Editorial: Death of a building

(Editorial Cartoon by Josua Cabrera)

RELIEVED and elated in the victory of governor-elect Gwendolyn Garcia are the heritage advocates. The looming P1.3-billion, 20-story juggernaut Capitol Resource Center, which Gov. Hilario Davide III had been pushing during his current and closing term, will most likely not see the light of day.

The building, if given its way, would be an oddity that will stick out disrespectfully against the grand presence of the Capitol building.

The position of Cebu Province’s seat of power at the north end of Osmeña Blvd. is no accident, but a highly precise urban aesthetic feat. The boulevard’s grand perspective sets off at the foot of the Fort San Pedro and goes straight up to the Capitol. The design, conceived by William E. Parsons in his 1912 plan, was part of the City Beautiful Movement, a 1900’s reform philosophy that advocated grandeur and beauty in urban architecture.

Filipino architect Juan M. Arellano designed the Capitol building, much of its facade resembled his other masterworks, namely, the Manila Metropolitan Theater, the Legislative Building (now the National Museum of the Philippines), and the Manila Central Post Office.

From the top, one can see that the Capitol has an H-shaped plan, its facade opens up to the end of the boulevard. Time and the oblivious outgrowth of vertical structures along the road eroded the memory of the urban masterplan and if that wasn’t bad enough, we have a bunch of bureaucrats who, utterly naive in matters of heritage and design, is bent on erecting an odd promontory at the side of the grand edifice. Worse, the decision to build that center reflected a single-minded resolve that dismissed other voices in the policy-making.

Anyway, Garcia, the governor who once championed culture and heritage programs in the Province, had been clear enough in her opposition to Davide’s flagship building.

In March 2019, the governor-elect had filed an injunction case before the court in Toledo City to prevent infrastructure projects in a portion of the Capitol compound. She also filed criminal and administrative complaints against Davide, other Capitol officials, contractor WT Construction Inc. and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

“First of all, we are not going to take out a loan. I have maintained the Province debt-free during my term. All of these will be reviewed,” Garcia said.


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