Together We Can
Architect Melva Rodriguez-Java, FUAP
Why has there been such an outcry against the proposed flyovers on Gorordo Avenue?
The banner headline of Cebu Daily News last October 3 was arresting: “DROP FLYOVERS FOR THE NUNS?” Who are these nuns and what are they into?
Curious because of the controversy, I dropped by the Asilo de la Milagrosa compound
last Monday to learn more about them. In June, 1934, a group of alumnae from the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion (CIC) founded the Asilo de la Milagrosa, to cater to the needs of orphans and abandoned babies. War destroyed their first home on San Jose de la Montaña Street, but in the late 1940s, with the help of Cebuanos, the Daughters of Charity were able to construct a building to house their beneficiaries on Gorordo Avenue. Through more than 7 decades, the Asilo has remained steadfast in its commitment to serve abandoned, surrendered, and neglected children, and persons in crisis through sustainable programs. I was struck by the quiet manner in which the nuns and staff went about their daily chores unmindful of the uproar going on over the proposed flyover that would rise right in front of their church, eating up parts
of the church plaza..
Next I visited their church, the Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, built in
1954 as an integral component of the complex. Inside the church, shafts of light filtered in from colored glass panes and fell on the gilded altarpiece, bringing it to shimmer in the luminous interior. Unlike the free-standing altar pieces in other churches in Cebu, this one was hung on the wall. In the silence I understood why this House of Worship, this Sacred Temple of God deserved the highest reverence and protection from any physical and visual intrusion.
The Asilo de la Milagrosa and the Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal are just
two of several heritage places that will be adversely affected by the proposed flyovers. Also within walking distance are the Spanish Period Catholic Cemetery located in historic Carreta and the CIC campus built in 1945 just a few meters up Gorordo Avenue. Within less than a kilometer’s stretch are Camp Sotero Cabahg founded in the 1960s, the American Period U.P. Campus, and a number of ancestral houses including the Battig Piano School in the old family residence of internationally-recognized pianist Ingrid Sala Santa Maria.
Sec. 32 of R.A. 10096 or the Heritage Law of 2009 mandates National Agencies,
including the DPWH, to consult and coordinate closely with the National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in the implementation of their programs as they impact on heritage structures. Has the DPWH done this yet?
Cheaper and more effective alternatives
Here I would like to quote a portion of what the brilliant Engineer Fortunato Sanchez
wrote In the Sept. 2, 2011 issue of CDN: “Rep. Cutie del Mar said that P150 million has been allocated for road widening from Mahiga Bridge to Quezon Avenue, broken down into P100 million allocated to right-of-way with the balance of P50 million for other structures.
“This 2.5-km widening translates to a cost of P60 million per kilometer. If the 600
million flyover can be converted, it can cover 10 kilometers. This can widen the 4-km H. Abellana Street along Ateneo de Cebu and the parallel 2.5-km H. Cortes Street that could suck 30 percent of the traffic along the Banilad-Talamban, corridor benefitting a huge area. A flyover cannot suck traffic out since the vehicles stay on the same road. There would still be enough money left to make a transportation master plan and to partly solve the pestering drainage problem of Metro Cebu.”
In Loboc, Bohol, the people stopped the construction of the DPWH bridge that was
headed towards their precious old church. In Beijing, the new Chinese National Theatre had to be dug into the ground because the Chinese people did not allow it to rise higher than their cherished People’s Hall. In Boston, a new skyscraper across the park was clad with huge mirrors to reflect the small heritage chapel across and in deference to it.
Cebuanos must take a stand to protect our historic urban core and to decide on a more
informed choice of solutions to our traffic woes. With public officials and civil society working together, and with the strong support from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, The National Museum of the Philippines and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, we surely can!