Mission compound as heritage site draws mixed reactions

>> Friday, February 26, 2016

Gina P. Dizon

SAGADA, Mountain Province --  Discussion ensued as a suggestion came from  congregation member and  municipal councilor Eduardo Umaming that the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin (CSMV) come up with a resolution declaring the Mission Compound as heritage site during the recent congregational assembly held here Feb. 14.
CSMV member and former municipal mayor Thomas Killip said what the members of the church say is vital in the proposed resolution for the Mission Compound to be declared a heritage site.
CSMV rector Rev. ConstancioNaoy said the final decision rests with the office of the Bishop with advice from the legal office of the church.
Currently now under the office of  Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines (EDNP)  Bishop Brent Alawas for review and approval, a proposed  ordinance from the  Sangguniang Bayan called for the CSMV Mission Compound to be declared a cultural and heritage site was earlier forwarded to EDNP late last year.  
Said proposed ordinance was forwarded to the CSMV and CSMV in turn forwarded this to the EDNP.While decision rests with the Bishop, Umaming said it would be good to have a congregational stand on the  issue.
CSMV curate and  dean of Sagada deanery  Rev. Charles Buking said that much as the  final decision rests with the Bishop  it would be good to know what the Bishop says on the matter.
Buking further said it would be good for the congregation to have a thorough knowledge on what it means for the Mission Compound  to be declared as a heritage site so to fully understand the implications of it.
Based on the heritage law, agreements include terms aside from financial assistance, on public access to the property, restriction of the right to perform any acts on or near the property by the owner or occupant of the lot or property and agreements annotated on the title of the property.
The heritage law entitles a heritage site or a building to privilege of funding for its protection, preservation and restoration from  cultural government  offices including the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
The heritage law intends to protect and preserve the country’s cultural heritage, property and histories and ethnicity of local communities.This includes the issuance of a cease and desist order by the concerned  government  agency on any alteration of a heritage site or cultural property.
 Following  the discussions, comment ensued on whether the declaration of the Mission Compound as a heritage site shall  depend any development plan or development initiative that shall be introduced in the  church compound.
Umaming relayed that an advisory body shall be created to screen any development proposed on the church site.
Calls for the Mission Compound to be declared heritage site was earlier discussed during a presentation of research findings  on Sagada  as a potential heritage site of Masteral students from the University of the Philippines College of Architecture  headed by Prof and Architect  Jojo Rene Mata May last year.
The sprawling Mission Compound established in the early 1990s covers a 34- hectare lot titled under the  Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines. On this lot are old church buildings including the Boys Dormitory, Girls Dormitory, St Mary’s School, athletic grounds,  St Theodore’s Hospital, