Baclayon, Wednesday, 16 February 2005 18:56:09
January 27, 2005
HER EXCELLENCY GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO
Republic of the Philippines
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.
WE APPEAL TO YOU MADAM PRESIDENT:
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!
FAMILIES OWNING/MANAGING BACLAYON ANCESTRAL HOMES