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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Historical Landmarks Bow to Dictates of Progress

Progress, like peace, comes with a price. The old gives way to the new and sadly, we lose traces of our link with the past.
Many old buildings around Manila gave way to the demands of progress. The most recent will be the transfer of the Anda Monument. The announcement that the Anda Monument in Intramuros, Manila, would be dismantled to make way for a regular intersection to decongest the traffic flow stirred a roar of protest sounded all around social to traditional media.
But the plan was only to dismantle and transfer the monument. The DPWH successfully worked for the approval of the transfer of the Anda Monument to a nearby place from three concerned agencies—DOT, NHCP, and Intramuros Administration. Its clearances would show nothing could stop the DPWH for its reconstruction.
“The proposal to transfer Anda Monument from Bonificio Drive to Maestranza Park in Intramuros was approved by Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr., as shown in the attached Memorandum dated January 25,2013 from the Intramuros Administration,” said Reynaldo Tagudando, director of DPWH office in the National Capital Region, in a letter, a copy of which was furnished the Manila Bulletin.
The Anda Circle – which measures 63.47 meters in diameter –is considered as a bottleneck to the Port Area with the worsening traffic due to high volume of vehicles and trucks. It will be relocated to Maestranza Park in Intramuros, Manila.

This is not the first time the monument was transferred. Its original site was near the mouth of the Pasig River, just outside the northwest edge of Intramuros.
And who was Simon de Anda y Salazar? Anda was appointed the 41st governor-generation in 1770 and served for six years. The monument was built as a tribute to his resistance against the British occupation of Manila in 1762, before he served as governor general.
In World War II, the monument was damaged and was reconstructed and transferred from its original place to where it is now, to make way for the construction of the Del Pan Bridge.
The transfer that is being planned will make way for an intersection that is envisioned to ease traffic flow, especially of trucks, to the port of Manila.
According to the DPWH plan, part of the scope of work is the “establishment of a signalized traffic system by installing traffic lights.” Bonifacio Drive will reportedly retain four lanes each way.

There is another building with much history that is now being “renovated” – or destroyed, according to conservationists – to make way for progress.
That is the Manila Army and Navy Club building at the corner of Roxas Boulevard and Kalaw Street in Ermita, Manila which will now be converted into a boutique hotel.
Conservationists are calling the project a “demolition” of a historic landmark. The structure was declared a historical landmark by the National Historical Institute (NHI) in 1991.
During the American occupation, the Army Navy Club was an exclusive club that catered only to American soldiers and personnel, and Filipinos were not allowed inside.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), which approved the “renovation” of the Army and Navy Club building, has an answer to the criticisms.
“Hindi demolition yan kundi ‘adaptive re-use’,” Architect Wilkie Delumen told the Manila Bulletin in a phone interview. (It is not demolition but is rather adaptive re-use.) He explained that they more or less will retain the facade and structure of the building but change the function inside.
The renovation started Sept. 3. It is being funded by the Oceanville Hotel Spa Corporation. Delumen said the building is owned by the City of Manila and is now being leased to the said private corporation.
He explained that once the building has been renovated into a hotel, the private company will be in-charge of operation and maintenance of the five-star hotel.
He said the building has been “idle” and “abandoned” for decades now. Its last occupant was the local government of Manila. During the time of then Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, it was used as a museum, which was then known as Museo ng Maynila.

Some 14 years ago, the Jai Alai Building was demolished after it was declared “unsafe” by the local government of Manila.Like in the case today of the Manila Army and Navy Club, groups also protested the move back in 2000.
The Jai Alai building, built in 1940, was one of the first Art Deco buildings in Asia and was designed by Architect Welton Becket. It was demolished to give way to the construction of Manila Hall of Justice.
But that “sacrifice” made to let go of a piece of history to pave the way for progress went all for naught as the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice did not push through.

Unlike the two historical landmarks, the Carriedo Fountain, an 18th Century public fountain, which was located at the intersection of Magsaysay Boulevard and Lacson Avenue in San Miguel Manila in 1978, was not demolished or renovated but was transferred.
Actually, many residents don’t even know that it was transferred, thinking all the time that the fountain was demolished. It had been transferred three times from its original location. It is now located at the parking area in front of the Sta. Cruz Church in Sta. Cruz, Manila.
Back then, the fountain supplied water to Manila residents from the Pasig River.
It is the Carriedo Fountain that perhaps holds the most direct link to the past, to a time when our National Hero Gat Jose Rizal was still alive. Rizal, who lived in Tondo for a while, must have walked past that fountain in the days when he was thinking of perhaps the next chapter of Noli Me Tangere.
Perhaps, when the next generations will find no historical value in structures like those, they can think of a popular Pinoy saying: “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalinan ay di makararating sa paroroonan.”

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