May 25, 2024

Sustainable heritage tourism will be the focus of the conservation and development plan for the city government-owned Dominican Hill Heritage Site in Barangay Dominican-Mirador, Baguio City.

This was based on the output of the first stakeholders’ visioning meeting and workshop held April 11 for the preparation of the detailed engineering study and conservation management plan for the Dominican Hill Heritage Site.

Palafox Associates was awarded the project contract on Jan. 31 worth P13,900,880.

The National Commission on Culture and the Arts in 2022 forged an agreement for the national government to grant a P15 million budget for the Dominican Hill Heritage Site redevelopment plan.

Heritage Conservation Specialist Architect Joel V. Rico, NCCA executive member on Monuments and Sites, said the Dominican Hill project means a lot for the commission in its mission to restore heritage properties in the country through adaptive reuse system.

“The challenge later on will be on funding, which may entail billions of pesos, but our president is supportive of this project, he just wanted to see first the final conservation plan output from the Palafox team,” Rico said.

As the winning bidder, Palafox Associates is expected to finish the plan within six months from receipt of the notice to proceed. 

Expected accomplishments include detailed cultural map; detailed building and landscape assessment; detailed architectural and landscape conservation plan, structural retrofitting design; mechanical, sanitary, electrical and communications plan; project management plan; a 3D scale model; site and building carrying capacity and view protection study; willingness to pay and business model development; incorporation to comprehensive land use plan and creative circuit plan; and policy recommendations.

The city government worked closely with the NCCA in the plan to conserve the century-old retreat center and transform it into a creative hub for the city’s art assets that will foster Baguio as a creative city befitting to its UN-vested status as member of the global creative cities network.

The former Dominican Retreat Center, which was originally built by the Dominicans to serve as a school in 1915, turned into a hotel in the 1980’s, and acquired by the city in 2004 and has been identified as among the priority investment areas since then. – Jessa Mardy Samidan