|The Supreme Court lifted the TRO on the construction of Torre de Manila, which mars the background of the Rizal Monument|
The most recent cultural issue—that of the Torre de Manila controversy—is an ironic development as the Philippines celebrates National Heritage Month this May.
During its en banc session on April 25, the Supreme Court lifted the temporary restraining order (TRO), which it issued on June 16, 2015, to stop construction of the 49-story residential project Torre de Manila in Ermita, Manila.
DMCI Homes’ Torre de Manila caught the attention of heritage advocates and cultural agencies including the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the government overall cultural agency, in 2012 when the project had been built high enough to figure prominently in the background of the historical Rizal Monument. Because of this visual intrusion, the condominium was dubbed a “photobomber.”
The Knights of Rizal filed a petition with the Supreme Court in September 2014, while the NCCA, relying on the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, issued a cease-and-desist order against the project in January 2015 because it destroys the monument’s view. On the other hand, DMCI argued that the P3.6-billion Torre de Manila “does not stand on a national heritage site” and that the National Building Code “does not prescribe height limits for buildings.”
“The court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter; the petitioners have no standing to sue; and they (petitioners) stand to suffer no injury. Furthermore, the court also found that there is no law that prohibits the construction of the challenged Torre de Manila,” the Supreme Court said in its latest decision.
The NCCA’s Subcommission on Cultural Heritage (SCH) expressed dismay on the lifting of the TRO, but tried to see a positive side.
“The case has shown us that there is wellspring of support for the protection of our cultural heritage. The public is aware of the need to protect heritage and the public outcry over the decision shows this,” said SCH head Fr. Harold Ll. Rentoria, OSA. “This is also a good time to review our laws that protect heritage and see how they could be strengthened in order for the NCCA and other government agencies to fulfill the state obligation to protect, preserve and promote culture. No less than the Philippine constitution requires that heritage should be preserved.”
Moreover, the NCCA continues the celebrate National Heritage Month this May with the Filipino Heritage Festival, co-organized with Filipino Heritage Foundation, Inc. headed by its president Armita B. Rufino and finance officer Araceli R. Salas.
National Heritage Month came about with the signing of Proclamation No. 439 on August 11, 2003, declaring the month of May as National Heritage Month “in recognition of the need to create among the people a consciousness, respect, and pride for the legacies of Filipino cultural history, and love of country.”
The Filipino Heritage Festival was started in 2003 to celebrate National Heritage Month with an array of events “to bring the Filipino people to a new awareness of age-old traditions, cultural practices, song, dance and centuries-old architectural wonders.”
“The past years have been a significant upswing of heritage awareness in our nation. The persistent initiatives of cultural agencies, non-governmental organizations, and individual cultural advocates and workers are bearing fruits. Among the most heartening headways are the increasing number of young cultural advocates and the consistent initiatives of local government units to integrate the protection and proper use of cultural heritage in their development plans,” said Fr. Rentoria. “Awareness is but a step to a higher goal, which is to cultivate in very Filipino the genuine care for our heritage. Thus, the theme of the 2017 National Heritage Month this May is ‘Malasakit para sa Pamana’ (care for heritage).”
The 2017 celebration kicks off in Ormoc City, Leyte, on May 3, with an opening ceremony. After that, there are numerous events lined up, spilling into June.
There will be several performances. Significant ones include Don Bosco TVET Center Tondo’s musical play Sanctissima, about the stories of three miraculous Virgin Mary images and true miracle stories from Tondo, Manila. Also in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima, Sanctissima shows on May 2 and 3 at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
Another major production is Philippine Ballet Theatre’s Pilipino Komiks, based on the popular comic strips of Mars Ravelo, on May 14 (2 P.M. and 8 P.M. at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo). It is choreographed by Gener Caringal, with music by Chino Toledo and costumes by Arturo Cruz. It will brought to the cities of Sagay and Victorias in Negros Occidental on May 25 and 26.
The “Pamana ng Filipino” concert will feature the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and concert pianist Dr. Raul Sunico at the Rizal Park Open Air Auditorium on May 28.
Alun Alun Dance Circle will stage “Pangalay ng Bayan: Celebrating Women through Dance” (May 9 at Robinsons Place Manila, 5 P.M.), featuring the choreography of Ligaya Fernando Amilbangsa.
“Parian sa Binondo” is on May 20 at the Lucky Chinatown Mall’s ground floor Atrium (4 P.M.).
There will also be different exhibits such as “Abot-Tanaw: Tracing Local Horizons,” a photo exhibit of Philippine sunsets with launch of commemorative stamps at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, opening on May 8 and running until June 23; “Arte Filipino: Art Installations by Rachy Cuna” at S Maison Atrium, Conrad Hotel, from May 15 to 31; “Philippine Traditional Musical Instruments Collections of National Artists for Music Lucrecia R. Kasilag and Ramon P. Santos” (May 8 to 10 at Glorietta Activity Center; and June 5 to 16 at SM City Marilao, Bulacan); “Habi: A Journey through Philippine Handwoven Textiles” (May 11 to 19, SM Seaside City in Cebu; June 16 to 30, SM City Pampanga; and July 1 to 6, SM North Edsa, Quezon City); “Philippine Waterfalls” in different malls; and “Gusali: Evolution of Philippine Architecture” (May 22 to 26, at the SM City Bacolod, Negros Occidental).
There will also be educational events. The Youth Forum on Heritage is scheduled in five areas—Ormoc City, Leyte (May 4 to 5); Ilagan City, Isabela (May 24 to 25); Virac, Catanduanes (July 6 to 7); Cagayan de Oro (June 13 to 14); and Tayabas, Quezon (July). The Angat Kabataan Camp 2017 will be held in Magalang, Pampanga, from May 31 to June 4.
Other events include a traditional Biblical Santa Cruz de Mayo processions in Intramuros, Manila, on May 21, and at the SM Mall of Asia grounds on May 12; Pahampang Pinoy: Traditional Filipino Games on May 26 in Victorias City, Negros Occidental; and a heritage pilgrimage in Negros Occidental from May 25 to 27.
“Everyone is encouraged to actively participate in this celebration. Any gesture of care to the Filipino heritage, no matter how simple it is, can contribute in achieving the collective purpose of having all people appreciate, protect and cherish our cultural identity and treasures. A simple gesture, which can educate our youth of the importance of our heritage, can be a catalyst in the efforts of nation building and developing our pride of place,” said Fr. Rentoria. “It is hoped that this year’s celebration of the National Heritage Month will help each of us realize the significance of our heritage to the present and future generations of Filipinos.”
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|St. Joseph the Worker Church in Victorias City is one of the stop during a pilgrimage tour|
|A traditional Biblical Santa Cruz de Mayo procession will be held in Intramuros, Manila|
|A pangalay dance peformance with Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa|
|"Parian sa Binondo" will be held at the Lucky Chinatown Mall|