Saturday, May 21, 2011

Milestone Heritage Site Preservation Urged

May 21, 2011, 6:27pm
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — Heritage conservationists strongly urge the city government to scrap a P35-million proposal to turn the old Iloilo office of Ker & Co. into the new city hall’s parking space.

Exclaimed Dr. Kristin G. Treñas, who is president of the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council (ICCHCC), “What an expensive parking lot! Not just in pesos, but in its true value to Ilonggos, which is inestimable!”

Lamented Treñas, “It is like tearing off a whole chapter from our story as a people!”

The 3,063-square meter lot of the oldest British trading company in the country has been eyed by the administration of Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog as a parking space for the new seven-story city hall which did not incorporate a parking space in its blueprint. Such a facility – a parking space – must be built - to comply with National Building Code requirements.

“A few months ago, the mayor wanted to retain Ker & Co; and now he is resorting to its acquisition,” cultural worker Bernardo Arellano III said, on Mabilog’s apparently flip-flopping decision on the heritage site.

The Mabilog administration countered however that it does not intend to use up all of the 3,063-square meter lot as a parking lot and that the 19th century structure would be preserved and may even be turned into a museum.

However, heritage conservationists are puzzled about the mayor’s plan for the construction of a parking space and a museum all in one lot.

“Although there is a plan to use the heritage building as an extension office and a museum, it is not entirely clear,” added Arellano.

Ker & Co. was established in the city in the middle of the 19th century when the port of Iloilo opened its door to international trade.

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