Heritage work – starts with the awareness that only by acknowledging our patrimony, our heritage in these various fields that we have received from those who came before us, can we get set for the heavy task of preserving them and transmitting them on to those who will come after us.
Why preserve a heritage at all? The goal is not to remember them the next year, the goal is to always remember them for a hundred years, two hundred, hundreds of years. Thus, age-old traditions, historical houses and artifacts are heritages that will hopefully still be around hundreds of years hence. The heritage work on these areas is timeless. Heritage is a living museum.
Historical accounts stay on and on. Jerry Martin Alfafara’s Carcar history project for the province will serve the town and our understanding of it for hundreds of years to come. That and other historical works (Noel, Florido, etc.) and so, too, family trees that families labored to reconstruct will still be with us and gainfully researched on by Carcaranons 200 years from now.
Music and art works are precious heritage in that regard, too, but these undergo a different sort of valuation. Sculptures and paintings are there to be easily seen but music and literature have to be heard and read or dramatized before they can be truly appreciated.
More on heritage structures. When shown an old photograph of the town plaza, many viewers gush over what they call the Carcar of yesteryears, and wish the plaza returned to the unhurried state evoked by the picture. But the reality is there may be not one but ten different photographs, and thus ten different views, of the old plaza; the reality is different periods of our history had “different” plazas and that we can no longer turn back the clock without pushing out one view after another. Indeed, a wide spread of Bermuda grass would have been very inviting to little children to run in it, except when its preservation too, invites local authorities to then put up a sign: Keep off the grass.
An old (1910) photograph of the municipal building at the time shows how much that old building would have seamlessly matched its surroundings in our heritage plaza. But in 1964 we built another municipio, of course to the prevailing style of 1964. And why not? Let’s preserve the old but why should we put up a building in 2010 to the style of 1900? Why do we always fake it, like the faux antique furniture suddenly thrown into old houses. Really, can fakes evoke nostalgia? Carcar is not supposed to be a 1900-town, it has to be an 1850 to the future town. Otherwise we will be a faux antique town. Many heritage conservation purists would howl protests but, really, perhaps they might as well put their money where their advocacies, and howls, are. Only as part-owners can they have a license to tell legitimate property owners what to do with their properties. And, does a townsman of Carcar like me have a right to the Boljoon church, too? How big a right to my own church can I even claim?
Meanwhile, look over the Carcar plaza today, old buildings that just instinctively collectively look old and a municipio that seems out of place, but just because, inaugurated in 1964, it looks so contemporary. And rightfully so, being only 46 years old.
But is it really out of sync? Look on the plaza this way: the oldest structure is the church–built 1860-1875. Then in ten years, the convento in 1880. The Upland school building says 1905 right on its portal — 15 years later; 30 years after the church. The the Rizal monument has Dec. 30, 1927 on it — 22 years later; 52 years after the church. The old Home Economics Building was destroyed to make way for the now-iconic Dispensary Building, which was started 1929 but finished in the late ’30s — more than 10 years after Rizal and 62 years after the church. The Leon Kilat monument was built in 1959 — about 20 years after the Dispensary and, again, almost 82 years after the church. Then the new municipio, built 1964, actually just 89 years after the church, but perhaps looking out-of-place to the untrained eye even as it is only 6 years younger than the magnificent Leon Kilat monument. And finally the Legislative Building, to the side of the municipio, finished in 2007. Now that is 43 years after the former, actually the longest gap between the buildings in the plaza — and yet, because of our stilted viewpoint we bracket both buildings as contemporary.
Incongruous? No, panoramic. The plaza is Carcar architectural history in a continuum.
And yet, in that 1910 photograph another building could be seen beside the municipio, but it was not the Dispensary that we see today. It was called the Home Economics Building. You realize that one heritage structure then in 1910 was razed a decade later to make way for a new building that is now, almost a century after, commonly called the heritage structure of Carcar. And yet another photograph tells us that where now stands the magnificent Rizal monument was a simpler carousel-type structure where it is said the town gathered on important occasions and where the town band used to play and townspeople of various strata of society came to listen to music, the great social leveler. The rotunda was perhaps built just to serve that same function and so, 80-some years later, the rotunda is now the second, perhaps even the first, most recognized heritage structure of Carcar. Was there also an earlier heritage structure before the rotunda that was pushed away to give way to it? Politics? That, too.
The point being: What we see as heritage structures today were actually erected only by destroying an even earlier heritage on the same site. But we can’t do that anymore, discarding aside something we have just because officials have visualized a better one to take its place, as they could do in that early American period. Actually, they were able to do what they wanted then because the general population were in awe of their leaders and of the leaders’ abilities (and educational advantage surely) and they could do no mistake. But the exact opposite appreciation of authority seems to prevail today–sorry about that–as witness the destruction of the heritage fountain and the people’s mocking reactions to it.
Perhaps the best solution would be to leave the old town as it is—a heritage site—but develop a new modern center somewhere else. That’s the only way Carcar’s inevitable growth will not be stunted by a stunted view of the town’s true value. Perhaps that all-modern town, too, may even attract just as many tourists by its very modernity. Can we not envision that happening? Win-win. We win a major major way by not losing anything.
And what shall we call this old town? Since there is already a Daanglungsod (which is 200 years older) we can call this post-1850 town the Dikaayodaanglungsod. Win-win gihapon.
— — —
thanks to Jerry Martin Alfafara, Jared Cui, Tobias Pagusara Jr., Carcar Vintage Group.