Celso vows commitment to heritage preservation PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 21 September 2012 14:32

Mayor Celso Lobregat yesterday reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the protection and promotion of history and heritage as he rolled out the city’s unceasing efforts to promote and develop the rich culture and history of Zamboanga.

Speaking before participants to the two-day LGU Training on History and Heritage  organized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines yesterday, Lobregat said efforts on heritage preservation and conservation are inscribed in the city’s social contract with the people and form part of the City Development Strategy as emphasized in the   city’s vision.

“Zamboanga is now bearing the fruits of that vision and because of improved financial condition of the city, we have invested and continue to invest in the restoration/protection of our historical and heritage sites and in the construction of other structures and facilities that serve as city’s attractions,” the mayor pointed out.

Testimony to the city’s heritage restoration efforts are the renovation of the Gabaldon Building, formerly the Burleigh School, in 2008 at a cost of P7.9 million; the Plaza Pershing which was reopened to the public last November 27 and other historical sites that include the Fort Pilar Shrine, Pasonanca Park, Taluksangay mosque, Metropolitan Cathedral, Paseo del Mar, Plaza del Pilar and the newly-refurbished R.T. Lim Boulevard.

The City Government also undertook the renovation of the Zamboanga City Central Police Office, the City Fire Station and the Sta. Maria health center—all considered heritage sites and demonstrate the city’s full commitment to preserving and safeguarding heritage sites and traditions, he said.

And most of the city’s infrastructure projects are built with architectural designs that are reflective of Zamboanga’s rich and colorful history, according to the mayor.

Zamboanga is also home to oldest institutions which are effectively preserved and maintained. Among these are the Western Mindanao State University, the Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College, Ateneo de Zamboanga, the Bank of the Philippine Islands-Zamboanga main branch and the City Hall as well as the Golf Course and Country club in Calarian.

On the other hand, chabacano, a Spanish derivative language that is uniquely Zamboanga is continuously being preserved, promoted and propagated, he said. The latest effort was the production of the book “El Primer Alfabeto Chabacano” which is now being used in day care centers and pre-schools.

The yearly conduct of the Chabacano songfest during the Fiesta Hermosa festival is s another initiative to propagate the language. Originally started by the late Mayor Maria Clara Lobregat in 1984, the contest is being pursued with more vigor by the present administration.

Likewise, he said, the city government has enacted various ordinances illustrating commitment to history and heritage promotion and preservation. These include the tourism code, the law creating the Zamboanga Council on Culture, History and Arts and the law preserving, restoring and promoting the chabacano dialect.

The city has also enacted an ordinance focusing on natural heritage and effectively declared trees more than 100 years old as “Century Trees” and those that are “considered ecologically, historically or culturally valuable or belonging to a rare specie as “Heritage Trees”. 

“And highlighting our thrust to preserve the culture and historical reputation of the city and in line with the CDS agenda for advancement, we have unveiled last April 26, the city’s museum or    “El Museo de Zamboanga” at the Jardin Maria Clara in Pasonanca”, Lobregat added.

NHCP officials led by Executive Director Ludovico Badoy are in the city to conduct the training for provincial, city and municipal administrators; tourism and cultural officers/workers, planners, engineers and other stakeholders from Region 9 and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The activity which culminates today, is the fourth of a series all over the country and is a 3-pronged approach—increase appreciation of history and cultural heritage, raise consciousness about the importance of historic/heritage conservation and encouraging LGUs to identify historical and cultural sites and structures in their respective localities. —Sheila Covarrubias