Monday, July 23, 2007


An article by PDI's Tina Santos, "Demolition of condemned Manila buildings sought," reports the City Council of Manila has passed a resolution urging the local government to implement the demolition of all old and dilapidated structures in Manila.

Councilor Ma. Lourdes "Bonjay" Isip-Garcia, author of the resolution and chairperson of the committee on housing and urban development and resettlement, claims that the city has too many condemned and dilapidated buildings overdue for immediate demolition.

Not only do they pose great danger to the public (should they suddenly collapse), but these unsightly structures also attract the homeless and street children, said the councilor. She also reminded owners of such structures that they may be facing civil and criminal liabilities. The councilor's stance is supposedly in accordance with Mayor Alfredo Lim's 11-point program calling for such demolitions to be given top priority.

Dr. Fernando Nakpil Zialcita of Ateneo and Heritage Conservation Society, however, is concerned that among those in the city's list of buildings to be demolished is the Boix house inherited by the Jesuits, which is right beside the historical Nakpil house on Bautista Street in Quiapo. According to Dr. Zialcita, although city engineers had condemned it, Architect Mico Manuel, who inspected it, claims it is perfectly sound, except for the azotea.

Since our city engineers
may not be all that familiar with our heritage-worthy buildings and ancestral homes -- like those in Quiapo, Binondo and San Miguel -- Dr. Zialcita is further worried that they might have also included other early twentieth-century structures in this condemned list.

Dr. Zialcita would like to remind Councilor Isip-Garcia that "tourism on the North Bank of the Pasig River has increased thanks precisely to these antique, but dilapidated, buildings. Carlos Celdran, Ivan Mandy, Tess Obusan and myself bring tourists (both local and foreign) around the old quarters of Manila. Regularly, members of the different embassies, French and Spanish, for instance, call us up because they want to see these 'dilapidated' but charming houses."


posted by Señor Enrique at 12:43 PM


Blogger nerdluck said...

Haven't they heard of restoration and preservation before? I'm sure they have.. its just easier to demolish, right?

"Soon we will have to choose between what is right and what is easy" -Aldus Dumbledor

July 23, 2007 3:25 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

those are really old buildings, I say blow them up, nice shots,

July 23, 2007 3:28 PM  

Blogger Urbano dela Cruz said...

the preservationists need to move from defensive action, to working for strategically proactive measures that will encourage not only the conservation but also the adaptive reuse of these historic structures.

July 23, 2007 7:53 PM  

Blogger Unknown said...

I don't know why many of our government officials are demolition-happy. Where is their sense of history? I am sure that with today's technology, there are many ways by which we can make these structures safe.

July 23, 2007 8:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somebody lock her up please before she does more damage to Manila\'s heritage.

July 23, 2007 9:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are we like this? It's only when these buildings are going to be torn down when we make a clamor for their preservation. We had all the time to preserve these buildings, make the structure sound, reuse it ('adaptive reuse'), why complain only now?

Hindi ba may kaunting kasalanan din tayo kasi pinabayaan natin ang mga bahay na ito? At kung hindi man ipatupad ang ordinansang iyan, meron ba sa ating bibili ng mga lumang bahay na iyan para pagandahin muli? Kung may pera lang ako bibilhin ko sa mga Heswita ang Boix house e. At pagagandahin ko iyan para hindi sirain.

July 23, 2007 10:34 PM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

Amen to Urbano's comment! Berlin in Germany kept the "Remebrance Church" in tact as it looked after the bombing of the city of Berlin by the allied forces during WWII.

I don't know how much images of the old Manila has been preserved in the archives of the world but the true testimony of it's past will be carried on by those preserved old edifices, the old houses and the old neighborhoods, preserved well can bring in a lot of revenues from tourists and an image of Manila that is more positive than what it has now. Maybe a blueprint of the the Intramuros preservation and conservation group's initiatives can help out the Manila govt. in helping to bring these old land marks back to life.

July 23, 2007 11:46 PM  

Blogger ladybug said...

