A LANDMARK ordinance was passed in the heritage city of Silay in Negros Occidental province, giving 100-percent tax exemption for owners of heritage structures who properly maintain and adaptively reuse their properties.
The city, declared a heritage zone by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, boasts heritage houses and structures totaling over 30, a number of which date back to the Spanish colonial period.
“We want to preserve [the houses] and give incentives, that is why we had this legislation to give them 100-percent incentive in taxes,” said Silay Mayor José Montelibano.
Montelibano added that since maintenance of heritage houses required a lot of expenses, “we just cannot let [them] rot.”
“I hope a lot of LGUs [local government units] will also give these incentives because such will encourage the preservation of our heritage homes,” he said.
Aside from Silay, San Fernando City in Pampanga passed the same legislation in 2004 and Iloilo City in 2010, giving 50-percent tax exemption to heritage-structure owners who properly maintain their properties.
The bill was passed last year but it was only revealed during the Heritage Conservation Summit last month.
The summit, themed “Incentives for Conservation and Adaptive Reuse,” was organized by the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS) with the HCS Youth, City of Silay, Metrobank Foundation and Ayala Land, through the assistance of Silay City council’s committee on culture and heritage chair Neil Solomon Locsin, HCS president Ivan Henares and HCS board trustee Ivan Man Dy.
Mark Evidente, HCS secretary, explained giving incentives for heritage conservation was “to recognize that maintaining an older structure takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, money, passion.”
“If our laws, our government recognize that our heritage, our culture is worth protecting, then we have to adopt laws that help support people to make choices in favor of heritage,” said Evidente.
He cited as examples Iloilo and Silay.
“If we can imagine, for example, that an entire street will be maintained according to [proper] architectural design, then it helps the LGU preserve its identity, helps the LGU stand out and, in turn, promotes itself,” he added.
The preservation of heritage structures in Silay “helps define their history” and “adds to the identity of the community.”
Apart from real-estate tax exemption or discount for declared heritage structures, HCS has also proposed financial grants for restoration of declared public and private properties; technical assistance for restoration and conservation, as well as new construction in heritage zones and properties; and the transfer of development rights which will restrict high-rise buildings in heritage zones.
A tour of Negros Occidental capped the summit, with visits to the Juan Arellano-designed Provincial Capitol and Art Deco Villanueva House in Bacolod City; Balay ni Tana Dicang in Talisay City; Chapel of the Cartwheels and Gaston House in Manapla; Chapel of the Angry Christ in Victorias; and the Bernardino-Jalandoni House (now a museum) in Silay City.