Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Manila: Save Manila's old markets too!

All our ASEAN neighbors take pride in their old markets. In fact, they go out of their way to preserve and even restore them. As a result, they are popular destinations among locals and tourists alike.

Kuala Lumpur still has its Central Market, an Art Deco building which is very popular with tourists. It is in fact a declared heritage site of Malaysia and even has its own website, complete with the story of its near demise. The website notes that "it became the first case for large scale adaptive re-use of a building by the private sector after plans to demolish it were scrapped following public protest." It adds that the market "is unlike any other soul-less modem shopping complex in the city."

Singapore has the Telok Ayer Market. Just like its counterpart in KL, this is a declared national monument of Singapore. When tunneling work for the MRT began in 1986, instead of demolishing the market, realizing the historical and architectural value of the market, Singapore dismantled it and put this heritage treasure in storage. It was rebuilt as soon as the MRT tunnel was completed.

Now for Manila. We got this message from Archt. Richard Tuason-Sanchez Bautista of the NCCA: "I happen to pass by three Markets in Manila: Central Market, Quinta, and Paco. All have sign boards that mention about a new market that will be erected in the same site. Quinta is already partially demolished, and demolition is on going. Paco Market, which is among the loveliest market will go the same way."

Above is a photo of the Paco Market which was built circa 1910, courtesy of Archt. Bautista. In the inset is one of the Art Deco buildings that surround the Paco Market. This area, with several Art Deco buildings still standing, would have been a great place for rehabilitation and urban renewal efforts if Manila's planners and engineers were only forward looking.

Mayor Lito Atienza, for the love of Philippine culture, please stop destroying the architectural heritage of Manila!

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Update: I just got a text message from Archt. Bautista who immediately called an engineer from the Manila City Hall. According to him, they will repair parts of the markets and re-layout the place, but not demolish. Let's hope and pray that this is true and that they will not modify the exteriors of these markets. But Richard added that based on what they have done before, such as the Trabajo Market, they changed the entire structure!

I also got to speak with Archt. Lorelei de Viana of the NHI who said that Paco Market must have been designed by Archt. William Parsons. Same goes for the Arranque Market which the City Government of Manila has already altered beyond recognition. So we better make sure Paco Market is preserved!

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