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Manila, the appointed capital of the Philippines, which is greatly recognized for its

historical value, due to its existing heritage architecture, tells the countrys past and origin to the
Filipinos of today. Its rich history became the core of the Filipino virtues and culture that were
still brought upon until the present. Manila, also as being witness of the history of the
Philippines growth and decline, serves as the storybook of the nation and the medium for
awareness and nationalism.
At present, the capital city of Manila is at the brink of decline due to its lack of
community and heritage insistence. Its historical value and culture that was built upon the city
for centuries, is being unrecognized due to the nations negligence and desire to survive in the
In Dan Browns Inferno, he wrote: I have run through the gates of hell, as the
protagonist in his novel walked through the streets of Manila. He also pointed out Manilas sixhour long traffic jams, suffocating pollution, miserable sex trade involving young women, urban
migration, poverty, and the congestion of mass transportation. This novel served as the wake-up
call for the commencement of the study.
The study will tackle the urban problems of Manila and its impact to the existing and
surrounding environment. The proponents will discuss about its idealisms in the field of urban
planning solutions and other branching fields. Also, they will deliberate the effective activation
of the city community and the recognition of Manilas enriching culture and heritage serving as
its edge with the other neighboring countries.

The study will also enlighten its readers to understand the risks of rapid urbanization,
poor environmental quality, severe traffic congestion, substandard public amenities,
socioeconomic inequity, community deterioration and its effective scientific solutions.



The study will analyze the scientific urban planning and design solutions for the

development of the City of Manila and the general impact of its present disputes to its
surrounding environment and how the proponents resolve the following problems:


Regeneration of the Manila community in terms of:

Economic Cycle
Strengthening of Manilas heritage, its character and sense of place.
Manilas heritage area and its connection to the people and natural environment.
Zoning and land use in the city of Manila.
Congestion that affects the original beauty of the city


The main objective of the study- Redesign Manila project is to activate the
once glorified city of Manila which had become the congested city for urban migration.
The research will provide solutions mitigating the major urban issues the city faces
nowadays including urban mobility, congestion or overcrowding, and lack of pedestrian
spaces. Also, the study aims to regenerate the peoples understanding and appreciation for
heritage buildings that reflects the history and culture of the Filipinos. This would trigger
nationalism among people through architectural translation. The study will only limit its

analyzation within a 100km radius of the given site having its focal point on the
Metropolitan Theater and shall only limit the scope of solutions through design and
planning solutions in architectural manner.



Anthropological Area shall refer to any place where studies of specific ethnolinguistic groups are undertaken, the properties of which are of value to our cultural

Cultural Property shall refer to all products of human creativity by which a people
and a nation reveal their identity, including churches, mosques and other places of
religious worship, schools and natural history specimens and sites, whether public or

privately-owned, movable or immovable, and tangible or intangible;

Heritage Zone shall refer to historical, anthropological, archaeological, artistic
geographical areas and settings that are culturally significant to the country, as declared

by the National Museum and/or the National Historical Institute.

Historical Landmarks shall refer to sites or structures that are associated with events
or achievements significant to Philippine history as declared by the National Historical

Historical Monuments shall refer to structures that honor illustrious persons or

commemorate events of historical value as declared by the National Historical Institute;

Historical Shrines shall refer to historical sites or structures hallowed and revered for

their history or association as declared by the National Historical Institute;

Important Cultural Property (ICP) shall refer to a cultural property having
exceptional cultural, artistic, and historical significance to the Philippines, as shall be
determined by the National Museum and/or National Historical Institute;

National Cultural Treasure shall refer to a unique cultural property found locally,
possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is highly
significant and important to the country and nation, and officially declared as such by
pertinent cultural agency;


Data Gathering
The researches garnered necessary data and information through researches,
books, studies, articles and other excerpts that is essential for the success of the research
Completion of Documents
Necessary documents that may help the research output was garnered and
compiled for its analyses and applications. Certain ordinances like the Comprehensive
Land Use Plan (CLUP) was realized in the local government of Manila. Also, suitable
laws like the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 (RA 10066) was collected from the
National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) with as-built existing plans of the
Metropolitan Theater, all of which are necessary for the completion of the research



