I really wonder how long it will take the board of the National Historical Institute to declare more heritage towns. At the moment, only five are in the NHI list namely Silay in Negros Occidental, Taal in Batangas, Pila in Laguna, Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte and Malolos in Bulacan. Vigan of course is already a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But many candidates have been screaming for declarations such as San Miguel de Mayumu in Bulacan, Sariaya in Quezon Province, San Juan in Batangas and Carcar in Cebu Province.
As I promised last March, I would talk more about the heritage town of Carcar. I was looking through some old articles on Carcar and it turns out, there was already a bill proposed in Congress. I wonder why it had to be done when it needed a simple board resolution from the NHI. Anyway, the article from the Manila Bulletin dated May 1, 2005 states, "Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas has filed a bill seeking to declare the municipality of Carcar, home to numerous historical structures and artifacts, a national cultural heritage zone.
"Located about 40 kilometers southwest of Cebu City, Carcar is just like Vigan City in Ilocos Sur, boasting of various architecturally significant vintage houses built during the Spanish era and a classical church, Gullas said.
"A cultural heritage zone refers to historical, anthropological, archaeological and artistic geographical areas and settings that are actually culturally important to the country.
"It has become absolutely necessary for us to preserve and protect Carcar's historical structures in the interest of enriching the national patrimony," Gullas said.
"Century-old buildings that still stand up to now remind the youth of the grandeur and aesthetic splendor of the architectural design of the past," Gullas added.
The article adds, "Under House Bill 3762, Carcar, once declared a cultural heritage zone, shall be subject to the rules and regulations governing the preservation of such sites."
I salute Congressman Gullas for this effort. Maybe the congressmen of the other towns I've mentioned should file similar bills since it seems it will take the NHI forever to make the badly-needed declarations.
As Architect Toti Villalon stated in his column last December 2005, "A model for public-private cooperation is now in place with the recent provincial declaration of Carcar as a Heritage Town and the passing of the Carcar heritage bill which designates heritage zones, levels of protection for heritage structures, and, most importantly, enlists the participation of the Carcar Heritage Conservation Society to provide technical expertise in the task of preserving their historic town."
In an earlier column, Toti describes the town, "Carcar's treasures go beyond the town's colonial homes, church and convento.
"Its calado architecture from the 1920s is unsurpassed in the country. The wooden faćades of the Carcar Dispensary and Saint Catherine's Academy have carved fretwork so delicate it seems like they could flutter with the breeze like fragile heirloom lace.
"Wooden houses from the unappreciated post-war era still stand in Carcar streets, a type of architecture so descriptive of life during that forgotten period of our national history which is sadly dismissed by many as not of heritage quality.
"A wonderful round kiosk from the American period, one of the best surviving examples of its genre in the country, valiantly stands at the center of the Carcar Rotunda, whose pride of place is now totally stolen by offending super large-scale billboards."
Indeed, that kiosk is one of a kind. I remember it was at the heart of a controversy between the townsfolk and the DPWH who proposed that it be demolished to giveway to some road widening. Yikes! There go our government engineers again who churn up the ugliest infrastructure in the world! Good thing the opposition to the DPWH plan was loud and clear.
Carcar is now protected not just by a provincial resolution but by a national law. But the question still is, didn't that need only a simple board resolution from the NHI?
On another note, check out the article Church heritage and the Pardo controversy in the Cebu Daily News which is related to our petition to the CBCP. It shows you how many of our priests think. What's sick about the Pardo issue is the fact that Cardinal Vidal already came out with an order for all priests to seek approval of Cebu's Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church for any church renovation but priests still disregard it.