Last night, I received word HCS Chairperson Gemma Cruz-Araneta that another heritage building, this time in Mountain Province, was proposed for demolition. I was told that provincial government wanted to replace the charming American colonial capitol building in Bontoc, Mountain Province with a new structure. The Mountain Province Capitol was in fact among the local government buildings featured in the 2007 HCS Calendar.
I verified with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to check if they knew about it. And it turns out, they've already acted on it. Kudos again to NHCP Chair Dr. Ma. Serena Diokno for her consistently quick and vigilant responses to all these heritage issues. Below are excerpts from her letter to Gov. Leonard G. Mayaen:
This has reference to your letter regarding the plan to reconstruct the old wooden provincial capitol building and inquiry if it has been declared Important Cultural Property pursuant to RA 10066.
Please be informed that Section 5 of Republic Act 10066 (National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009) states that all structures more than 50 years old are presumed to be Important Cultural Property. While there has been no formal declaration made by the National Museum (NM) or National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) on the provincial capitol building, it has been an important part of the history and cultural life of the province. We strongly suggest that a new and appropriately sized Capitol Building be constructed at another site to accommodate the various offices and functions of the provincial government, while the original front wing of the old capitol building be preserve and reused as a provincial museum, cultural and tourism office, or training and conference center.
The provincial government may also consider the following options:
1. Preserve the building shell and reconstruct the interior with reinforced concrete or steel framework. This will need prior approval of architectural design by the NHCP and extensive photo-documentation before, during and, after intervention.
2. Dismantle the wooden building wing and reconstruct its architecture using simulated concrete material. This will need prior approval of architectural design by the NHCP and extensive photo-documentation before, during and, after intervention.
3. Dismantle the wooden building wing and integrate its facade into the new (replacement) building. This will need prior approval of architectural design by the NHCP and extensive photo-documentation before, during and, after intervention.
We would appreciate a copy of the development plan for our assessment and recommendations.