Monday, October 17, 2005

Pangasinan: Pangasinan's capitol, a beakon for conservation

Finally, something to write about after all those weeks of endless studying. It's sick when you don't have a semestral break and even worse that you're having midterms when everyone else is on semestral break. Oh the disadvantages of being in the only trisemestral course in UP!

I had wanted to write about my recent trip to Baguio in September, particularly Camp John Hay and its historic core but didn't have the photos as well as time to get myself to scribble some notes. So that made the lull longer.

Anyway, I joined Gemma Cruz-Araneta last Saturday, together with Archt. Jojo Mata and heritage photographer Karlo de Leon, during her visit to the Pangasinan Capitol Building in Lingayen, where restoration has been ongoing for the past three years. Jojo is the lead restoration architect of the project and we again saw each other on another out of town HCS trip quipping that we are indeed Gemma's faithful sidekicks.

We left Manila at 5 a.m. in order to get to Jojo's latest "obra mata" right before lunch and in time for us to meet with Gov. Victor Agbayani, Pangasinan's young and charismatic governor. The town of Lingayen is filled with heritage treasures. If not for that convento which was demolished by that stupid parish priest who pictured cash registers ringing with his new columbarium, everything would have been perfect. I'm surprised that the demolition did not raise a howl from Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Oscar Cruz who as archbishop of San Fernando, Pampanga in the late 80s was responsible for the preservation of Pampanga's church treasures at a time when their sale by parish priests was so rampant.

The drive to the capitol was a charming sight. An elegant double-laned boulevard with a wide kalachuci-lined island in the middle that if landscaped would be a site to behold. At the end was the neo-classical capitol building of Pangasinan. Freshly painted, it is said to be one of the most elegant if not the most elegant capitol buildings in the country. And thanks to the efforts of Gov.
Agbayani, the building is about to be transported back in time as layers of constant and unsightly alterations by previous administrations are removed to reveal a priceless pre-war architectural masterpiece. Indeed, this will be a legacy for future generations, one that should be emulated by other provinces.

After going around the building, we were met by Gov. Agbayani who took us to other parts of the building which is still undergoing final touches to its restoration. This was followed by lunch at the governor's official residence just accross the street.

We discussed among others, plans to create local ordinances that would protect the capitol and other heritage structures all over Pangasinan. This would be an exciting breakthrough for heritage conservation since Pangasinan is the first provincial LGU to untertake such a project. It's sad that our provincial officials in Pampanga don't have the same level of consciousness as Gov. Agbayani. Oh well!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures at my Yahoo! Photos site.
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