I esp. like the second pic. Very nice juxtaposition of images. Nice work!

July 24, 2007 2:13 AM  

Blogger Francesca said...

maganda ang pilipinas, pero ang pag preserve ng mga bagay na may history, napapabayaan, dahil nga sa monetary problem.

Sana gaya na lang ng europe ang pinas, haay, kelan pa kaya?

July 24, 2007 4:08 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks for your comments, folks!

Found this online at:

It is a very informative article in regards to heritage conservation:


Philippines can learn from global charters on conservation

By Augusto Villalon

Published on page C2 of the July 24, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

THE PHILIPPINES CAN LEARN from the efforts of other cities and countries in the world to save their heritage by coming up with relevant and effective conservation charters.

The Washington Charter on the Conservation of Historic Towns and Urban Areas (1987) concerns historic urban areas of any size located in cities, towns or historic centers that illustrate traditional culture through its surviving architecture. The scope includes the sites surrounding natural and manmade environments also under severe threat.

The charter defines the principles, objectives and methods for conserving historic towns and urban areas. It promotes harmony of private and community life and encourages preservation of cultural properties, however modest in scale, that constitute the memory of mankind. It presents steps for conserving such towns and areas, suggesting that development harmoniously adapt the old with contemporary life.

The Washington Charter suggests that conservation should form part of economic and social development policies to ensure that the historic character of the town is preserved.

Methods to ensure preservation include retaining the street pattern and maintaining the original relationship between buildings and open spaces.

Existing heritage buildings should be preserved. Keeping the same proportions, construction type and materials, colors and decoration is essential.

Most important, the charter calls for the participation of the local community to ensure the success of the conservation program, since the conservation of historic towns and urban areas primarily concerns its residents.

The charter lists the steps to be taken in preparing and implementing a conservation plan, a multidisciplinary effort since conservation plans address all relevant factors including archaeology, history, architecture, construction techniques, sociology, economics, legal and administrative.

Particularly significant to the Philippine penchant for pseudo-heritage architecture and for blending new with old in historic districts situation is the statement “Introduction of contemporary elements in harmony with the surroundings should not be discouraged since such features can contribute to the enrichment of an area”—provided that old and new respect each other and are good architectural neighbors.

Archeological charter

The Charter for the Protection and Management of the Archaeological Heritage of 1990 defines archeological heritage as the basic record of past human activities.

Some archeological heritage are components of architectural structures and, therefore, must be protected in accordance with the criteria in the 1966 Venice Charter.

Other elements of archeological heritage are part of the living traditions of indigenous peoples. Participation of local cultural groups is essential for their protection and preservation.

The charter lays down principles regarding different aspects of archeological-heritage management including responsibilities of public authorities and legislators, principles relating to the professional performance of the processes of inventorization, survey, excavation, documentation, research, maintenance, conservation, preservation, reconstruction, information, presentation, public access and use of the heritage, and the qualification of professionals involved in the protection of the archeological heritage.


July 24, 2007 5:14 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

kudos to butch et al !

July 24, 2007 11:59 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Australia has council laws regarding houses and buildings that are under heritage listings. Owners are not allowed to change the structure but to preserve and restore.

The Philippines has a lot to adopt and implement in order to salvage whatever is left of history.

July 24, 2007 1:54 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can't they just preserve and restore those building? At least the younger generation can still learn about the country's heritages and whatnots.


July 24, 2007 2:00 PM  

Blogger reyd said...

Why not just restore those that can be restored and demolished those that can not be repaired for the safety of the residents or if they want to keep the same style of the DILAPIDATED STRUCTURES for heritage conservation, just make a copy of the old structures.
Restoration funding is not always available on hand and if the owners wanted to build newer structures on their properties, I guess the conservation group would just have to sulk it in.
I have to admire you guys for stepping forward in the preservation of our heritage.
Mahirap kalabanin minsan yung mga nasa puwesto, all they think about are the money that would enrich their locality and their pockets.
(Yung iba lang hah.. not everyone, may matino pa din na pulitikos siguro) :)

July 24, 2007 4:13 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...