1. The Past and Present of Manila Heritage Area

For the researchers to fully succeed with their study objectives, they must first
objectify the history of Manila, for wider and extensive understanding of its origin, culture,
tradition, and development up to the present condition of the capital city of Manila.
(Zaragosa, 1990) quoted that: The French navigators and historians described
Manila as: best situated city in the world and destined to become one day the center of
commerce and trade of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, according to Schurz, (1959).1
Like the first civilizations that emerged all around the world, Manilas adjacency to the
Pasig River and Manila Bay was a great factor for communities and civilizations to grow in
the area for the potential of survival and cyclic trade and commerce.
By the early 16th century, a walled Muslim City called Maynilad was there. In
1571, the Spanish destroyed the Muslim settlement. They built a walled city and churches
(Intramuros), and soon Manila became the center of Roman Catholicism in Asia. The Spanish
held Manila (except for a British occupation, 1762-63) until 1898. In that year, during the
Spanish-American War, the United States defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay and took
the Philippines. In 1942, during the World War II, the Japanese took Manila. When it was
recaptured by the U.S. forces in 1945 it suffered heavy damage. In 1948, the capital was
moved to nearby Quezon City, but in 1976 it was returned to Manila. 2
Asuncion, J. D. (2003) said that: Available historical records reveal that Manila was
already an established entreport and a political and military center of the region around the
Manila bay even before the coming of the Spaniards under the rule of the older Rajah
1 Old Manila by Ramon Ma. Zaragoza; Oxford University Press, 1990; p. 24
2 Lexicon Universal Encyclopedia; Lexicon Publications Inc, New York, 1992; Volume 13, p.118

Matanda and a younger co-ruler Rajah Sulayman in the 16th Century. The king of Spain was
delighted by this conquest awarded the city a coat of arms and the grandiose title The noble
and ever loyal City3
The Spanish and Americans, in their regime in the city territory, influenced great
characters and principles for architecture and planning in the city and also triggered more of
the civilizations growth and development.
The American period brought in the Philippines new concepts in town planning.
Daniel Burnham and Pierce Anderson, well-known Chicago architects and town planners,
were asked to prepare a master plan of Manila. Burnham laid out development plans for
the new government offices. The Burnham plan for Manila was influential in the design of
other cities in the country. William Parson continued the task of building Manila and
successfully combined a mixture of Spanish, Oriental and Modern Industrial buildings to
forge a new architecture for the tropics (Zaragosa, 1990) 4
Davis-Asuncion (2003) stated that, the rehabilitation of the city was accelerated with the
founding of the New Philippine Republic. The rapid rural-urban migration following the
post-war period saw the transformation of the city into a bustling metropolis.

Manila has

historically served as the center of activities in the country since the Pre-Spanish time.

3 An Examination of the Local Government Land Re-evaluation Process: The Case of

the City of Manila study by Jocelyn B. Dawis-Asuncion; School of Urban and Regional
Planning University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, April 2003, p. 55
4 Old Manila by Ramon Ma. Zaragoza; Oxford University Press, 1990; p. 45-46
5 An Examination of the Local Government Land Re-evaluation Process: The Case of
the City of Manila study by Jocelyn B. Dawis-Asuncion; School of Urban and Regional
Planning University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, April 2003, p. 59

Manila was the first primate city of Southeast Asia establishing its position during the
opening years of the 17th century. During the late 19th century, small Chinese-dominated,
central business districts began to emerge in the city. The retailing of goods in Manila was
concentrated along Escolta in Binondo. Simultaneously, the residential pattern of affluent
Spanish families underwent decentralization. The significant event that took place was the
location of Malacaang Palace in San Miguel as the summer residence for the Governors.

