Carlos P. Garcia gave a speech on June 8, 1957 about the monument of Simeon de Anda y Salazar, as it was just erected. He tackled the historical and cultural significance of Simon de Anda y Salazar, how he was a Governor-General for the Filipinos, and how he changed Philippine history forever.

To quote President Carlos P. Garcia, “Why must the memory of Simon de Anda y Salazar, a Spanish governor-general, be immortalized in Philippine history? Why should a monument be erected to perpetuate his name? These are questions that must be answered on this memorable occasion that we set aside to rededicate the monument in his honor. I will start by saying that Simon de Anda transcended his time. Sent by Spain as a colonial governor over the Filipinos in 1770 at a time when colonialism was generally identified with abuses, oppression, and exploitation of the colonized masses, Simon de Anda on the contrary defended the Filipinos from such injustices and despotism. Simon de Anda was a hero in three important episodes of Philippine history.”

In recent news, according to Rappler: "The DPWH has not yet finalized plans of where to move the monument. But according to NHCP Chairperson Maria Serena Diokno, the commission's recommendation in 2012 was to transfer the monument to Maestranza Plaza inside Intramuros, also in Manila. "| Rappler

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Save the "Madrid House"

Last month, my classmates and I made a stop on one of the most beautiful houses in San Nicolas, located at Madrid St. cor. Lavesarez St.

I showed them the house before it is gone. I wanted them to see what Manila used to be because I want them to appreciate the beauty of our city. My classmates were deeply saddened when I told that that this house will soon face the wreaking ball.

(My classmates, Michelle & Mike)

In the last decade, the district of San Nicolas had lost a huge number of heritage houses in the area and I think someone has to speak up about that.

Last year, I blogged about the demolition of one of the oldest houses in San Nicolas and that is the "Lavesarez" house. It is just a block away from the "Madrid House". Unfortuatrely the Heritage Conservation Society & the Heritage Conservation Society- Youth lost that battle. The Lavesarez house was demolished to give way to a parking lot.

Last week I saw a post by my fellow heritage conservationist (who shall not be named), and he said that the house will soon be demolished. He is doing his part by protesting and posting on Facebook to preserve this building.

(The demolished "Lavesarez House")

We have this old notion about old buildings, when we say that when building is old we always think that it has "ghost" or "multo" living inside the building. Or since the building is old it is ugly and out of style. Because last week I went to Doroteo Jose and I saw the old ancestral house of Rosa Rosal, when asked the caretakers about the house, he said that there are ghost that show up in the night.

Maybe in 40 years, the only thing that is "historical"  is the BGC Buildings in Taguig. I hope we do something about it. We need to act now before it is too late. I observed that the youth is more active when it comes to these kinds of thing that's why I am encouraging the youth to do your share so that we have something to pass on to the future gereration.

Let us voice out our cause to Mayor Erap.

The "Madrid House" is one of the oldest architectural structure in San Nicolas. It was built during the late 19th century and it survived the Second World War and anyone proposing that it be demolished is doing a great disservice to the nation. The house will make a perfect hotel or a restaurant just like in Vigan. I hope the new owner realizes the strong economic potential of conserving the house.

About a month ago, I received information that one of the conditions of the house was if no one will rent it, the house be demolished. I hope that the owners understand that the house that they own is a priceless artistic treasure. We hope to see the house restored to its full glory in the future.