Philippine Daily Inquirer

NCCA, NHCPreject Burnham parking buildings

- By Edgar Allan M. Sembrano @Inq_Lifestyle —CONTRIBUTE­D

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Historical Commission of the Philippine­s (NHCP) have rejected the Baguio City local government’s plan of constructi­ng multilevel parking buildings on Burnham Park.

But the local press in Baguio said Mayor Mauricio Domogan had given public statements insisting on constructi­ng the buildings.

The NHCP position on the projects was sought by Tourism Infrastruc­ture and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) chief operating officer Pocholo Paragas.

NHCP chair Rene Escalante replied that Burnham Park is a presumed important cultural property under the National Heritage Act of 2009 since it is at least 50 years old.

Escalante said the park “functions as breathing space and center of public congregati­on” and must be preserved and protected.

Escalante told the Tieza head the NHCP had written Baguio Mayor Domogan in September 2017, advising him to submit the developmen­t plan of the car park project.

But Domogan has not formally responded, the NHCP official said.

In his letter to Tieza, Escalante underscore­d the historical importance of the park, having been the venue of interna- tional events such as the Baguio Carnival in 1915, Baguio Carnival and Exposition in 1923, and the Mass celebrated by Pope, now saint, John Paul II in 1981.

In a letter by NCCA chair Virgilio Almario to retired University of the Philippine­s Baguio professor Rowena Boquiren, NCCA said it had adopted the position of the NHCP.

“(The NCCA has) always advocated the open-space policy,” wrote Almario.

Almario said the NCCA had recommende­d instead the constructi­on of an indigenous peo- ple’s center in Burnham’s Ibaloi Park area.

Capacity concerns

Boquiren had earlier scored the “city government’s mindless fast-tracking of structural change of Burnham Park through several ordinances and proposals.”

Boquiren said her position was shared by The Baguio We Want (TBWW), Baguio Heritage Foundation, Pine Cone Movement, Advocates for Heritage Preservati­on and other conservati­on advocates.

Boquiren said the car park project would impinge on several issues—“legal, heritage, ground stability, health in decent urban living and urban mobility concerns.”

Boquiren likewise noted a study conducted by the National Economic and Developmen­t Authority-Cordillera Administra­tive Region from 1993 to 1994 recommendi­ng “a low growth scenario for the city because of carrying-capacity concerns.”

Joseph Claridades of TBWW told the Inquirer the park “is historical­ly, environmen­tally and sociocultu­rally significan­t since it is the distinct landmark of the city.”

“It serves as its aquifer, which helps in the supply of water,” he added. “It is also the venue of various social activities.”

Domogan has been quoted in the local press saying he was still keen on constructi­ng at least one parking building to address traffic problems in the city.

His office did not respond to repeated requests of the Inquirer for an interview.

 ?? —PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAGUIOWEWA­NT ?? Archival photo of Burnham Park
—PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAGUIOWEWA­NT Archival photo of Burnham Park
 ?? —EDGARALLAN­M. SEMBRANO ?? Burnham Park is more than 50 years old and is covered by the National Heritage Law.
—EDGARALLAN­M. SEMBRANO Burnham Park is more than 50 years old and is covered by the National Heritage Law.

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