On behalf of the Heritage Conservation Society, it is with much gratitude that we thank the National Historical Commission (NHCP), under the leadership of its Chairman, Dr. Rene Escalante, and the National Museum (NM), under the leadership of its Director, Mr. Jeremy Barns, for their respective declarations on the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. We also note with much thanks the support of the Philippine Sports Commission, under its Chairman, Mr. William Ramirez, for the declaration.
The coalition of advocates that came together was formidable and played crucial roles in this fight. From leaders in the sports community – Karen Tanchanco-Caballero, Ed Piczon, Cynthia Carrion, and many others – to our allied organizations, including Advocates for Heritage Preservation under Tito Encarnacion rallying their members, from Christian Jacolbia in starting the change.org petition, gathering over 8,000 supporters, to Ching De Las Alas-Montinola and Menchu delas Alas-Concepcion as crucial links in telling the history of the site, and many sympathetic media professionals, as well as many, many others who supported this endeavor. The success of and gratitude for the declarations belongs to and is shared with all.
The NHCP and NM declared RMSC a national historical landmark, and an important cultural property, respectively. Under Republic Act No. 10066, a “historical landmark” refers “to sites or structures associated with events or achievements significant to Philippine history” while “important cultural property” refers to “property having exceptional cultural, artistic and historical significance to the Philippines”. With these two declarations, our national government has unequivocally declared that the RMSC deserves, among others, “funding for protection, conservation and restoration” and even protection during “times of armed conflict, natural disasters and other exceptional events that endanger the cultural heritage of the country”.
Crucially, these declarations emphasize that the destruction, demolition, damage, or unauthorized modification or alteration of the site is punishable by law with fines of at least PHP 200,000 or imprisonment of at least ten years.
We thus now call upon the City of Manila and prospective developers of the site to present their plans for redeveloping RMSC to the cultural agencies, but urge them as required by law to take into consideration the spirit of the place that embodies RMSC’s historical and cultural significance – that it is a civic open space for nation-building through sports – as well as its social, health and environmental values in the fabric of the country and the City of Manila itself.