July 31, 1901, Manila became the first chartered city under the American Regime. In October
1903, when the 20th century City Beautiful movement was in vogue in the united states,
Secretary of was William H. Taft through the Philippine Commission requested Burnham and
Anderson to prepare a plan for the improvement of Manila. 7
Unfortunately, these plans were never fully recognized and carried out until the rapid
development of the city up until the present.
Manila is now experiencing the same problems that every other city in the
Philippines is facing in terms of urban planning. As said by Camea (2011), Cities in the
Philippines developed without taking full advantage of their environmental assets. Urban
centers along the sea, bay, or any body of water would have been terrific hubs for the
Philippine archipelagic republic. On the contrary, the cities grew without the benefit of
proper urban and regional planning. 8

6 An Examination of the Local Government Land Re-evaluation Process: The Case of

the City of Manila study by Jocelyn B. Dawis-Asuncion; School of Urban and Regional
Planning University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, April 2003, p. 77
7 An Examination of the Local Government Land Re-evaluation Process: The Case of
the City of Manila study by Jocelyn B. Dawis-Asuncion; School of Urban and Regional
Planning University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, April 2003, p. 78

Manila is now at the brink of losing its history in architecture and planning due to its
rapid and unplanned growth and decline. This issues are now on-hand with the national
government, the local government of Manila, NCCA (National Conservation of Culture and
Arts) and other private sectors.

2. The Metropolitan Theater

The Metropolitan Theater or commonly known as Met, is a heritage
architecture masterpiece existing in the heritage area of Manila until the present. Its recent
restoration by the NCCA (National Conservation for Culture and Arts) was the start of the
Met being the peoples theater.
According to Torre (1981), the idea to construct a theatre which Manilans
(citizens of Manila) could call their own came in 1924 when the Philippine Legislature
approved a project by Senator Alegre to build a peoples theater in the Mehan Gardens (now
Sining Kayumanggi). It wasnt until six years later that the cornerstone was laid on a small
part of 8,293.58 square meters of public land. Its grand inauguration on December 10, 1931
triggered a colorful, rich line-up of zarzuelas, dramas, and translations of foreign classics and
stage shows that were to be presented before and during the war years. 9
The Met, which was constructed in 1931 by Architect Juan Arellano was able to
accommodate 1,670 people, 846 seated in the orchestra, 116 in the loge, and 708 in the
balcony sections, during its heyday. The art deco style theater however was almost ruined
8 "Urban Planning in the Philippines" article by K. Delgado Camea for DURP class
P201;, March 22, 2011
9 Landmarks of Manila: 1571-1930 by Visitacion R. De La Torre; Visitacion R. de la
torre & Filipinas Foundation Inc., 1981, p.94

during World War II. It was rebuilt in 1978 by former First Lady Imelda Marcos. The
Metropolitan Theaters condition deteriorated and decayed in the early 90s before it was
finally closed down in 1996 following a long-running dispute between the GSIS
(Government Service Insurance System) and the City of Manila over its ownership and
management. In 2004, the GSIS and city government finally agreed to set aside the
differences, and, with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, signed a tripartite
agreement on the structures restoration.10 (Postrado, 2010)
At June 10, 2015, NCCA and GSIS formally signs the deed of absolute sale of the
historic Metropolitan Theater and until today, it is closed to the Filipino public by the city
government for the betterment of its ongoing restoration.

3. The GSIS Building

10 "The Met declared a national treasure" article by Leonard D. Postrado, Manila

Bulletin, issue dated June 24, 2010


The old Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) building in A. Villegas

(formerly Arroceros) Street in Manila, near the Manila City Hall, was designed by Ar.
Federico S. Illustre and was constructed between the years 1952 and 1954. Ilustre's career
witnessed the alteration of Civic Architecture from its colonial phase up to the
development of a distinct Filipino Modern Architecture. Thus, Illustre designed the
structure with a style thats a synthesis between neoclassical and modernist styles. This is
exhibited using elements and proportioning from the classical style mixed with the
aesthetics of modern buildings. A good example would be evident in the structures
faade, the series of fluted pillars that had neither bases nor capitals expressed a
simplified modern style while maintaining the character of classical proportions. The
corner of the building had been rounded, forming a corner tower with three vertical bays
of windows ascending from the entrance canopy. To the left of this corner tower, a flat
wall was fenestrated with vertical louvers and pierced screen insets. The elevation in the

