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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Joining the Jericho Walk of Hudyat: The State of Philippine Heritage Address

Wazzup Pilipinas!

We were recently invited to attend Hudyat: The State of Philippine Heritage Address last Sunday, July 26, 2 p.m. It was organized by the Heritage Conservation Society-Youth, Sanghabi, and Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista.

Heritage conservation volunteers and students convened at the site of the Jai Alai building (in front of Torre de Manila) to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Jai Alai’s demolition and give light to the country's heritage situation.

Activities included a Jericho Walk - harkening back to the biblical story, the walk was an educational tour to several of Manila’s under-appreciated heritage sites, and to raise awareness about threats that they face. It covere the following destinations around the area like the Casino Español (Instituto Cervantes), the San Vicente Church, Adamson University Main Building, the Former Meralco Headquarters, and the Normal Hall, Philippine Normal University.

The Trumpeting of the Budyong, or shell horn, was done during the Jericho Walk to signify the start of a new beginning - a renaissance for heritage conservation.

Sir Leo briefing the Hudyat Jericjho Walk participants
Pop-up talks from partner organizations was being done along the way at every stop. Lots of photo opportunities within the heritage sites was also a favorite activity among the attendees who joined the tour.

What was apparent from all the visits at the different heritage sites was the disturbing sight of the Torre de Manila. The high-rise building was really a national photobomber dubbed in Filipino as "The Pambansang Photobomber ng Pilipinas."

At first I thought that the said building was only a nuisance to the sight of the Rizal Monument at Luneta Park. Now, I've realized that the structure is also disturbing the once beautiful views of other heritage sites around the vicinity.

It is surprising why Torre de Manila, otherwise known as "Terror de Manila," ever got an approval to be built in the first place. I really do not know who is at fault here, and who is to blame, but the glaring question here has always been "Are we willing to let the once majestic view of the Rizal Monument be ruined in lieu of job opportunities and living spaces created by the construction of Torre de Manila?"

Sir Leo gives a few message to the participants of the Hudyat Jericho Walk

Orientation of Hudyat  tour participants

The Torre De Manila can be seen a few steps away from the former location of the Jai Alai building that was torn down to make way for the Manila Justice Hall but until now, the so called Justice Hall was never built.

In front of the Casino Español (Instituto Cervantes) with the Torre de Manila in the background
At the San Vicente Church with the Torre de Manila in the background

Hudyat tour participants pose infront of the San Vicente Church

Adamson University with the Torre de Manila in the background
A replica of  The Furies is now at the Adamson building

The original The Furies sculpture was formerly located at the old Meralco building

The former location of the Merlaco building containing The Furies sculpture is now gone since the demolition of the Meralco building to build other structures. This one is believed to be the location for a McDonald's fastfood restaurant

The almost dilapidated and not well maintained Normal Hall of Philippines Normal University (PNU)

The Torre de Manila can be prominently seen inside the grounds of the Normal Hall

Taft entrance going to the Torre Manila construction sight
Many people have raised their own beliefs and opinions on the matter, but who is the best authority to give a sound decision? Will it be the Supreme Court, or the majority of the people that value their heritage more than urban advancement?

Some would argue with the saying that " Ang hindi lumingon sa pinagalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan." True enough, there should be a balance between the needs of the new society and respect towards the rich culture of our past. But who moderates the weighing scale to clearly define that particular balance we are all searching for? When is it right to sacrifice the destruction of an old dilapidated, under-maintained establishment to make way for a new, modern and better structure? When should the government step in to take care of our heritage sites before they all crumble into pieces leaving us with less memories of our past?

So many questions in mind, but too few answers are there.

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