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The legacy of architect Ramon Zaragoza in the heritage sites he helped bring back to life

The legacy of architect Ramon Zaragoza in the heritage sites he helped bring back to life

Christian San Jose
Heritage conservation and restoration icon Ramon Ma. Zaragoza passed away on Jul. 4 at 73. He was the son of National Artist for Architecture Jose Ma. Zaragoza. Just like his father, Ramon was also a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas College of Architecture, and later of the Escuela Tecnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid in Spain where he specialized in town planning and urban renewal.
Ramon Zaragoza speaking at a forum at Adamson University in 2017. Photo courtesy of Adamson University
Zaragoza was also an active scholar who wrote books on Philippine heritage and culture such as Old Manila (1990), Philippines: Images of the Past (1993), and Ramon Zaragoza: Art of Restoration (2005) among others. He’s also been recognized by the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA) for his restoration, conservation and town planning work. He received the CCP Gawad Gintong Likha for Restoration in 2012. In memory of this heritage advocate, we listed down some of the heritage sites in the country that he has helped restore to what they are today.


André Héroux/Wikimedia Commons
Ramon’s fervent interest in architecture runs in his family, where his father was the lead architect in the restoration of Intramuros, their family’s involvement goes way back. The old Santo Domingo Church in the walled city was in fact designed by his father’s granduncle Félix Roxas Sr. in 1864. Rene Javellana wrote of the younger Zaragoza’s involvement in the restoration of Intramuros in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Encyclopedia of Philippine Art saying, “as an advocate of heritage conservation, he succeeded his father in working in the restoration of Intramuros from 1980 to 1990.” Ramon was particularly credited for the parts of Fort Santiago which include its bastions, moats, bridges, and gate. He was also involved in the restoration of San Agustin Church and the overall lighting and landscaping of Intramuros.


vigan cobblestone tito encarnacion
Photo courtesy of Tito Encarnacion
Long before, Vigan is a world-renowned heritage city, it was Zaragoza who first took interest in the restoration of its street lined with ancestral houses. He himself acquired a property there in 1998, an 18-century mansion which he converted into Villa Paz later known as Museo Zaragoza. It was he who pushed for the adaptive reuse of these hundred-year-old houses and for the closing of Crisologo St. to traffic.

Churches all over the country

Sta. Ana Church. Photo courtesy of Ramon FVelasquez/Wikimedia Commons
Just like his father, Ramon took a particular liking to the restoration of many churches (Jose Zaragoza was credited for the new look of Quiapo church). Some of his most notable works include the Sta. Ana Church in Pampanga built in the 1850s, the 17th-century chapel Ermita de San Nicolas Tolentino in West Rembo, Makati, and a few old churches in Bohol, which were unfortunately destroyed by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit the province in October 2013.  

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