Strong protest prompts officials to stop ‘paletada’ work at F. Pilar PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 11:46

The loud and angry protest from Zamboangueños that started on Facebook and erupted on mainstream media has prompted the National Museum to temporarily stop the “paleatada” work on the remaining brick walls inside Fort Pilar.

Councilor Vincent Paul “VP” Elago, chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Tourism, said yesterday  he has received a message from Ivan. Henares, president of the Heritage Conservation Society of the Philippines and acting as mediator, said that Jeremy Barns, executive director of the National Museum, has ordered the temporary suspension of work on the brick walls.

It was learned that Barns is coming to Zamboanga City for a dialogue with city officials as well as with people at the forefront of the protest over what was described as “crime against cultural heritage” of Zamboanga the so-called “improvement” project at the Fort Pilar.

A planned protest action and lighting of candles at the gate of Fort Pilar set yesterday was temporarily postponed.

Zamboangueños were angry after seeing pictures on Facebook showing the interior walls of Fort Pilar were painted white.

“They made it (Fort) looks like a mental institution,” commended many Facebookers.

According to one Zamboangueño, instead of preserving the old and original state of Fort Pilar, people from Manila involved in the “improvement” project have destroyed the fort ruins.

“It is only recently that we realized the kind of ‘improvement’ the National Museum has been doing inside our Fort Pilar which is recognized as the oldest landmark of Zamboanga City. Fort Pilar was constructed in 1635 by the Jesuits. It is the most historically significant structure that we Zamboanguenos are very proud of,” Elago had earlier posted his Facebook account.

The councilor’s post elicited angry reactions from many Zamboangueños from here and abroad.

The controversial topic spread to several other groups in Facebook and became the hot topic of discussions on local radio and television news programs.

“They have destroyed the ruins in their goal of “improving”. The south and east bricked-walls have been plastered with cement to make the surface smooth just like any new building today. Gone are the Spanish-looking walls’ that made the inner fort look as authentic as it looks outside. On the same walls, they constructed something that does not look old but an ugly edifice that looks new. I had goosebumps just seeing it!,” Elago lambasted.

“They never consulted us about their project. They were on and vandalized our significant past. We must not waste time! We should act now against this crime against the heritage of Zamboanga!” he said.

“Councilor Elago, you must do something about it if even if you will earn the ire of anybody up there.....you are duty-bound to save that fort because we from ZDA (Zamboanga del Antes) didn’t waste our time wanting to preserve not only the dialect/language in Zamboanga,” commented Alfred Wong.on Elago’s post.

“VP ese plaster ase taplak na di ila maga cara!! said Elvira Stokes from abroad.

Said Roland Ramos,” Barricade it... and send out of the city all the workers working inside the fort. call persona non-grata de curator for unable to update and brief the local officials. they should be sensitive enough with cultures. Zamboanga wake up... look what the national government is doing to us. insensible! irresponsible!”