Preserving Patria de Cebu
That Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma spoke out in favor of dismantling Patria de Cebu to give way to the construction of a public piazza, hotel, department store and other commercial structures is not only a major disappointment to heritage advocates but it may provide something of a key opening to President Rodrigo Duterte, a staunch critic of the Church.
That the President may question whether or not the Cebu Archdiocese is benefiting from allowing some of its property to be developed commercially without paying taxes may be a remote and farfetched possibility.
But one can never tell with Mr. Duterte who uses every opportunity he can get to take potshots at Church leaders whom he targets for their criticism on his war on drugs, however moderated their questioning may be.
Still, there is little that can be done perhaps outside of the likelihood of direct national government intervention to stop the venture with a developer to take down Patria de Cebu, both a former recreational youth center and convent for nuns that is now used as a hostel for budget travelers.
That it is, in fact, being used at all is a concern for Palma who cited an assessment by the Church’s architect that the structure is unsafe for occupancy and thus must be taken down.
Though there are counter claims by some heritage advocates that Patria de Cebu should be a protected heritage site and it can be preserved through alternative architectural designs without sacrificing the Church’s plans to allow commercial development of the site should be carefully assessed, though the wheels of development may be turning out too fast and it’s too late to stop, let alone have a dialogue with the Church and the developer on it.
Public sentiment may play a part, but it has yet to be determined conclusively if there is enough of it outside of those who sympathize with the heritage advocates and those who remembered and appreciated Patria de Cebu beyond its material value that will oppose Patria de Cebu’s demolition and persuade Palma to even reconsider.
If anything heritage advocates should be given the time of day by the Church leadership to validate their position for Patria de Cebu’s preservation and even integration into the commercial development plan laid out by the developer.
If there is any way to preserve Patria de Cebu without compromising the safety of occupants, then it should be given a chance.
This is not merely sentimentalism, it’s about keeping intact a piece of history in that area which cannot be pegged in monetary
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