A CENTURY-OLD building, considered one of the historical markers in downtown Iloilo City, will soon be restored, said Senate President Franklin Drilon.
He said the building owner, Commission on Audit (COA), and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) are working together to revive the building formerly known as the Elizalde and Co., while the Department of Budget and Management approved the budgetary request of P40 million to restore it.
Drilon said the building is one of Iloilo City’s hidden gems, thus its historical value has to be preserved.
The COA building, or the “Edificio de Elizalde y Cia,” is a hundred-year-old complex whose architecture depicts the age of progressive commerce and trade in Iloilo during the late 19th century to early 20th century.
The NHCP will soon start the four-phase restoration project for the structure. The agency was authorized to take the lead in the restoration project following a Memorandum of Agreement it signed last April 7, 2014 with COA.
The building is also part of Iloilo City’s Central Business District (CBD), which has been declared a national heritage zone last June 2014.
The CBD, also known as Calle Real, is a district cultural heritage site and home to several infrastructures built at the height of Iloilo’s growth as a business and cultural center during the late Spanish and early American colonial eras.
Several heritage buildings preserved and used as stores and restaurants dotted the Calle Real and restoration of some buildings started some two years ago.
The COA building lies along the Calle Real and beside the Iloilo City Hall. The original owners used it as the family abode while a supermarket dominates the ground floor as the first comprehensive grocery store in the city.
COA bought the building and established its regional office there until the audit agency transferred to Pavia, Iloilo.
City Government offices such as the city health, local civil registrar, city planning, city budget and city tourism, among others, used to hold offices there.