September 24, 2023 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — Residents of Sta. Ana, Manila are appealing to national government agencies and the city government to protect the area’s “heritage zone.”
Residents gathered at the grounds of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Abandoned, the 303-year-old parish church of Sta. Ana, yesterday morning.
They then staged a rally in front of a house less than 300 meters away from the site where three high-rise buildings would reportedly be constructed despite the area having been declared part of Sta. Ana’s “heritage zone.”
One of the protesters, a 70-year-old female resident of Lamayan street, asked city officials, particularly those from District 6, to see the problem for themselves.
Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. and Councilors Caloy Castañeda, Joey Uy, Salvador Philip Lacuna, Lou Veloso, Benny Fog Abante III and Elmer Par represent District 6 in the House of Representatives and the city council.
Residents alleged that construction activities damaged the frescoes adorning the ceiling of the “camarin” or the dressing room of Sta. Ana’s patron, the Our Lady of the Abandoned.
The paintings are believed to be as old as the 303-year-old church, which was built between 1720 and 1725. They have been restored twice.
The “camarin” was recognized as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum in 2008, while the church was declared a Historic Building by the Historical Research and Markers Committee, currently the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), in 1936.
In 2011, the city council declared portions of Sta. Ana near the centuries-old church as a “histo-cultural heritage/overlay zone” through Ordinance No. 8244, which primarily aims to preserve structures deemed of historic significance.
In 2014, the NHCP proclaimed the same portion of Sta. Ana a Heritage Zone, wherein buildings to be erected inside the 200-meter radius “shall conform to the prescribed building character, height and seatback with reference to Sta. Ana Church.”
According to residents, a team from the NHCP headed by its chairman Emmanuel Calairo inspected the church and the construction area last week.