It was an emotional day when a fire ravaged the historic Manila Central Post Office on May 20. The building was first constructed in 1926 and has since served as an important cultural property in the country.
Days after the massive fire, which took more than 30 hours to put out and caused an estimated P300 million in damages, calls to rebuild the historical landmark have started.
The 97-year-old building, located at Liwasang Bonifacio, was designed by architects Juan M. Arellano, Tomás Mapúa, and Ralph Doane to serve as the country’s center for postal services. It was Arellano’s neoclassical magnum opus.
The old post office was “totally damaged,” according to the Bureau of Fire Protection, but since the fire, lawmakers and Filipino citizens alike have been calling to have it rebuilt.
In the Congress and Senate, House Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto and Senate President Loren Legarda expressed their support to rebuild the historical structure. Recto even proposed to use the P13 billion calamity fund under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council for the project. Here are some reasons why this historical site should be brought back to its former glory.
It’s Juan Arellano’s magnum opus
Juan Arellano is a well-known architect who has created some of the most recognizable buildings in Manila. He designed the Metropolitan Theater, the Legislative Building which is now the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, and the Jones Bridge. His magnum opus, however, is considered the Manila Central Post Office which featured 16 Ionic pillars and was worth P1 million to construct.
It’s a site of historical significance
ICYDK, the Manila Central Post Office was an important landmark for anti-Marcos protests during martial law, according to academic organization Project Gunita. For the 11th anniversary of the military rule in 1983, those opposing the dictatorship gathered in Liwasang Bonifacio for a National Day of Sorrow protest.
500,000 Filipinos gathered at the Post Office which was bannered with streamers. Its steps were turned into a makeshift stage for leaders to call for an end to the Marcos dictatorship.
The Manila Central Post Office, which is now up in flames, is not merely a relic of neoclassical architecture. It has been always also the site, along with Liwasang Bonifacio, of huge anti-Marcos protests in the 1980s — like this photo from Sept. 21, 1983.#DefendHistoricalTruth pic.twitter.com/oZiWfupez4
— karl #MarcosMamamatayTao (@eicvsfascism) May 22, 2023
The Manila landscape needs this iconic structure
As netizens began talking about the Central Post Office’s demise, concerns about what would happen to the destroyed building surfaced. Some Filipino users were worried that this historical structure will be turned into a commercial building instead of restored.
The fire started at around midnight. Accessible naman ang Manila Central Post Office. Bakit inabot ng umaga bago naapula ang apoy? Kapag hindi na-restore nang maayos ang MCPO building, kapag ibinenta at naging hotel, iisipin ng mga tao na hindi ito nasunog kundi ipinasunog.
— Jerry B. Grácio (@JerryGracio) May 22, 2023
manila post office na nakaligtas sa WW2 mababalitaan mo na lang nasusunog ngayong umaga 🙁 the only historical structure na hindi nasira noong gera sa sunog pala masisira 🙁 sana walang gawin na kahit anong commercial structure dito
— ቲቢ (@yotbchill) May 22, 2023
I do wish that the Manila Central Post Office does not succumb to modern politics. Baka mamaya tuluyan na iyan ipagiba at gawing mall. Huwag naman sana.
— 🐼🌸 (@vuh_LAHS_kehs) May 22, 2023
The Manila Central Post Office in Lawton is a beautiful, classic and iconic structure. I wish they won't replace it with one of those ugly modern buildings. Mga GAHAMAN na developers and corrupt politicians… BACK OFF!! Let patriotic architects, builders and patrons rebuild it! https://t.co/OkRlggzwoj
— ARA.Sia (@ARAsia1010) May 22, 2023
However, Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna assured that no commercial space will be built on the site.
“Kapag ganito po, hindi na pwedeng patayuan ng kahit ano pa mang gusali, maliban sa naturing na post office soon sa lugar na yun,” she said. “Ibig sabihin po, napro-proteksyunan ng ating zoning ordinance na kahit po ang pamahalaang lungsod ng Maynila, kahit ang national government ay hindi pwedeng magpatayo ng kahit ano pa mang imprastraktura sa lugar na yun maliban doon sa tinatawag nating Manila Central Post Office.”
Preserving this historical site also means there’s a priority to preserve other historical sites. These landmarks are rich in culture and history that Filipinos young and old should learn about.
banner photo from: Manila Public Information Office/Facebook