other corner was defined by horizontal bands of windows and concrete planes. (Lico,
2008) 11
During the late 1980s, the employees had to leave although there was nothing generally
wrong with the GSIS building because the system was moved to a new building in the
Manila Bay Reclamation Area in Pasay City. By the year 2005, former President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo issued a proclamation stating that the City of Manila having its own
Hall of Justice. The former president transferred the old building site of the GSIS in
Ermita, Manila to the Supreme Court to improve the infrastructure of the justice system.
The following year (2006), the five-storey building lost its strength due to a fire. The fire
was raised from 2nd alarm to 5th alarm in just a matter of 3 hours. During the 4 th hour, the
fire was tamed but the aftermath left the building weak. (Ganiron, 2013)12
At present, the structure still stands firm even though the facade of the old GSIS building
shows damage with deterioration and has remained unused for many years now.
The property now is being used as a parking area for the Supreme Court
employees. Manila officials then later proposed the demolition of the old GSIS for the
Hall of Justice but were stopped by Supreme Court as it would completely disregard the
National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009. Aguilar also added that many rumors also
surfaced regarding the buildings use like being the SM Manilas annex building. As it
turns out, it was not the case but a more recent proposition has risen. Its been eyed to be
a shelter for homeless families by the Department of Social Welfare and Development,
making the building still prone to be demolished. At this point, the details are still not

11 Lico, G. (2008). Arkitekturang Filipino: A History of Architecture and Urbanism in the

Philippines. Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press
12 Ganiron, T. U. (2013). Forensic Investigation of Abandoned GSIS Building in Manila.

clear as to whether at least the design of its facade will be retained or will a new building
rise altogether. (Aguilar, 2014) 13
4. Transportation
One great factor for an effective urban plan is effective urban mobility and effective
transport cycle, without congestion. With pedestrian orientation as an on-hand priority, still,
the consideration for mass transport and traffic must be taken into account.
According to N.Alli (May 1994), the high-density land uses that the government
introduce wreak havoc on the existing road systems and what the government does in turn is
to undertake reactive planning by introducing short-term traffic management measures such
as road-widening or the construction of over/underpasses, etc. at the taxpayers expense
without these conglomerates really having to spend for the infrastructure improvements that
they will ultimately benefit from. The collective traffic attracted and generated by their huge
complexes only correspond to demand / competition for the already constricted roadspace
and as such, they should bear the cost of these infrastructure improvements. 14









over/underpasses but also the addition of overhead trains (LRT1/LRT2/MRT) and on-ground
trains (PNR) which takes up roadspace, contrary to their undertaking with road-widening.
Metro Manila, way back 1994, formulated a MMETROPLAN, or the
Metropolitan Manila Transport, Land Use and Development Plan which formulated the
13 Aguilar, K. (2014, November 5). Future Hall Of Justice? The Uncertain Future Of The GSIS. Retrieved
from theurbanroamer:

14 The Social Acceptability of Introducing a Mass Transit System on the Pasig River
study by Armando N. Alli; School of Urban and Regional Planning University of the
Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, May 1994, p.43

proper zoning and land use of infrastructures all around Metro Manila and also formulating
traffic routes and the efficient mobility of mass transport.
The MMETROPLAN identified four major transport problems for the
metropolis and they are: (1) for many, the simple inability to pay the fees for public
transportation services. (2) the chronic shortage of public transport capacity (3) the inefficient
use of existing road space and (4) ineffective management and coordination in both planning
and implementation.15
These are problems that until today, Manila is facing unresolved and worsening. To build
an effective plan and place-making of Manila, these must be recognized and fully considered.

5. The community
Merriam Webster defines a community as an interacting population of various
kinds of individuals in a common location. The main idea of a community is to be
connected to each other in the means of social interaction. The cities today tend to be
lacking of spaces which help the members of the community to interact with each other,
leaving them distant and without a proper sense of a community. There are four elements
of the sense of community according to McMillan and Chavis (1986), membership,
influence, integration and fulfillment of need and shared emotional connection.
(Community: The Blackwell Encyclopedia od Sociology Online, 2016).



community needs the involvement of the citizens, professionals and practitioners in it to

