Thoughts on Demolished Municipal Buildings

I’m no longer surprised when I see demolished old government buildings. Next to the classic Filipino house, old Municipal buildings are greatly subjected to neglect and eventual destruction. There are number of reason why local governments elect to destroy existing old buildings. Most consider it impractical to maintain, others feel that it had already served its purpose and that its time for a bigger modern building with more offices that could accommodate more government business.

Obviously we’re missing something in our understanding of how to treat the issue of old run down government buildings. Because if we are to replace them all, which is what we are witnessing today, then we are fast replacing tangible history with steel and glass.

And we’ve lost a considerable number of old municipal buildings (most are 50 to 80 year old structures).

Is this the price we are willing to pay for modernization?

Sure, there are safety concerns that must be addressed but the manner by which these buildings are demolished without consultations with the community and historical authorities are alarming to say the least.

While the rubble of recently demolished Baler municipal hall still litters the area surrounding it, not far stands the new municipal building. This baffled me. Why destroy the old building if the new one would not be built where it stands anyway?

While other countries are scampering to save what’s left of their old districts, buildings and monuments – we casually destroy ours.

Perhaps, there are reasons beyond my comprehension. I’m not saying what Baler officials did was wrong or bad. If the locals agreed to this changes–then I rest my case.

As a people, we have to seriously reassess where we are heading with our continued obsession for removing everything except those that we see modern. Confused as we are as to what is true Filipino history, without tangible historical structures, we’ll become more ignorant of who we are. The more ignorant we become of our history, the less free we become as a people.

Speaking of old municipal halls, Bauan’s recently made news after the local government made known their plan to build a new building to replace it. Fortunately, the people together with heritage conservation advocates stepped in. Good thing is that the local government has shown willingness to listen and preserve their art deco building. There are on going consultations with experts on how to deal with the issue (incorporating the old building with the new one is an option that is being studied).


2 responses to “Thoughts on Demolished Municipal Buildings

  • Elizabeth Medina

    They destroy the old buildings because then the company that does the demolishing earns money that the company owner got the municipio to issue a contract for. It’s all business. Then later a new contract can be “won” to building _a new building_. It doesn’t matter if the new building is even needed. Money needs more money. There’s free money every year coming from the people, and it doesn’t matter what the people need or want. The machine collects their money and the machine gives it to its friends (or it itself, as the politicians are often the owners of the companies that get the contracts).

    In the old days, the wealthy lived in the towns, so they built their nice houses and it was in their interest for their town to be nice ot live in. Now they have moved elsewhere, and so they no longer feel any commitment to the old town. Or they die out and their descendants feel no commitment.

    And this is the cycle of forgetting and losing love for the places of origin. Unless something happens and the modern Filipinos, so much in love with the fancy life in the big city, are forced to abandon that romance. By what? Oh, a magnetic pole shift that will cause the entire archipelago to sink and a new land to rise elsewhere.

    It just about has to be that drastic.

    But if we can at least learn to see these old houses with appreciation, then not all has been lost.

    Thank you Arnold for making that possible.

    • De AnDA

      New constructions just creates more money than restoration. Our society has become so greedy and materialistic – lahat halos gusto ng mabilis na pagyaman – especially our politicians. Always looking for the next big deal.

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