Cabaero: Call to action

A SUNSTAR multimedia report on “Making and remaking Patria de Cebu” presented a fact not commonly known, and elicited a call to action.

The Ave Maria hollow blocks, the drive for funds and tension with informal settlers showed how the Patria was a result of dedication and perseverance. All these might be lost once development work for a project will demolish the structure. Thus, a heritage conservation expert, issued a plea to keep the Patria.

In 1954, young Catholics decided to build their own recreation center as Church leaders prevented them from going to the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) which was not Roman Catholic. A project site was identified but they had to deal with informal settlers and they had to find money for it. Students made their own hollow blocks and prayed over these with a Hail Mary (Ave Maria). Thus, the name Ave Maria blocks.

Father Brian Brigoli, Cebu Archdiocese heritage commission chairman, promised that sacrifices of students and Father Bernard Wrocklage, SVD, who led the students, initiated fund-raising here and abroad, and faced an enraged bolo-wielding resident who opposed the Patria project, would not be forgotten. An Ave Maria block marker and a diorama would “perpetuate the story and the memory of the Patria building,” he said.

The Cebu Archdiocese and developer Cebu Landmasters Incorporated (CLI) agreed to tear down the Patria building and create a Rome-inspired public plaza, a mall and hotel.

Comments made on the online reports were diverse – there were those who looked forward to seeing the development in this lifetime, those who saw it mainly as a way for the Church to get money, and those who disagreed with the plan.

Melva Java, heritage conservation architect, issued a plea to save the Patria. The Patria story “of having been built through extraordinary efforts by students, priests and citizens make it very meaningful for the people,” she said. “That deserves respect from us. Please, let us save the building.”

She added in another post that the plan to revitalize the Patria compound deserves support.

“But it should be done by saving the Patria building from demolition,” she added, “Because it can be incorporated within the planned new development. Old and new serving the people together. We are recycling plastic bottles, aluminum and tin cans...the more we need to save also our historic resources. Structures that have remained strong and serviceable. This is a plea for the protection of Patria building from a planned demolition.”

There should be discussion on the plan and the plea while there is still time.


Talking about action, there was a lot of it in the days when tropical depression Samuel passed Cebu. Local officials and disaster preparedness units took action to prevent death and destruction. Cebu had zero casualty.

There were comments of overreaction or overkill in the preparations but that was the point of going into heightened alert. To be ready.


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