15 The Social Acceptability of Introducing a Mass Transit System on the Pasig River
study by Armando N. Alli; School of Urban and Regional Planning University of the
Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, May 1994, p.44

be able to have a sense of community. Planning a community involves many aspects like
architecture, planning and urban design. Creating a proper environment in which the
community can develop is also a major factor in community planning. One person cant
plan a community alone because it facets many aspects including politics, anthropology
and even politics. (Wates, 2000)17
The present day Manila lacks a sense of community with more focus on building
infrastructures promoting consumerism rather than areas that promote social interactions.
A great example is having more malls than parks in Metro Manila, in which the number
of parks doesnt even come close to the estimated number of 60 malls in the area. The
people have been farther and farther apart with the rapid urbanization that disregards the
need for spaces that promote creating social bonds. The involvement of local people
doesnt seem to be a priority leading to the alienation created by the poor planning of the
community in Manila.
6. Growth and Decline
According to Davis-Asuncion (2003), historical records reveal that Manila has
been known as the center of activities in the Philippines since the pre-Spanish time. It
was even one of the first to establish its position in Southeast Asia during the 17 th century
and was even described as the best situated city in the world and destined to become one
day the center of commerce and trade of the Pacific and Indian oceans by French
navigators and historians. Being a city with substantial population, strategic location and

16 Community: The Blackwell Encyclopedia od Sociology Online. (2016, July 1). Retrieved
from Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology Online:
17 Wates, N. (2000). The Community Planning Handbook. London: Earthscan.

an already established trade, Manila became the ideal place for the permanent colonial
capital of the country. (Zaragosa, 1990) 18
As what Reed (1978) discussed, Manila operated as a city of heterogenic transformation,
where men of different races and cultural traditions mingled to trade and exchange ideas.
The Philippine economy was already remarkable but the unification of the islands led to
further. Manila being the political economic center of the emerging Spanish empire led to
their rise as the foremost European power in the Southeast Asia. Even after the Spanish
Regime, the Philippines economy continued to flourish as the rise of opportunities grew
and it was only after the World War II that the countrys economy began to fluctuate.
After the war, growth was rapid but decelerated over time. (Reed, 1978) 19
Throughout the years, the Philippines had gone from being of the richest countries in
Asia to being one of the poorest. Countless attempts to fix the economy in our country
was taken upon president after president only to be hindered by various problems. Even
though the recent Aquino administration had progress, fiscal limitations remain one of the
economy's biggest vulnerability. At the center of all this is the city of Manila, being the
center for politics, commerce, education and culture has led to witnessing the huge effects
of this.
Growth doesnt always equal to progress and Manila has become the best
example for that. Although with the present growth of its economy, only the wealthy
seem to be reaping its benefits, leaving the people from the middle to lower class in
distraught. Problems such as unemployment, rapid rural-urban migration, traffic
congestion, slums, food security, and deteriorated urban facilities have greatly affected its
economy. Manilas population, according to the 2015 census, is estimated at 1.78 million
18 Old Manila by Ramon Ma. Zaragoza; Oxford University Press, 1990

and at least 40% is below the poverty line. The city has grown rapidly throughout the last
century and has become very densely populated leading to a high need for housing
developments. The rapid urbanization along with the rapid growth of the population
poses a threat to further growth to the economy as Manila is overwhelmed with such
developments. Davis-Asuncions (2003) study states the following about Manilas
Public investments are used in densely populated and highly residential
districts such as Tondo, Sta. Ana, Sampaloc, and San Lazaro area. Areas
with low population and mostly commercial areas such as Binondo,
Ermita and Quiapo receive a small percentage of the funds allocated for
infrastructure improvements. It clearly shows that the City of Manila has
not been biased in allocating public improvements towards areas with high
land values. Often decisions on where to put public investment are often
politically motivated.
Despite the existing problems of Manila, it is still plagued with people corrupt
authorities. By focusing the public improvements on areas with high population, these
corrupt politicians also improve their chances to win in re-election bids. This has led to
the neglect of potential areas for economic growth such as the heritage sites of Manila.
The tourism industry has taken a major fall in Manila despite the fact that it
houses many historical landmarks. Many of these have already been torn down and
replaced with what was deemed more necessary due to the many problems besetting the
city. High-rise apartments and various numbers of places that promote consumerism was
deemed more important than the preservation of our heritage sites despite the existence of
the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

