Ur­ban de­cay

Northern Living - - CONTENTS -

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.

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