What does it really mean to restore a heritage site? Several historical buildings around Metro Manila, considered one of Southeast Asia’s oldest cities, have withstood the test of time, but not the nation’s negligence. Commercialism, alarming population growth, pollution, among other things, have contributed to the decline of what was once a grand city with rich architectural designs. At what point should we stop and rethink, what is the real value of a modern city filled with condominiums, malls, and impressive commercial buildings when traces of our history are left decrepit and destroyed?
The halted restoration of the Army Navy Club sits at the tipping point of this conundrum. Opposing groups are pointing fingers while a hapless, demolished building is at a standstill. For more information on this debate, log on to www.heritage.org.ph. In this issue, we take a look at the markers of our history, of what makes this place truly our own. Not all hope is lost, it seems. There are still people like Manuel Noche, an architect who seeks to spread awareness about our heritage landmarks. Amy Besa and husband Romy Dorotan of Purple Yam restaurant persist in serving traditional, locally-sourced Filipino food to support the chain of local suppliers, far-flung communities, and to simply reintroduce our culturally diverse cuisine.
The conservation of historical sites is not simply an attempt to bring back the remembrance of things past, it is a longing to preserve a part of our identity as Filipinos—which is the one thing that is in most need of restoration.