“… these old buildings do not belong to us only; that they have belonged to our forefathers, and they will belong to our descendants.” ~William Morris
I live right on the block east of the Laoag Central Elementary School (LCES). It pains me to hear that the Laoag City Government is renewing talks with Bellagio Holdings Inc. for its conversion into a mall. Last year, the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte, headed by former governor Michael Marcos Keon, vehemently opposed the idea of its relocation and turning the area into a mall. News quickly made the rounds. Key personalities from the Heritage Conservation Society came over and opposed the grand idea.
Blogger Ivan Henares posted on his blog…
“Another heritage school could soon become a victim of misplaced priorities if nothing is done to stop the rampage. The City Government of Laoag and the Diocese of Laoag have both agreed to demolish the Laoag Central Elementary School (LCES), a Gabaldon school building built in the 1924, to give way to a shopping mall! In fact, there are two Gabaldon buildings in LCES, the other being the Home Economics Building.
The bishop is so excited about relocating the school to a different location because of the income the mall lease would generate for his diocese. And so is the mayor for reasons only he knows. But the parents and teachers of the LCES, and a majority of the Laoag business community expressed strong opposition to the move in published manifestos printed in The Ilocos Times in November and December respectively.
It’s time to put a stop to this foolishness and greed! No to the demolition of a heritage school house! No to a shopping mall in Laoag’s already-congested historic core! Save the Laoag Central Elementary School.”
In an article on Inquirer. net, the Laoag City Mayor’s camp defended the school’s transfer.
In an attempt to block the LCES conversion, the Province of Ilocos Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed Provincial Ordinance 039-2009 “An Ordinance Imposing Moratorium In The Conversion Of Use And Demolition Of Buildings, Edifices, Relics, Establishments And Other Structures Deemed As Part Of The Cultural And Historical Heritage Found And Situated Within The Territorial Jurisdiction Of The Province Of Ilocos Norte And Imposing Penalty Thereof” (Read February 16-February 22 2009 issue, p. 10 of the Ilocos Times) Under Section 2 of the said ordinance, the Laoag Central Elementary School was named as one of the declared cultural and historical sites.
I find it rather amusing that while there are some people, such as Dr. Joven Cuanang of Sitio Remedios, trying to replicate the old-town feel of Ilocos, there are others who want to tear down this authentic old building in Ilocos Norte.
There are a thousand things I love about Ilocos. Laoag, my city, is on top of that list. It is forward-looking, but it is still laid-back, very livable and, really, my favorite city in the whole wide world. I am for progress, but I am also for the preservation and conservation of old structures which are only a few left. Can you imagine Laoag with just the City Hall, Sinking Bell Tower, Provincial Capitol, St. William’s Cathedral, Marcos Hall of Justice, Ilocano Heroes Hall and Museo Ilocos Norte to remind us, Laoagueños, of our culture and history? What do we want to leave behind for future generations to cherish?
Right where I live, I feel safe because the Fire Department is just a stone’s throw away. Our store may also benefit if and when a mall is erected close-by, but I still don’t want a mall in place of that beautiful area within the heart of the city.
There are other places in Laoag to build that mall. A mall will be a mall. People will still patronize it even if it is situated right next to the cemetery. But the Laoag Central Elementary School won’t be the same again if it is relocated. And then again, Laoag will definitely lose part of its charm.
As Victor Hugo said, “Let us, while waiting for new monument, preserve the ancient monuments.”