June 20, 2024

PRESERVE GABALDON BUILDING — Brensen Bengwayan of the City Planning, Development, and Sustainability Office explained to Councilor Vladimir Cayabas, chair of the committee on education, Baguio Central School Principal Jackson Caya-os, and PTA President Albert Reyes the violations committed in the ongoing restoration of the city’s oldest school and other heritage guidelines. — Contributed photo

The City Planning, Development,  and Sustainability Office has suspended the restoration works at the Baguio Central School after finding out the project is not supported by a building permit and a conservation plan.

This was revealed during the dialogue on May 24, organized by the Office of Councilor Vladimir Cayabas in response to public outcry when the school’s left wing was demolished.  

BCS is listed as a heritage building in the city’s cultural map and under the law, a government heritage building cannot be demolished.

During the dialogue, school officials presented architectural plans and explained they were instructed by the Department of Education head office to restore BCS as part of the former’s project to preserve “Gabaldon” school buildings in the country and that a budget was already given for the restoration.  The officials stated, among other things, that they were not aware that a conservation plan is required by the city.

They said they have coordinated with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and they yielded to the guideline to restore the BCS to its 1949 state.      

BCSA Parent-Teacher Association secretary James Andrada expressed dismay and disappointment with the BCS, the city government, the DepEd, and the national government for allowing the demolition of the school’s west wing, lamenting such was needless. He also said an expert is needed to oversee the building’s restoration, given the historicity of the school and its significance as a heritage building, site, and institution.  

Other attendees noted the absence of coordination between government offices and agencies, and that national agencies seem to ignore local government jurisdictions, like over Baguio, for instance.   

In a letter dated March 26, Cayabas informed Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte about the community’s concern. His letter underscored compliance with the Gabaldon School Buildings Conservation Act, that more classrooms are needed, that BCS is historically significant, and that Cordillera culture should be respected in the restoration. – Linda Grace Cariño