THERE is hope for the old Patria de Cebu building after all.
Heritage advocate and architect Melva Java told Superbalita Cebu that the decision to demolish the old Patria building is not yet final.
Java said that during their meeting last Saturday, Dec. 29, no final decision was made to demolish the 64-year-old building as there are still some discussions with Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI) on a possible adjustment to its original plan.
Java said the CLI plans to convert the property where the Patria is standing into a parking area for its new development.
“So we pointed out it will be very sad if a heritage structure is removed to make way for cars. So we thought there are other possibilities where cars can be parked. There are so many solutions to this problem, I don’t see any problem regarding parking,” she said.
Aside from Java, the meeting was attended by members of the Archdiocesan Commission on Culture and Heritage, officials of CLI led by its president and chief executive officer Jose Soberano III, his son Jose Franco and members of the Pastoral Planning Board and other officials of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma presided over the meeting.
Java said the late president Ramon Magsaysay inaugurated the Patria de Cebu building when it opened to the public in 1954.
The Patria’s recreation center was constructed by members of the Student Catholic Action and students of the University of San Carlos.
The building is considered an important cultural property and is under the protection of Republic Act 10066, or the National Cultural Heritage Act of the Philippines, which states that protection should be given to buildings that are 50 years and older.
Java reminded CLI that the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, which is considered holy ground, shouldn’t be included in the new development.
“So I just emphasize the fact that the holy ground where processions and liturgical ceremonies happen, should be defined as a holy ground although gikan sa simba, makalabang didto sa pikas (from mass, they can go across the road) for recreation,” she said.
Java urged developers to turn the lobby of the old Patria into a “transition point” from the Cathedral’s holy ground to the recreational area of the CLI.
“It is a very nice solution and if they are amenable, it will also be a very good point for the Soberanos and the (Cebu) Landmasters. It will show them that they are very sensitive to history and to heritage. It may even be an example to other business people who might build in the historic urban core, which is the area,” she said.
Palma said there should be more meetings among the CLI, the archdiocese and heritage experts on how to reach a compromise in implementing the new development and saving the old Patria.
The CLI is investing P1 billion to develop a shopping center, construct some buildings, restaurants, a Rome-inspired public plaza and a hotel on the site where the old Patria is located. (from SCG of SuperBalita Cebu/JKV)