Saving a Cultural Heritage of Baguio

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By Briccio Cesar Domondon

The Council Reports

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


A HISTORICAL landmark of Baguio has once again caught the attention of the residents of the city even as we begin to anticipate what the year 2014 will bring.

Today, many of the younger generation in the city would be hard pressed to even recall where the hotel Casa Vallejo is located unless by association it is described as an old structure immediately below and adjacent the modernistic SM mall which sits atop Luneta Hill. And unless this younger generation had spent even a miniscule of their recreational time loitering just below that gargantuan mall chances are they might just have easily overlooked a culturally laden building in favor of other appealing sites more in tune with their tastes.

But there it is and there it stands. A 105 year old building that has, for the most part, weathered the ravages of time and survived both natural and man-made calamities to bear silent witness as the city of Baguio unfolded in its development.

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It is precisely the fact that most of our cultural landmarks are all but forgotten by the younger generation that there is a pressing necessity to preserve and protect those few vestiges that remain of our heritage in order that future generations to come will always be reminded of the past.

Heritage by its very definition is something that must be valued and treasured. There is a wonderful definition of heritage as provided by the University of Massachusetts Amherst thru the internet and it goes like this : “Heritage is the full range of our inherited traditions, monuments, objects, and culture.  Most important, it is the range of contemporary activities, meanings, and behavior that we draw from them. Heritage includes, but is much more than preserving, excavating, displaying, or restoring a collection of old things.  It is both tangible and intangible, in the sense that ideas and memories--of songs, recipes, language, dances, and many other elements of who we are and how we identify ourselves--are as important as historical buildings and archaeological sites. Heritage is, or should be, the subject of active public reflection, debate, and discussion.  What is worth saving?  What can we, or should we, forget?  What memories can we enjoy, regret, or learn from?  Who owns "The Past" and who is entitled to speak for past generations?  Active public discussion about material and intangible heritage--of individuals, groups, communities, and nations--is a valuable facet of public life in our multicultural world. Heritage is a contemporary activity with far-reaching effects.  It can be an element of far-sighted urban and regional planning.  It can be the platform for political recognition, a medium for intercultural dialogue, a means of ethical reflection, and the potential basis for local economic development.  It is simultaneously local and particular, global and shared. Heritage is an essential part of the present we live in--and of the future we will build.
Indeed of what value is the future if it is not anchored in the past. 

Now that the Hotel Casa Vallejo is the subject of a contentious property dispute the parties involved must make a commitment that whatever the outcome of the controversy the entire hotel structure must remain as it should be, as a remembrance to the city’s past and a testament to the fortitude and determination of the people of the city to create an enduring legacy.

On the part of the city council, a proposed legislative measure is currently being studied requesting his Excellency President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to cause the declaration of Hotel Casa Vallejo as a Heritage site. Let us hope that PNOY will favorably consider this request by the city when the appropriate resolution is passed by the city council.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 15, 2014.

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