Just want to share with you a scoop from Ivan Henares of the Heritage Conservation Society:


Mayor Lim creates Manila Historical and Heritage Commission

This is not yet in the news but I'm happy to announce that Mayor Alfredo Lim revived the Manila Historical Commission and renamed it Manila Historical and Heritage Commission. Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil will serve as chairperson. I'll send updates as soon as the group convenes. Kudos to Mayor Lim!


This proves the new mayor's overall interest in and support for the city's preservation endeavors :)

Great news, indeed!

July 24, 2007 8:44 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say your photos are my window to the world I left behind or whatever is left of it now.

At least to me you have captured bits and pieces of my childhood memories.

Thank you for sharing your great pictures. Wish I was there.

July 25, 2007 2:54 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Clett,

One of my main intentions with photography is to somehow document Manila in my own humble way, and to use my blogsite as channel to share these photos.

When I was in NYC, I had a hard time finding pictures online of my beloved city. There were very few and typically of tourism bent.

I have also been asking others in the community to document more of our local towns/cities for us and the upcoming generations to appreciate.

Thank you for visiting and for your note!

July 25, 2007 6:35 AM  

Blogger Liza on Maui said...

Senior Enrique,

Can I ask for permission to copy and post this photos on my blog? I'd provide the link and refer to here (give credits).

I'd come back to this post to check

Thank you,

July 25, 2007 5:30 PM  

Blogger Liza on Maui said...

Oh, I forgot to say that the photo of the old apartment is very similar to the apartment I lived for 27 years....

July 25, 2007 5:33 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Permission granted, Liza :)

I'd like to take a picture of the house we grew up in which to this day remains standing, but with a different owner now.

July 25, 2007 10:19 PM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

I hear that modern concrete only lasts for 25 years, after which it becomes brittle and a major renovation or demolition is in order (but of course this safety regulation is hardly enforced here in the Philippines). However these old (50+ years) buildings of Manila might be made of better materials and may last longer.

July 25, 2007 11:44 PM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

When I was working for a non-life insurance company back there, concrete buildings (Class A) were assigned an arbitrary insurable life of 99 years. And I suppose this was then based on some actuarial process employed.

Anyway, a big part of the problem in historic restoration, especially in a country like the PI, would be the general scarcity of funds for such purposes. Remember these old buildings do not anymore meet the modern standards of functionality, space efficiency, etc. Thus, for the present owners economics dictates that newer structures would be the better choice. It is obviously a nasty tug and pull between historical attachments and economic realities.

In first world countries like the US, the dynamics are a bit different. The old Victorian houses in San Francisco, for examples, have been restored and maintained at considerably higher rates than the newer houses. And they are valued at a lot more than the newer-built, more efficient, etc. houses around them.

But that's because the market can bear it.

July 27, 2007 12:29 AM  

Blogger Liza on Maui said...

Thank you senior :), I am working on a post for this particular photo.

July 29, 2007 12:09 AM  

Blogger Liza on Maui said...

July 29, 2007 7:46 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pro-demolish side probably will have a cut from the projects ("renewal") that might be built over these old buildings. Greed. Still, they cannot lie, because each day we see proof that restoration and other forms of it, is possible. It's complete irony because take a look at those shopping centers and zones that have been built. Many of them are almost imitations of old world colonial styles, not necessarily specific historical sites, although this proves that copying those historical sites and buildings can be done too. Today's technology and materials goes against what their childish excuses. And the irony is also that those shopping centers are the same ones probably built by demolishing old buildings or over important lands - lands with more valuable/historic use treated badly. There is a saying that goes, if you don't learn from history (or at least value or preserve it), then there is no future or you end up living a fake life/society with no meaning. Something like that. The past is the past, but there is no future or identity without the past. The link will always be there, otherwise we wouldn't be around right now and nothing would exist.

July 31, 2007 1:06 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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