Did you know that under Joseph “Erap” Estrada’s six-year term as Manila mayor he had greenlighted five demolitions of presumed important cultural sites? These include theOld Meralco Building in Ermita, Angela Apartments and Admiral Hotel in Malate, Philbanking Building in the Port Area, and Philippine National Bank Building in Escolta.
The outgoing mayor was notorious for favoring developers over the welfare of cultural structures, and in his last remaining days as mayor, he almost added a new demolition project under his belt: the postwar Sta. Cruz Bldg. in Escolta.
Built in 1948, the building occupies the corner of Escolta St. and Plaza Sta. Cruz. Given that it is over 50 years old, it qualifies as a presumed important cultural property (ICP) under Article III, Section 5 of RA 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines issued a cease and desist order to stop its demolition which was slated as early as late last year.
The immediate suspension of all demolition activities by the developer Universal Realty Corporation is ordered effectively by NHCP.
According to a report by the Inquirer, the developer has not reached out to the cultural agency since the issuance of the COD.
“As of now, the management has not yet submitted the development plans. Since they have not conformed yet to the requirements, the CDO stays,” Wilmer Godoy of NHCP’s Historic Preservation Division told Inquirer.
Last Apr. 2, the administrators of the Escolta Facebook pages sought the help of heritage advocates online to figure a strong case for the Sta. Cruz Building’s significance.
Seb P. De Jesus a supporter of the page said, “Why not? The space is still usable granted it needs more than an aesthetic overhaul. But still, it is in a good position to become another hub (cultural, creative, mix-use) in a historical district. God knows how many structures have already been fallen in the name of “re-development.”
Another user pointed out that it is not just the structures that needed saving but also the stall owners inside the building that will likely lose their livelihood.
Header photo courtesy of Edgar Allan M. Sembrano for Inquirer.net