Arguing that another shopping mall would not do any good on the cultural development of Manila, heritage advocates scored Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada’s plan to convert the prewar Rizal Memorial Coliseum into a shopping complex.
City Hall has announced the development would be carried out in a joint venture with businessman Enrique Razon.
Rizal Memorial Coliseum, located inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, was built in 1934 in the Art Deco style. It was designed by architect Juan Arellano, and has been historic host to various local and international sporting events.
“Does Manila really need another shopping mall?” asked Heritage Conservation Society president Ivan Henares about the City Hall plan.
“It’s architectural, historical and cultural significance—being the national stadium, an Art Deco masterpiece of Arellano, and host to significant national, regional, and continental sporting events in our nation’s history are more than enough reasons to call for its protection,” he said.
Heritage advocate Liliane Manahan echoed Henares’ statement and suggested the structure be adaptively reused to preserve its “architectural integrity and assign it a more creative purpose than just a mall, or restore and even upgrade the edifice and keep it for its original intent” for Manila to have more interesting architectural landmarks.
“One thing I will never understand is why a significant edifice filled with historical moments that define a specific time has to be demolished to give way to yet another modern building with yet another mundane use,” Manahan said.
The City Hall announcement came despite a meeting last May between Estrada and officials of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) led by its chair, Felipe de Leon Jr.
In the meeting, Estrada and the City Hall promised to cooperate with NCCA on cultural conservation, said NCCA cultural heritage section officer Edison Molanida.
The meeting, in fact, had been initiated by City Hall and arranged by building official Roberto Bernardo, added Molanida.
Molanida said that City Hall never consulted NCCA on Estrada’s Rizal Memorial Coliseum plan.
Angel Bautista, the National Museum’s cultural properties and regulatory office head, said under the National Heritage Law of 2009, the sports stadium is a “presumed important cultural property.” —CONTRIBUTED