DURING our Science High School days, we had a chance to go to the Dominican Hill to scare ourselves of imagined spook and phantoms amidst the tall grasses, abandoned building and eerie tree shadows.
Now it is commercialized, next thing we know it will become a Trade fair center, a garbage dumping area completely disregarding its Heritage Site identity. Parks are beyond the commerce of man.
In April 2004, after picking me up from the airport returning from one of the Igorot International Consultations, I accompanied my father, Councilor Galo Weygan in processing the Dominican Heritage Hill from National to the city. We went to the Tourism office before proceeding to the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) then to Malacañang and finally to the Sandigan Bayan. It was the following year that it was transferred to the name of the city with TCT 85948 last April 5, 2005.
It was when I was in City Hall as a city councilor from 2010-2013 that I had a personal involvement in the property. The deed of conveyance obligated the city to rehabilitate and maintain the 32,402 square meters property into a heritage and nature park.
By 2010, past year’s projects has completed concrete perimeter fence and road leading to the park and around the building. I found that there were two projects approved in previous years for the rehabilitation of the building which I asked the city departments to implement at the same time adding more funds through a city ordinance to complete the two function halls and the hallway and inaugurated by May 23, 2012. These halls were opened to the public to use with a minimal rent and the park is open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm in the evening. Entrance is free and security is maintained on a 24 hour basis.
In the ensuing projects implemented, I was guided by the voluminous documents including the city ordinances and resolutions and the consultations done during the time of Vice Mayor Farinas. The city council has been firm in its stand to have it as a heritage and nature park. In one of the consultations that I attended at PMS, councilor Richard Carino and Rafael Tallocoy had explained to them that the city’s stand hang on to the property rather than convert it into a mining museum or a five star hotel.
I have worked for the declaration as a historical site by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). It was finally declared and the NHCP Marker was set in the property as the Dominican Hill and Retreat House. Henceforth, it cannot be used for any other purpose but preserved as a historical site.
One of the main stakeholders is the faithful and religious. A group started by Councilor Galo Weygan, continue the regular “First Wednesday Prayer meeting for the city.” The Guinness World Record Holder of the “Tallest Ten Commandments Building” is located inside the property.
Constructed in 201, 1 by the group of Grace Gupana and the Kingdom of Jerusalem Halleluyah Foundation. The Five Million (5M) building was donated to the city of Baguio during simple ceremonies, which obligates the city to maintain the property while the Gupana group maintains the sanctuary.
CEPMO is in charge of maintaining the park while City Buildings and Architecture (CBAO) is the department that maintains repair and construction needs of the building, and the City Engineering office (CEO) takes charge of rehabilitating the electrical and roads networks.
Last Wednesday we had the prayer meeting with Billy Morgan as the speaker. After the meeting we saw that the place which used to be the area for park nursery and outdoor toilets was closed and padlocked. There were men standing there and we were informed that they are staff of the D’Hive or Food Hive restaurant, but they were evasive when we asked them about the owner. The security guard sitting with them said that they operate every day and on weekends they are open until ten o’clock in the evening. We asked the restaurant staff for copy of their permit and they said it is inside and they are waiting for the boss to come and open. This was a new development to us and we were informed that they have started in February with a permit from Coleen Lacsama, Ruben Cervantes and the City Mayor.
The neighbors they said the D’hive restaurant serve beer and even use the lower function hall during the night. When we asked the staff, they said “wala kayong ebidensya.” Their face book page does advertise that they are open 10:00 am to 10:00 pm for food and drink. Somebody commented “bakit andito na naman taga Manila, kompetensya sa mga taga Baguio, walang galang sa kultura at historya. Tanong ko nga sa barangay kung bakit binigyan permit iyan.” Is this another move of CEPMO to convert this into a commercialized park?
And so it goes, at least two of those who worked for the transfer of the property from the PMS to the city have gone beyond and left this legacy to the city – Former Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas and my father Galo D. Weygan – may they continue to rest in peace!