UST-CCCPET holds forum on planned demolition of heritage structures in Manila

The University of Santo Tomas Graduate School-Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics (USTGS-CCCPET) held on September 15, 2020 a forum among heritage stakeholders coming from various institutions and concerned groups streamed live via the center’s Facebook page. 

The forum discussed the controversial planned demolition of the Philamlife Theater on United Nations Avenue and the Old Sunico House in San Nicolas both located in Manila. Completed in 1961, the Philamlife Building in International Style architectural gem designed by Architect Carlos Arguelles, the dean of the UST School of Architecture from 1954 to 1959. The Sunico House, meanwhile was built in the 19th century and housed the foundry of Hilario Sunico, the famed bell caster of the late 19th to early 20th centuries.  Sunico produced more than 180 bells for churches in the country, which are still being used today. Both structures are going to be demolished as approved by national cultural agencies to give way to new development. 

USTGS-CCCPET Director Dr. Eric B. Zerrudo said the forum served as an academe- industry linkage which seeks to set examples on discussions on heritage issues in the country. 

Erik Akpedonu of Ateneo de Manila University presented the significance of the Old Sunico House while architectural scholar Lorelei de Viana presented the importance of the said edifice. The heritage contexts of both structures was meanwhile presented by researcher and journalist EA Sembrano, an alumnus of the cultural heritage studies program of the UST Graduate School. 

The forum was attended by a number of concerned groups and academic institutions all over the country. Among those that attended were the Philippine Institute of Interior Design, Philippine Institute of Architects, Council of Interior Design Education, Heritage Conservation Society ICOMOS Philippines, Escuela Taller, Tropiks Design, Vigan Conservation Council, Iloilo’s Coalition of the Willing, and Grupo Kalinangan, among others. 

Representatives of schools such as Mapúa University, University of Santo Tomas, University of San Carlos Cebu, University of Mindanao, National University, La Consolacion University Negros also attended the online heritage conservation event. These groups gave their sides on both buildings and heritage conservation in general, stressing the importance for the preservation of these historic structures. 

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