Amidst all these problems that hinder Manilas economic growth, opportunities
still rise for its development. Manila still has the major qualities that led to its previous
wealth in its golden days such as its strategic location, economic vitality and especially
its significance in our countrys cultural heritage. Its just a matter of reactivating and
maximizing the resources we already have to open many windows of opportunities.
7. Laws and Ordinances





Singapore (City/Urban Redevelopment)

Singapore was once a 3rd world Country. In the 60s, Singapore was a

newly established country, separated from Malaysia, which struggles with its
small area in rapid population growth, poor housing, and urban slums, poor
infrastructure and a limited capital. Singapore experienced a rapid economic
growth from 1965 to 1990s up the point that the citizens had a high standard of
living. Singapores Urban Redevelopment Authority came up with a concept plan
that will guide the development of Singapore in the next 40 to 50 years. This
strategic plan also encapsulates the vision of the country.

Figure 2.1 Singapore Circa 1960

Figure 2.2 Gardens by the Bay

Figure 2.3 Marina Bay Sands

The country established a master plan which a detailed and transparent

statutory plan that also shows the permissible land uses for each type of
establishments and its corresponding density. This master plan is being reviewed
every five (5) years to provide accurate information in the subject matter. It also
aims to improve the accessibility of the public to green areas by creating a loop
systemconnecting the green spaces to homes.
The government is responsible to realize the plan intentions and is to meet
the market demand for different establishments such as housing, industrial and
commercial developments. They also established a private-public partnership in
meeting these demands. The development control is responsible for each of these
developments being ensured to be in line with the planning intentions of the
master plan. They follow clear guidelines so that the master plan is being
followed up to the smallest detail.
Singapore is not only planning to solve its old problems, but also to
develop a proper living system within a small area. Due to its small area and
population growth, Singapore provides a variety of housing types to
accommodate the population. 88% of the land use is being created for housing.
They also created and give emphasis on mass transportation and connect them.
In spite of the development of Singapore, they valued their heritage and
history by conserving individual buildings and districts which include little India,

Chinatown, and Kampong Glam. It also helps by being a part of the tourist
attraction in Singapore.


The Contemporary Austin (Adaptive Reuse)

Location: Austin Texas
The Structure was built around built around the 1800s and was home of

several businesses. In the 1920s it was redeveloped into a theater and the later on
transformed into a department store in 1950s. Located in downtown Austin,
Texas, it is now called the Arthouse at Jones Center, and now being expanded and
renovation for a bigger space for a contemporary art space. Rather than returning
it to its original faade, (LTL Architects) modified its faade and turn it into a
modern design, but retaining the elements that are still intact.

Figure 2.4 Arthouse at Jones Center, Austin Texas (LTL Architects)

Figure 2.5 Arthouse at Jones Center, Austin Texas (LTL Architects). Lerner Shops, circa 1950

The building has undergone a lot or renovations for more than a century. It
started as a three-story brick building that was built on the corner of Congress
Avenue and 7th street. The Texas Fine Arts Association was formed here in 1911
that later changed its name to Arthouse at the Jones Center in 2002. It started as a
drug store that later on turned into a theater in 1926, featuring a balcony and a
proscenium stage located at the 700 Congress avenue. Also, in 1956, Lerner
Shops moved in and renovates the building by adding windows, a second floor,
and a new elevation on Congress. Being a theater and a department store before it
was turned into an art space, the existing building combined to two. As a theater it
was focused at the west where the stage is, while the department store is placed on
the east, oriented to the street. It now houses the Arthouse, an art institution.
The Architects conceived the design of these previous features of the
building like the 1920s trusses, concrete frame, ornamental paintings and awning,
storefront, and upper-level display windows taken from the 1950s features. They
modified the neo-classical space by transforming the front column into large

cantilevered aluminum fins. The second floor has become a flexible gallery space
with a moveable wall moved by motorized system.


