Feb 24, 2020

Do we really need more high-rises to litter the Manila skyline?

We beg this question yet again after another historic building is torn down to make way for a “high-rise residential building.” This time, it’s the Ramona Apartments in Ermita, which we previously listed in our interactive story on seven heritage sites under threat.

First built in 1949, it was designed by architect Cesar Concio, who also designed the Neo-Romanesque Baclaran Church in Parañaque. Concio designed the building after the then-popular International Style, a post-war style of architecture that “became synonymous with corporate modernism during the period 1955-70” for its “sleek modern look, absence of decoration and use of steel and glass,” describes the Encyclopedia of Art and Design.

The building itself, named after owner Doña Ramona Gonzalez Favis, was both a commercial and residential structure, and it remained that way until its recent demolition. Former tenants include beauty queen and activist Maita Gomez, writer and CCP president and artistic director Chris Millado and Luz Gallery, owned and curated by late National Artist Arturo Luz, which “for more than four decades… showcased the best local artists.” 

According to Inquirer.net, its current owner, an unnamed businessman, was the one who had it demolished to replace it with a high-rise. The article also quoted Heritage Conservation Society trustee Isidra Reyes, who said that the heritage body had notified cultural agencies about the move to tear down the presumed important cultural property last year to no avail.

“We have lost a lot of our valuable heritage buildings due to lack of consistent enforcement of our heritage law, the lack of coordination between our LGUs, building officials, and GCAs, fear of being subjected to lawsuits by our moneyed developers, rising real property prices, rising real property taxes and cost of upkeep, passage of ownership to heirs, and lack of incentives for heritage building owners to keep, maintain and put to adaptive reuse their heritage buildings,” she said. “If this apathy and lack of coordination continue, we may wake up one day to a country bereft of history and heritage.”

Aside from the Ramona Apartments, two other historic structures have also been recently demolished. An Art Deco building built in 1948 on the corner of Binondo’s Norberto Ty and Tomas Pinpin Streets was recently torn down, according to heritage advocate Ivan Man Dy. Don Roque del Fierro Trinidad House, a Beaux-Arts style house built in the 19th century in Zambales, was also destroyed despite protests. 


Photo courtesy of Sherwin Nasol

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Read more:

Gabaldon school buildings will now be protected—but who is Gabaldón?

Centuries-old cemetery in La Union was demolished to make way for a cockpit arena

Pre-war Art Deco apartment demolished without due process

TAGS: cultural heritage demolished historical preservation nolisoli.ph ramona apartments