Save Ker and Co.

A friend blogger posted in his site the apparent threat to the one of the oldest building in the Iloilo, the Ker and Co. in the downtown area. The city government plans to convert it to a parking area. I hope they reconsider this course of action. Iloilo local government have had a good record, so far, in conserving heritage buildings. Tearing this century old building would be a step on the wrong direction.

I took this picture last year. Not far from this building is Muelle Loney where a statue of his can be found. According to a local historian, Michelle Tayoba, "the architectural development is straight-forward and functional, devoid of any decorative treatment, typical of humble domestic architecture of the early Spanish period. The adaptation of the wooden second floor base of strong stone walls works very well with Philippine conditions. This system of construction resists earthquake and safeguards deterioration of the wooden parts by pests, like termites and also water soaking on the ground. The wooden structure is safely elevated on a stone base free of the effects from the ground-borne infestations. These characteristics imbue the architectural development with Filipino identity and European extraction." Plenty of lessons we can learn from these heritage structures - we must not tear them down!

Ker and Co. was built by the British in 1850’s. It once employed Nicolas Loney before he was made British vice consul. The company had offices in Manila and Singapore and is credited for bringing sugar cane cuttings to Iloilo from their straits colonies. The company is headed by William Ker who held office in Escolta.

Loney is credited for improving the sugar industry of Iloilo by bringing machinery (imported by his former employer Ker & cia) that aided mass sugar production. The Ilongos honor his contribution to their economy by naming their port, Muelle Loney, after him. The British would have not been able to do much business in Iloilo if it were not for this Spanish speaking businessman.

The simple looking building of classic Filipino style architecture (stone first floor, wooden upper space) is a testament to how it all started for the noble city. How Iloilo became one of the richest province in the 19th century had a lot to do with the business activities associated with this old building.

To Iloilo City officials: tearing Ker & Cia down is a big, big, mistake. Please spare it for the future generation of Ilongos.


6 responses to “Save Ker and Co.

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