Upgrade of Zambo's Fort Pilar slammed as 'desecration'
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - October 27, 2014 - 5:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — Resident of Zamboanga City and other concerned netizens slammed the "upgrading" of the historic Fort Pilar as an act of "desecration" and a misstep in the name of architectural conservation.

The red brick facade of the inner walls of Fort Pilar, which was a Spanish colonial military fortress in the city and currently used as a museum under the National Museum of the Philippines, was recently plastered with smooth bricks and painted white.

Councilor Vincent Paul "VP" Elago questioned on his Facebook account the "paletada" work done on the heritage site.

"Does our wall now look historic? Did they preserve the significance of the antique walls? What kind of 'paletada' work is this? It does not bear any difference to that of a newly cemented building wall! Who are they fooling?" Elago said.

He urged netizens to stop the National Museum from upgrading the north and west wings of the site.

Zamboanga resident Bigmike Muin, meanwhile, complained about the loss of the structure's architectural integrity.

"It is a tragedy when 'upgrading' outweighs the preservation of our culture and heritage," he said on Facebook.

A petition uploaded on Change.org also aims to collect signatures against the "deliberate disregard and violation of the historic Fort Pilar Museum."

Author Brian Joseph Bango noted in the petition addressed to th National Museum of the Philippines that Fort Pilar plays a pivotal role in the region's history and considered a "local treasure and source of pride" for Zamboanga residents.

[The upgrading project is a] clear indication of how a national office, supposed to honor local culture and pride has ironically committed an unequivocal exclusion of such by totally violating the place, turning the once historic place into what resembles an asylum- putting on bland, tasteless white walls where used to be red brick walls full of character and historical vibe. For a people who have lost so much in last year's siege, in about the same time that this project started, we cannot afford to lose some more, especially this important landmark which, we hold close to our hearts as it is a bastion of our rich cultural heritage and has become symbolic to our multicultural character as a city.

The National Museum, meanwhile, has not yet issued a statement on the matter. Elago said, however, that a representative from the National Museum is scheduled to visit Zamboanga to explain its side.

AUTHOR BRIAN JOSEPH BANGO BIGMIKE MUIN COUNCILOR VINCENT PAUL ELAGO FACEBOOK FORT PILAR MUSEUM NATIONAL MUSEUM NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES ZAMBOANGA
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