Aurora Cultural Center (Heritage Conservation + Adaptive Reuse)

Location: 22 Church St, Aurora, Ontario, Canada
Aurora is recognized as a heritage community and won a prestigious

Prince of Wales Prize for preserving its built heritage. Being a heritage town, most
of the old building in the town of Aurora were preserved and reused. One of
which is an old public school commonly known as Church Street School which
was built in 1886 , which now houses the Aurora Cultural Center, a center for the
arts, culture, and heritage.

Figure 2.6 Aurora Cultural Center

Toronto Architect Thomas Kennedy designed the public school in a

Victorian manner, also mimicking the kiosks from the golden temple of Amristar
in India as Indian architecture highly influenced the British Empire when Queen
Victoria became the Empress of India in 1876. Since there was no electricity at
the time that the school was built, the school was built in a way that the windows
were arranged in manner where the light would fall over the left shoulder. Also
the classrooms were arranged to face the central staircase, constructed to have
shorter rises to accommodate the childrens short legs. The school was heated by
a 4-coal-fired furnaces located in the basement hall. Also there were no indoor
plumbing designed. Privies (Outhouses) were located in the north of the
playground, where the old library was erected. It was only in 1905 that they
installed a complete set of lavatories in the basement.

The cultural center is a center for programming and programming

partnerships. It also houses the collection of heritage artifacts of the place. The
exterior of the building was well preserved and the interior was made into a
modern space to house the cultural center. It services Cultural Heritage Programs,
Performing Arts, and Visual Arts. It also houses the Aurora Museum at the second
floor. It allows different artists to exhibit their work, instructional classes,
community events, musical concerts, and especially heritage events; one of which
in the display of artifacts at the Aurora room, and display of cases at reception,
heritage music, arts and crafts.




The Heritage Town of Pila (Heritage Conservation)

The historic town center of Pila in Laguna was officially declared a

National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the

Philippines on the May 17, 2000. The board resolution described Pila as one
of the few existing towns in the country that preserves the Spanish colonial town
planning system for the Indies, where at the center of the town was the plaza
complex with the surrounding church, tribunal, school and large houses. The

area bounded by the board resolution encompasses the town plaza and 36
structures, namely the: Municipal Hall, Pila Church, the Pila Museum and
numerous ancestral houses that surround the area (See Figure 2.7 for a map of
Pila). Not only does Pila have a rich architectural heritage but it also stands as a
living monument for the history and culture of its residents.

Figure 2.7 Map of Pila, Laguna

Some of the proponents that were able to visit this National Historical
Landmark were able to conduct a tour of the town. The town holds many
buildings that have been adaptively-reused. A great example of this is the former
Escuela Pia, formerly a school, but is now currently being used as a museum.
Although change is inevitable, the ancestral houses still remains intact but with
minor modifications. Modern stores, like a 7-eleven convenience store, can now
be found along the main road of the town. The faade of the ancestral houses still

remain intact and the second floors still serve as homes for the locals but the
ground floor of the houses are made into commercial stores (See Figures *insert
#s here* for photos of the ancestral houses). Although only some of the ancestral
houses are adaptively-reused, most of them are still in good condition and are
being preserved by the descendants of the original owners and also by the local
government, which is led by the Pila Historical Society Foundation Inc.

Figure. The blue ancestral house next to the municipal hall which now houses a convenience store
and a computer shop.

Figure. This white ancestral house now houses a 7-eleven store at its ground floor while the 2nd
floor remains a residential space.

Arnaiz (2011) said the following on his blog, I saw an old photo of Pila,
circa 1890s) and the town then looks exactly the same as it is today. It just goes
to show how dedicated and involved the Pileos are when it comes to heritage
conservation. Their attitude towards the preservation of their cultural heritage is
among the most dedicated Ive ever seen, commented Arnaiz. If it werent for
the local community, this town wouldve been robbed of their cultural heritage. 20


Nielson Tower (Adaptive Reuse)

20 Arnaiz, A. (2011, September 20). Pila Laguna, a True Heritage Town. Retrieved from

Location: Ayala Triangle, Makati, Philippines

What started out as the rice fields of the Ayala familys hacienda, now
houses the Nielson Tower, the only remaining pre-war structure in Makatis
business district. It is a two-story concrete structure wittily designed to bear a
resemblance to an airplane from a birds-eye view. According to an article in the
Filipinas Heritage Librarys website, the origin of this building started with the
Nielson groups proposal to the government about building an airport and with
Zobel de Ayala offering a portion of his hacienda for the project. Makati was only
a sparsely populated area and was adjacent to Manila when the airport was
proposed, making it an optimal site for it. It then was inaugurated as the Nielson
Airport on July 1937.

