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Sagada declares Mission Compound as heritage zone

Positive developments on heritage also noted in General Santos City and province of Bulacan 

Text and photos by Edgar Allan M. Sembrano, Contributor

The Sagada municipal council together with the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon (ENDP) has declared Sagada's Mission Compound as a heritage zone through Joint Resolution No. I, Series 2017, ensuring the protection and preservation of its American period historic center.
Heritage zone is defined by the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 as “historical, anthropological, archaeological, artistic geographical areas and settings that are culturally significant to the country, as declared by the National Museum and/or the National Historical Institute.”
However, the law does not prevent local government units from declaring areas in their respective places as heritage zones.
In the declaration, “the ENDP Standing Committee has deemed it beneficial to declare the Mission Compound as a Heritage Zone of the Church and the Sagada Community considering the need for partners in restoration and preservation of the existing original buildings, which are in a state of dilapidation, as well as the protection and preservation of the ‘green zone’ from degradation and the protection of the whole Mission Compound from encroachment.”
It also underscored the importance "of the immense contribution of the Church through its mission center in the Mission Compound to the cultural and spiritual transformation and socio-economic development of Sagada and its invaluable impact on the town's tourism industry."

Original buildings
The Anglican compound, which is more than a hundred years old, is located in the poblacion area of the town and was established by pioneering missionary Rev. John A. Staunton Jr. in 1904. It still has four of its original structures, which are of wood — an American colonial architectural legacy reminiscent of the heritage buildings the Americans built in the colonial hillstation of Baguio.
These buildings were the Girls' School, later called Girls' Dormitory, which was constructed in 1907; Boys' Dormitory or Lyceum completed in 1920; the 1915 Mission Office or the Igorot Exchange Store; and the Printing or Machine Shop, which was also completed in 1915.
The present Church of St. Mary the Virgin was a reconstruction after it was destroyed during World War II.
Other heritage edifices in the Mission Compound include the St. Mary's School and the St. Theodore Hospital, which originally started as a clinic in 1904.
It also includes the Convent of the Sisters of St. Mary the Virgin, the Holy Child Orphanage (now St. Joseph Resthouse), the 1950s Montañosa Research and Development Center and the cemetery on Cavalry Hill, the final resting place of notable historian William Henry Scott.
Adjacent to the Calvary Hill are limestone cliffs that serve as the traditional burial ground of the people of Sagada.
Popular among tourists is the area of the hanging coffins.

Industrial aspect
The declaration also notes the vibrant industrial dimension of the Mission Compound in the pre-war years with a number of shops and buildings serving various purposes.
It notes that by 1915, the Mission Compound had four stone quarries, two lime kilns, a planing mill, machine shops, a printing press, carpentry shops and vegetable gardens aside from a number of cows, carabaos and horses.
By then, it also had an assortment of buildings housing a clinic, dormitories, quarters for missionaries with electricity and telephones, school, shops, stores and supplies.
Together with the declaration, a technical working group was also created for the heritage zone's recognition by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

General Santos City
In General Santos, the local government is set to declare its World War II bunkers as local cultural treasures for their importance to the history and heritage of the city known before as Buayan.
The bunkers, which number to at least 44, were constructed by the Japanese Imperial Army in anticipation of the possible invasion of the American forces in the area during the waning days of the war.
War historian Ricardo Trota José explained that these structures, which are located in a number of coastal and riverine barangays in the city, were built mid or late 1944.
He said the American invasion was originally planned to land in that part of Mindanao, but General Douglas MacArthur decided to land instead in Leyte and changed the date of his return after finding out the weak Japanese air defenses.
"By so doing he nullified the importance of the Japanese bunkers in General Santos," he said.
José added that these bunkers were seized from the back because the American military operations in Mindanao started in the Parang area of present-day province of Maguindanao.
Similar bunkers are also found in other places in the country, he said, but only a few remain.
"There were some in Leyte (I think one might still be there), at least one in Talisay, Cebu, facing the beach; and another one in [Silay], Negros Occidental near the airport," he said.
"Then there used to be (not sure if any still exist) in the Fort Bonifacio/Nichols Field area [and] two were very near Terminal 4, but these are gone now," he added, explaining that these structures "were of different designs, depending perhaps on the officers in the field."
Aside from these, a few bunkers were also constructed near Iloilo City, but these were to counter the guerrilla threat in that area during the War, he said.

Province of Bulacan
In Bulacan, the concrete pediment added to the facade of its Juan Arellano-designed capitol building has been demolished upon orders by governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado.
Heritage advocate Osie Bautista said it was added in 2014 under the administration of Alvarado, but was recently taken down upon recommendations by conservationists since it is inappropriate and does not fit into the historical fabric of the building.
Bautista lauded the governor for his move and called for continued concern and care for the built heritage of the province, the relics of its rich history and colorful culture, as well as symbols of their true identity as a progressive, developed and courageous community.
She, however, said that the remaining added portion, which was retained and converted into a parapet, should also be demolished.

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