Friday, January 16, 2009

Statement of the Heritage Conservation Society on the Laoag Central Elementary School

The fight to preserve the Laoag Central Elementary School continues! For background information, please read Save the Laoag Central Elementary School. Below is the statement of the Heritage Conservation Society on the issue.

Education handed over to the malls
The sad desecration of our built education heritage

It is sad to note that as the Philippines strives to move forward into the new millennium, we have forgotten to understand the true meaning and value of what makes us a people, a nation, and a country as a whole. The random destruction and desecration of our historic sites manifests total disregard for the past, the contributions of our forefathers, and the collective suffering of our people.

This is true particularly in the unwarranted need to promote growth through the demolition of historic sites and structures for what is today perceived as the most needed infrastructure project around, the shopping mall.

The historic city of Laoag, Ilocos Norte is one case in point. The Laoag Central Elementary School, built in 1929, is a fine example of educational architecture designed to provide first class instruction even in the farthest reaches of our archipelago. Designed in accordance to the Gabaldon Law (which stipulated that education is for all thus necessitating the construction of school buildings far and wide), these centers of education and the symbolism architecture they provide have shaped, molded and inspired generations upon generations of Filipinos. For a building, historic in its significance in the annals of Ilocos history if not Filipino history, its unwarranted destruction and conversion into another center of consumerism is another sign of our low regard for our rich cultural past.

Some sectors claim that the building and its grounds are ripe for development. Sitting right smack in the center of Laoag, indeed the site is prime real estate. But its building, particularly its main administrative structure, needs to be preserved, conserved and above all saved from the wrecking balls of greed. Even though the building is not yet listed by the National Historical Institute as historic, it is historic no doubt. It is expected of the people of Laoag, Ilocos Norte and the Filipino nation as a whole to preserve the fast dwindling historical buildings still standing.

Heritage is defined not solely as a structure with an official plaque as designated by these government agencies. Heritage is the heart and soul of a people, community, and nation. Heritage embraces the memories of the past. Heritage gives identity to a people, city, place, and country. As such, heritage is rendered with age, grace, beauty, nobility, significance and above all, love. For if we love our country, then we should love the vestiges of what this country stands for.

That this historic structure should be demolished for yet another shopping mall, is a complete insult and disregard for love of country.

Heritage Conservation Society

Board of Trustees
Gemma Cruz-Araneta (Chairperson & President)
Christian Michael Aguilar
Dr. Nathaniel von Einsiedel, FPIEP
Ivan Anthony Henares
Archt. Rene Luis Mata
Archt. Manuel Maximo Noche
Archt. Melvin Patawaran

Atty. Lucille Karen Isberto (Corporate Secretary)
Adoracion Soriano (Executive Director)

Advisory Council
Archt. Augusto F. Villalon, Ph.D. (Founding Chairperson)
Bambi L. Harper (Founding President)
Archt. Bettina Bonoan
Archt. Dominic Q. Galicia
Amb. Raul Goco
Edda V. Henson
Richard B. Lopez
Juan Miguel Luz
Maria Isabel Ongpin


  1. Anonymous16.1.09

    Thank you for this formal statement of the Heritage Conservation Society of the Philippines. I am from Laoag and I just learned of this situation last week in a conversation with my cousin. I reacted violently about the news and I was saying the same thing (as stated in this statement) to my cousin when he informed me of the decision of the Laoag Catholic Church to sell the lot to SM daw. Allegedly, the lot is owned by the Church. I said I am sure the government can do something about it. I hope to learn more about the details of the Laoag Central School situation when I am there again this weekend. But I do not know what is the impact of this statement if the owner and the city council has agreed about the conversion of the school to a mall...

  2. They signed a MOA with Bellagio Holdings, Inc. (a.k.a. Puregold). The property was donated by the church in 1924 to the LGU. If it ceases to become a school, the property goes back to the church. So church and state made a deal to build a mall. Sabi nga ni bishop sa isang journalist: "Of course, it's about the money!"

  3. Anonymous19.1.09

    I think what is best to mention to them, why not put up the mall outside, para yung development ng laoag ay mapaayos naman. Malawak pa naman ang Laoag. Kailangan nila ng urban development plan. They must start thinking of urban sprawl na. And it's not just Laoag, it's all over the Philippines.


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