Do we really need another high-rise in already crowded Chinatown?
This was the question heritage advocate Ivan Man Dy posed following information that one of the very few remaining prewar structures in Binondo, Manila, was going to be demolished and replaced with another very tall building.
The issue is the latest of a string of heritage conservation problems which have engulfed the city of Manila in the past years.
Since 2013, Manila has seen the demolition of the old Meralco building, Admiral Hotel, old Philippine National Bank Building, Capitol Theater, Life Theater and Philbanking Building, to name a few, to give way to new developments which are mostly high-rise residential buildings.
Uy Su Sin Building
The Uy Su Bin building located on Rosario Street is one of the last art deco apartments in Binondo and Manila in general, Dy said.
Dy, who conducts regular heritage and history tours in Binondo with Old Manila Walks, said the structure might have been constructed during the Commonwealth period, which makes the building a presumed Important Cultural Property under Republic Act 10066, the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
He described it as a “superb boutique apartment.”
Dy lamented the heritage losses of Manila in the past years.
“Quo Vadis, Manila?” he asked.
Free Press Building
Meanwhile, the Philippines Free Press building at the corner of Avenida Rizal and Soler in Quiapo, Manila, has recently been demolished.
A sign in front of the building says that the demolition permit was issued by the Manila City Hall in October 2018.
In a post in the Facebook group Manila Nostalgia, Isidra Reyes of the Heritage Conservation Society noted that the American-era building was used by Philippine Free Press from 1922 to 1942.
Philippine Free Press was founded in the early American period. The bylines of top writers like Nick Joaquin and Cesar Carunungan graced its pages before it was closed down by Ferdinand Marcos during martial law.
Reyes lamented the demolition. She said, “It is always an uphill battle trying to save our significant heritage buildings!” –CONTRIBUTED