Friday, February 2, 2007

19th century woe...


When I was a kid, I have always thought that there exists an old town with everybody dressed in 19th century garb walking on cobblestones. Of course, when I was a kid, I really don't know what's 19th century and cobblestones. but more or less, one would picture such not knowing what they are called. Textbooks from public elementary schools do have illustrations (yes, not pictures during our time).

It was three years ago when I first went to the old city. Where 'old' is mainly focused on one street-- Crisologo. And sprouts of restored houses of those who can afford around the gremio de mestizos of the city. Walking on Crisologo in cargo shorts made me wonder how long is its state going to last considering the cost of restoring a turn-of-the-century house is far more expensive than building a new one.

Years back, UNESCO declared the entire city a heritage site. Comes with the declaration is the prohibition of building cost-effective modern houses and structures within the site. Recently, a bill was passed that including the process of restoring should be faithfull to how it was built centuries ago. Considering the cost of bricks, lime and eggs, one can barely afford maintaining the torn walls of the ground floor of a typical bahay na bato.

Walking along Crisologo, I have noticed that more than half of the houses are already ready to be torn down. The soundness of the structure is highly questionable that one can ask why is it still not condemned. It could have been more progressive if the government spared some budget to restore the entire declared site before passing such prohibitions.

And while they are doing this, minimize putting chain of restaurants and stores near the main street and the plaza regardless of their efforts to follow 19th century architecture. The killer is their signages jutting above the structures totally out of context.