By Jennifer C. Tilos
The Dumaguete Presidencia or City Hall was officially declared an “important cultural property” (ICP) by the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP).
NMP’s Cultural Properties Regulation Division Deputy Chief Raquel Flores said this property, under the law of the National Museum, passed as exemplary aesthetics, engineering, architecture, and history and social impacts.
Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo expected that this would be the start of community consciousness to preserve old structures that are historical monuments that will be a legacy for the future generations.
In the next three months, the National Museum can start putting in national treasures which are now deposited at the NMP.
Remollo said the original Presidencia will be transformed into a repository of the important artifacts of Dumaguete that date back as far as 500 BC, with most of them unearthed in Bacong, Negros Oriental.
Flores said that under the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, “the State shall promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources” and assures that the Presidencia’s protection, preservation, and promotion are intact.”
It qualifies as an ICP on account of it is designed by Juan M. Arellano, one of the country’s greatest architects, and possesses “exceptional cultural, artistic and/or historical significance” to the Philippines as defined by the Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act, the National Museum Act of 1998, and the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
The declaration of the Dumaguete Presidencia or City Hall, built in 1936, as an ICP entitles it to be granted government funding for its restoration, protection, and conservation by the National Museum.
Remollo welcomes the declaration as this will enhance the city’s reputation as a heritage destination.
The mayor expects that the Dumaguete Presidencia will become another tourist destination for heritage lovers and provide the next generation a better appreciation of the city’s rich culture and heritage.
The Dumaguete Presidencia is the fourth to be declared as an ICP in Negros Oriental after Silliman University, Sisters of Saint Paul of Chartres, and Bacong Church.
The building is currently undergoing restoration works with a budget of P49 million and will be converted into a branch of the NMP that will house artifacts and historical pieces of the city, province, and Central Visayas.
The National Museum (NM) is one of the lead government cultural agencies tasked to achieve the goals of instilling cultural consciousness and a sense of pride and nationalism among Filipino citizens through its activities covering the sciences, education, and culture.
To ensure the preservation and protection of cultural properties in the Philippines, NM is mandated to declare significant cultural properties as National Cultural Treasure or ICP.