THE OLD Jaro Municipal Hall in Iloilo City is now an important cultural property of the Republic of the Philippines.
Jeremy Barns, National Museum director, formally announced the Museum Declaration No. 21-2016 during the blessing of Old Jaro Municipal Hall Feb. 17, 2017 in Jaro, Iloilo City.
Museum Declaration No. 21-2016, which declares the Old Jaro Municipal Hall as an important cultural property, was based on the deliberation of National Museum panel of experts – Architect Manuel Duche, Architect Augusto Villalon, Fr. Rene Javellana, Prof. Regalado Toto Jose, and Fr, Milan Ted Torralba.
Based on the declaration, the Old Jaro Municipal Hall is considered “an exceptional example of the Art Deco style in the entire Philippines, emblematic of the best of public architecture of its period.”
The government building was built in 1934 by imminent Filipino architect, Juan Arellano and the Bureau of Public Works. It is near Jaro Plaza, Jaro Belfry and Jaro Cathedral, which are all important landmarks in the city.
The declaration said the edifice “merits official recognition as an intrinsic part of the heritage and patrimony of the Filipino people, and consequently the assurance of commitment of its protection by the national government thru National Museum and other mandated concerned agencies.”
Barns said that this is the first time they declared a government building of the 20th century an important cultural property in Iloilo. Other national cultural treasures in Iloilo include Sta Barbara Church, Miagao Church, among others.
According to Republic Act No. 10066 (National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009), a cultural property 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.”
Barns said these have exceptional, cultural, artistic and historical significance to the Philippines, which include architectural and engineering structures such as but not limited to bridges, government buildings, ancestral houses, traditional dwellings, cuartelles, train stations, lighthouses, ports, and all kinds of structures including their settings landscapes of notable historical significance.
Also citing RA No. 10066, Barns said buildings declared as national cultural treasures or important cultural property get priority attention from the national government to protect and preserve them from natural disasters or damage.
“They are entitled to government funds to preserve them for future generation,” Barns said.
The Old Jaro Municipal Hall was donated to the National Museum by the Iloilo City Government in 2014. It used to be the Jaro police station.
With a budget of P20 million under the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the municipal hall underwent restoration as mandated by Republic Act 10555.
RA 10555, authored by Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Trenas, declared the following areas in the city as as Cultural Heritage Tourism Zones – Jaro Cathedral, Molo Church, Iloilo City Central Business District, Fort San Pedro, Jaro Plaza Complex, Molo Plaza Complex, and Plaza Libertad Complex.
The Old Jaro Municipal Hall is part of the Jaro Plaza Complex.
The Old Jaro Municipal Hall will be utilized as National Museum’s satellite office in Western Visayas. It will also be used as training center, conference facility, resource center, and all frontline services of National Museum.
The National Museum has 16 plantilla positions for its WV satellite office, which will oversee the National Museum operations in Region 6.
These activities include monitoring of restoration activities, archaeological and zoological expeditions, among others.
‘REMEMBER OUR PAST’
In his message, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. welcomed the completion of the restoration project, stressing that Old Jaro Municipal Hall and other old houses and churches symbolize Iloilo’s glorious past.
He called on Ilonggos to remember its history: “A country or people will not move forward and progress if it fails to remember and glorify the past.”
“The pride and successes of the past are the challenges for the future. It gives us strength and inspiration if we know how to recall and celebrate the glory of the past,” the governor said.
Defensor cited how other countries place importance to their past by glorifying the past thru preservation of old structures, which eventually became popular tourism attractions.
He likened the efforts of Trenas to legislation and the backing of Iloilo City Government through Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and the Sangguniang Panlungsod to it.
“But this would not be possible without the help of the National Museum, led by Director Barns,” he stressed.
Mabilog welcomed the restoration initiatives, which he called an “extraordinary gift to Ilonggos.”
Mabilog urged private support to be able to maintain and operate not only the Old Jaro Municipal Hall, but also other structures in the city that are up for restoration.