Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Pambansang Photobomber and Baguio's own

JUST last year, National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) head Felipe de Leon met with some Baguio residents (including us) at Mt. Cloud Bookshop. He mentioned about huge buildings in Istanbul, Turkey that threatened the view of its western district of Zeytinburnu’s majestic silhouette of domes and spires that has remained unchanged for centuries, particularly the 400-year-old Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia.

De Leon said with glee that the Onalti Doyuz Residence, a trio of condominium towers of 27, 32 and 37 storeys, already called the Turkish photobombers, were ordered demolished by the Turkish Council of State after they approved a ruling by an Istanbul court that ordered the buildings’ demolition.

De Leon said that they will do the same with the DMCI Torre de Manila, which is being built near the Luneta and already distracting the view of the Rizal monument from the sunset horizon. He said that the NCCA was one of those which have called for the demolition of the Torre de Manila because of the distraction. It was already called the National Photobomber then.

We then admittedly like his dedication but we honestly believe it will not happen. How can you stop a multi-million peso building that would help in the alleviation of unemployment and would bring in millions of pesos in tourism, if we go by the usual rant? And it is much taller than the Onalti Doyuz as it plans to reach 46 storeys.

Well, we were so wrong! The Supreme Court ordered last week DMCI Project Developers, Inc. to stop the construction and development of its Torre De Manila condominium project.

Voting 8-5, the high court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of petitioner --- the Order of the Knights of Rizal --- which filed their petition in September 2014. And to think the justice most likely to rule against the Torre de Manila, Baguio boy Justice Marvic Leonen, was even out on-leave.

The Knights of Rizal filed the petition, saying that the Torre de Manila violates the constitutional provision on the conservation and promotion of the country's historical and cultural heritage: Republic Act (RA) No. 4846 (also known as the Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act) and RA No. 10066 (also known as the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009), as well as the Manila Zoning Ordinance. NCCA added that the building will cheapen the value of the surrounding historical landmarks, including the Rizal monument.

So what would be the implication to Baguio? A lot. We are a city of views. The Department of Tourism’s most favorite constructions are the viewpoints. They create viewpoints and then followed by restrooms. Look what they did with the Highest Point in Benguet. They created the viewpoint nook and in the process, successfully destroyed the view.

Look at what they and the local government allowed to happen with the Mines View Park. They destroyed the view by allowing the stalls to mushroom and now wanted to make the stalls into a multi-storey mall selling nothing but Baguio souvenirs.  

Look at what the city is helping to do with the football field. It wanted to raise the field into a multi-storey mall so we can have a nice view of the lake. So what did we do to the lake? We make it chocolate brown by allowing more buildings to pass their sewage there. Chocolate-brown looks better on selfies, right?

What did the LGU do with the last pine hill at the central business district? They allowed the cutting of the trees so we can have an unobstructed view of the city.

Yes, city hall has become the anti-photo bomber. It helps tourists take unobstructed view of themselves and the concrete buildings. So you mean tourists come here for the pine trees and the fresh air? That’s so baduy!

But wait! Today being Rizal Day, let’s look at our own Rizal Park and see what is obstructing the view? Yes, the city hall. The anti-photobomber is Rizal’s photobomber in Baguio.

Let’s have it demolished --- including its occupants --- if they don’t shape up? What do you think?*
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