Heritage Conservation Society (HCS) held basic training for its members through its first heritage warriors boot camp for the year at Bureau of Treasury Building, Intramuros Manila last July 29, 2017. The Bureau of Treasury Building, as a reconstruction of the former Ayuntamiento de Manila, a significant historical structure, complements the cause of the day. It was an unpleasant rainy day but it was not a hindrance for the members as the room was almost filled. There were a few who intentionally flew from the provinces just to attend.
Members eager to hear filled the room.
As a starter, members were briefed on the basics: definition of its primary advocacy, built cultural heritage, and examples; followed by relevant laws, terminologies to know, threats, types of declarations, and most importantly, what to do on a demolition threat. Bringing together the community, the who’s who in cultural agencies involved in protecting intangible heritage- immovable heritage were introduced. After the enlightening basic lecture, HCS presents an advocate for action.
Isidra Reyes and her petition case for Palanca Mansion
If you are familiar with the Facebook group Manila Nostalgia, long time heritage advocate Isidra Reyes is the one behind it. At the boot camp, she presented her case study following the happenings of her petition to stop the demolition of a historically significant house in Pasay City, the so-called Palanca Mansion. The petition carried on for more than a year and ended at a loss. In her talk, she presented old photos and documents that one would find hard to find without careful and extensive research. Her depth of research garnered the audience’s attention as she was asked if one could find similar old documents by just searching on popularly accessible sites such as the internet. The answer was no.
Isidra Reyes presented her petition case on the now demolished, Palanca Mansion
After that momentum from Isidra Reyes’ case implying the struggles in lobbying a petition alone passed, it was time for the audience to raise their thoughts. The open forum was well participated. Among which, one from the real estate development industry, voiced his concern on the financial returns of investing in saving built heritage. The mood of the room was serious and anxious, anxious for the fate of the remaining built cultural heritage. Old members hope this camp would strengthen this community of individuals who cares for the future generation.
Officers and guest speaker seated as they hear the audience participate in the open forum. HCS Treasurer, Ivan Man Dy (holding the microphone) shared about consequences of apathy towards the built environment and heritage.
Being a member is being a heritage advocate. Someone who takes a stand, an initiative, an action, and as seemingly simple as writing a petition letter, a letter that in reality should be and happens to be intensive research focus like an investigator does. One letter can make or break history of built cultural heritage. There are many ways to show their cause, but one needs the heart, skill, and commitment to make things happen. One needs to be prepared.
On a lighter note, members who volunteered to assist with the organizers are having responsible fun. Younger officers attend to the registration and market-related merchandise with smiling faces.
The seminar ended with a quick guided tour of the marble hall just a level higher than the room where the seminar was held. Members received a copy of the lecture presentation particularly the basic terminologies after the event.