Old photo of the Nielson Tower. (Source:

The Filipinas Heritage Library stresses the following on the importance of

the Nielson Airport: it became the primary gateway between Manila and the
rest of the country and, later, between the Philippines and the world. In addition,
it was also a witness to the devastations of World War II with both American and
Japanese forces fighting to control the facility. It was first occupied by the
Americans as a headquarters for their air force but ended up losing it to the
Japanese during the bombing in December 1941. The Americans eventually
regained control over the airport during the liberation of Manila and the then
damaged airport was quickly rehabilitated with international air services resuming
in 1946. It was only during the year 1948 when it ceased operation as an airport as
it was being relocated elsewhere leaving it in the hands of the Ayala y Compaia.
Only the airports passenger terminal and control tower was preserved, which
later came to be known as the Nielson Tower.
Although the structural layout of the Nielson Tower had remained
unchanged from its days as an airport terminal, it has been serving many purposes
throughout history. The Nielson Tower took on various forms such as:
headquarters of a police detachment, as the base of operations of an Ayala
company, and as a semi-private, first-class club-restaurant.
(Ayala Memory: "Nielson Airport", Filipinas Heritage Library- Ayala
Foundation, 2010) 21

21 Ayala Memory: "Nielson Airport", Filipinas Heritage Library- Ayala Foundation. (2010, April
18). Retrieved from

It was only in the year 1994 when it had a major restoration when Architects
International and Leandro V. Locsin and Partners reworked the heritage structure
into the Filipinas Heritage Library, its most noted function to date because it
received an honorable mention from UNESCO at that time. The UNESCO
citation read: The impressive conversion of one of Asias earliest airports into a
heritage library represents a major achievement in preserving an important era
of Manilas history. Historical events and architecture are exemplified in the
legacy of the structure and in the excellent choice to continue its livelihood as an
educational facility. In a time of rapid urban development and expansion, the
Nielson Tower is an excellent model for others to follow on how to appropriately
re-adapt historic structures in the community. (Villalon, 2013)22

The interiors of the former Control Tower of the old Nielson Airport. (Source:

22 Villalon, A. F. (2013, september 15). In Focus: Getting Our Heritage to Survive the Ages.
Retrieved from

With the Filipinas Heritage Library moving to another location, the Nielson
Tower has now moved on to serve yet another purpose which was housing an
Aviation-themed restaurant named Blackbird. Enriquez (2014) said that Colin
Mackay, the owner of Blackbird, was paying homage to its aviation history as it
was named after the worlds fastest plane used during the Cold War. The Neilson
Tower is one of the best examples for adaptive-reuse that still plays into mind the
actual history of the structure being preserved. (Enriquez, 2014)23

Talisay City Plaza Complex (Heritage Restoration & Redevelopment)

Location: Talisay City, Cebu, Philippines
The project involves three (3) structures for commercial use and tourist
development in the city, namely the Old Public Market, the Manukan building
(public market/slaughterhouse), and the Old City Hall Building (See Figure
*insert # here*). Its the citys first public-private partnership project on heritage
restoration and redevelopment. The project was issued by the City Government of
Talisay and would have the assistance of the Public-Private Partnership Center of
the Philippines (PPP CP).

23 Enriquez, M. C. (2014, July 31). Makatis landmark Nielson TowerRPs first gateway to the
worldnow a haven of world cuisine. Retrieved from

Figure. The picture included in the invitation to qualify & bid for the project by the government of
the City of Talisay.

Figure. Photo of the Old City Hall (Source:

Figure. Photo of the Public Market (Source:

Figure: Location map of the site including the old City Hall, old manukan and the old pubic market (Source:






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