Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Looking back at SSEAYP 2002

Happy New Year to all! Time really does fly fast and I can't believe it's already 2007! Anyway, I was cleaning my room a few days ago and I got to look at some albums from previous trips when film cameras were still in style.

After my voyage on the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program in 2002, I tried my best to visit my friends in the various ASEAN countries every year. I remember in 2003, my trip was postponed several times due to SARS. It finally pushed through in September and it was a blessing in disguise since it coincided with the docking of the M/S Nippon Maru in Singapore and Malaysia. In 2004, I went to Hue, Vietnam but wasn't able to meet up with anyone. My mistake was I sent the e-mail message too close to the trip and my SG-mate (the 340 participants are divided into 11 Solidarity Groups or SGs) only found out we were in the same city, attending the same festival when we got back.

My blog was born during my trip in 2005 to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and Brunei. The very first post was actually in my Friendster blog which is still up and about. In April last year, I made a whirlwind tour around Southeast Asia visiting five countries namely Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. I've blogged about all these post-SSEAYP trips already except the one in 2003. And thinking about it, I may never get to see again some of the cities I visited during that trip. It would be a pity if I didn't write about them, two of which are heritage towns of Malaysia namely Penang and Malacca. So for the next few days, I'll be looking back and writing about that trip.

Heritage watch
Enriquez antique mansion goes kaput
Yes people! The Enriquez Mansion along Calle Hidalgo, an 1890s house with Ionic columns and praised by Maria Morilla Norton in 1910 as the "the most beautiful house in the islands," the same one which became the site of the School of Fine Arts of the U.P., is now Acuzar property and has been transferred to Bagac, Bataan. And yes, Acuzar is planning to build a 20-storey building to replace this elegant house in the heritage street.


  1. I'm posting the letter of Jeffrey Yap to the National Historical Institute...

    Ms. Emelita V. Almosara
    Deputy Executive Director
    National Historical Institute

    Dear Ms. Almosora,

    Happy New Year!

    I received the weblink below via e-mail. It pains me to see the utter destruction of Manila's historical/cultural landmarks:

    As a volunteer, I try to document all the historical landmarks in Manila. However, there are times that it's only a one-man team and I am having a hard time documenting every single landmark in Manila. R. Hidalgo for instance has lost several ancestral houses already.

    I hope NHI will do something about this. We are losing precious evidence of Old Manila's wonders at such an alarming rate.

    Jeffrey Yap

  2. I'm also posting a comment of Dr. Fernando N. Zialcita...

    Since this letter of Jeff is addressed to Mely of NHI, may I butt in?

    Until now it is not clear exactly what position the NHI is taking on the preservation of landmark buildings.

    Yes, they are doing an inventory of landmark buildings all over Metro Manila. But after that what then?

    1. Can they INSIST that owners NOT demolish the buildings under threat of sanctions?
    2. Can they offer incentives?

    Around July 2006, I called up the NHI to discuss this matter with a member of the inventory group. I forget her name. She categorically said that NHI "can only persuade owners not to demolish their buildings." That's WEAK and USELESS.

    Once more the key problem of the Philippine Republic stares us in the face: IT IS A WEAK STATE! It is unable to act on behalf of the "public good". It backs off in the face of private interests, for fear of lawsuits.

    When I mentioned the comment of this NHI lady to a German architect, he was shocked. "There is a national good," he exclaimed. Mind you, the Federal Republic of Germany is much more democratic than ours.

    And yet Atty. Trixie Angeles, probably the lone lawyer who specializes in heritage, has clearly outlined the steps that the State can take to safeguard heritage ON THE BASIS OF PRECEDENTS.

    Yes, we need a consultation meet with NHI and National Museum. Somebody please organize it.

    Butch Zialcita


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