BAYAMBANG CENTRAL SCHOOL: Historical commission saves Gabaldon
BAYAMBANG – Efforts to save the only remaining Gabaldon Building at the abandoned Bayambang Central School paid off after the National Historical Commission of the Philippines stopped the local government from demolishing or altering the building.
There were three Gabaldon buildings at the BCS but only the Home Economics building, built in 1992, is left.
The one built in 1912 was demolished reportedly on advise of a former NHCP official from Bayambang.
Another, built in 1924, was burned down under “suspicious circumstances” in June 2010 before the opening of classes.
In a letter to Mayor Ricardo Camacho dated January 6, NHCP chair Maria Serena Diokno said the American period Gabaldon Building falls within the purview of the heritage law which provides that structures 50 years and older are presumed to be important cultural property.
“Since the NHCP collaborates with the Department of Education to preserve Gabaldon buildings throughout the country, we enjoin you to refrain from demolishing or altering the Gabaldon building in keeping with the law,” Diokno said.
Gabaldon buildings refer to the educational structures designed by American Architect William Parsons and funded through Act No. 1801 authored by Nueva Ecija Assemblyman Isauro Gabaldon during the American period.
Diokno wrote the letter after BCS Parents Teachers Association Filipinas Alcantara asked the NHCP to restore or renovate the buildings instead of destroying them “to cater to the sinister desire of some enterprising opportunist(s) to pursue their selfish plans at the expense of public interest and blatant disregard of the national heritage law.”
Alcantara and then PTA vice president Nelson Borillo first wrote a letter in 2013, saying the school already attained the status as national heritage, a historical landmark in the town, and a legacy of their ancestors.
“Our Alma Mater is a priceless memorial and monument that should not be destroyed or demolished but to be preserved and protected,” the two said.
But the first letter was not answered, and the second letter that Alcantara personally handed to Diokno, got a reply.
The Congress approved the bill proposing the conservation of Gabaldon and other heritage school buildings. The bill, authored by Rep. Victoria Isalbel Noel (An Waray partylist), said it was during the Commonwealth Era when the Americans introduced the public school system to the country.
“To meet the need for public school buildings, the Philippine Assembly passed as the law for the buildings called Gabaldon,” House Bill 5794 said.
“These Gabaldon schoolhouses have withstood the elements and until the present are still being used by public schools throughout the country. The proposal is to rehabilitate and repair them nationwide to preserve their historical significance and repair them to preserve their historical significance and address the ever growing need for educational facilities,” Noel said.
The Gabaldon buildings are inside the 3.2 hectare old BCS campus along the national highway which was swapped with 2.2 hectare with a 60-classroom building in barangay Bical, owned by one Willy Chua.
The Department of Education was ordered to by a local court transfer to the new campus in 2013, citing reasons of the local government that the school needed to be rehabilitated.
Local businessmen chipped in to repair the school buildings but the DepEd is waiting for another order from the court to return to the old campus. (YOLANDA SOTELO)
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