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Letter to President Arroyo regarding the Demolition of Homes in Baclayon

Baclayon, Sunday, 6 February 2005 (updated: Wednesday, 16 February 2005)

January 27, 2005



Republic of the Philippines


  • MADAM Cecile Guidote Alvarez
    Executive Director NCCA/PA for Culture
  • MADAM Evelyn Pantig
    Chairperson NCCA
  • MADAM Emelita Almusara
    Executive Director National Historical Institute
  • MADAM Corazon Alvina
    Director National Museum

Your Excellency Madam President Arroyo:

The undersigned is a group of 10 families each owning and/or managing an ancestral home in Baclayon, Bohol. As you may well know, Baclayon is the oldest cabisera in the heritage province of Bohol. As part of the development plan of the province, the coastal highway of Baclayon is subject of the widening project of the Provincial Government of Bohol with the Department of Public Highways. In several dialogues with Governor Erico Aumentado and after lodging with the authorities several letters of protest from us, we have been assured by the Governor that a 2-kilometer stretch east and west of the beautiful and historical Church complex of Baclayon will be spared from the widening, i.e. any repairs or improvements will be done AS BUILT.

However, despite these assurances, the DPWH in Bohol is continuing its plan of widening beyond what has been agreed with the Governor. Yesterday, the DPWH called for a meeting with the local residents and illustrated the plan on the 2-kilometer stretch. If implemented, most of the houses of the undersigned will suffer partial or full demolition. Also part of the belfry of the Church complex will be affected! We expressed our appeal to redesign the widening project to spare our homes, but due to the loud clamor for “progress” by our other co-Baclayanons, we who own these heritage structures feel isolated and misunderstood as against development.

We are not against development or modernization per se. But if this means destroying a major part of the tangible heritage that make up the cultural identity of our community and town, we will pursue our appeal.

Madam President, most, if not all of our homes, were constructed at the turn of the century and display humble characteristics of unique Boholano vernacular architecture. We have been planning already as a group to maximize the historicity of our sites by developing heritage inns or stops which visitors can appreciate. Destroying part or all of any of our homes decreases the visual image of our cultural legacy, its soul, its spirit.

We are all for the safety of our children. But we cannot believe that by expanding the width of our streets we will be provided more safety and security. On the other hand, if we keep construction AS BUILT, with a more protected poblacion, with regulated traffic and speed, with repaired roads, with the conduct of norms respecting the historicity of our town, greater safety can be achieved.

By destroying our homes, we feel part of our being Filipino is destroyed forever.


  • To issue a restraining order to the DPWH and the Hanjin Construction firm to stop the widening process within the two kilometer stretch
  • To organize for us a venue for a re-design negotiation which will harmonize both the exigencies of development and respect for heritage
  • To mobilize the appropriate government national agencies to assist us in this lonely crusade for heritage and culture

This is not impossible to achieve. The glowing examples of Silay and Carcar cities hold a beacon of inspiration to all of us. Bohol’s claim to be one of our country’s most exemplary provinces for Eco-Cultural will surely be diminished if part of its enviable legacy of ancestral homes will vanish into thin air.

WE TURN TO YOU AS OUR LAST HOPE TO STEM THIS TIDE OF APATHY AND MISUNDERSTANDING. We know deep in your heart that you too have a sensitivity for our cherished past, both the intangible and tangible treasures of our race. We may sound like a strident voice in the wilderness. But we know we are fighting for something right. We are not losing hope. Please extend to us the chance of leaving to future Boholanos and Filipinos something we all can be truly proud of: The soul of our forefathers as crystallized in our domiciles. We promise and pledge that if our crusade is won with your most gracious assistance, we will not spare any chance of revitalizing our homes with a greater sense of dignity and honor.

Maraming salamat po. At Mabuhay po kayo at ang Bansang Pilipinas!

Respectfully yours,


  • ROMANA CABALLO HOUSE c/o Lira Lomboy
  • RESTITUTA OPPUS HOUSE c/o Siony Baquial
  • MALON HOUSE c/o Frennie
  • GINETE HOUSE c/o Hilay and Pestelos families
  • LUZA HOUSE c/o Labad, Cutab and Caballo families
  • FELY OPPUS HOUSE c/o Chona Oppus
  • LERIAS HOUSE c/o Baby Lerias
  • CABALLO HOUSE c/o Beth Caballo


What readers think...

Bobbie Cornillez wrote:
Saturday, 11 March 2006 01:58:35 PHT
It could have been better if you had attached pictures of these ancestral homes not only for the President but for all of us to see. I'm truly glad that there are Filipinos like you who appreciate, treasure, and defend our heritage and culture. Bobbie Palmdale,CA.,USA
Lukarette wrote:
Saturday, 6 August 2005 00:49:52 PHT
Yes, i'm one with you...NO to DESECRATION of BOHOL's CULTURAL HERITAGE!!! Sa mga nag-iisip galawin ang Baclayon Church at kalapit na mga bahay-bahay...sana mag-isip-isip naman kayo. Kakaunti na nga ang maganda sa Pilipinas, heto at magbabawas na naman kayo? Sana for a change makaisip naman kayo ng mas maganda, mas relevant na konsepto. Progress doesn't mean destruction!
Robby Dela Vega wrote:
Wednesday, 13 July 2005 06:58:23 PHT
Ang pagwasak sa mga ancestral homes sa Baclayon ay nangangahulugan ng pagwasak sa ating kultura at pagwawalang pansin at pagpapahalaga sa ating kultura at kasaysayan. Ang mga ancestral houses sa Baclayon ay yaman at kultura di lamang ng mga taga-Bohol kundi ito ay yaman ng lahing kayumanggi. Sama-sama po nating ipanalangin na huwag mawasak ang ating kultura at sariling pagkakakilanlan.
AJ Mallari wrote:
Monday, 4 July 2005 21:51:29 PHT
Mabuhay po tayong lahat. Kapanalig po ako ng ating mga kababayan sa Baclayon sa pagsalba sa mga bahay na sumasalamin sa ating mayamang kultura. Ako po ay isang estudyante ng pagdidisenyo at naituro po sa amin ng aming mga propesor ang kahalagahan ng mga istrukturang ito, lalong lalo na po ang mga simbahan. Kaya't kasama po ninyo kaming mga estudyante sa pagdudulog ng hinaing na ito. Ang pagprotekta sa ating kasaysayan at kultura ay hindi nangangahulugan ng di pag sang ayon o pagtatalikod sa kaunlaran bagkus, ito'y nagpapakita ng pagrespeto sa nakaraan para sa isang progresibong bukas. Nawa'y maliwanagan ang mga taong nasa posisyong pigilan ang naka-ambang paninira.
Rosalyn wrote:
Thursday, 31 March 2005 23:30:37 PHT
I am one with those who say NO to destroying these ancestral houses.

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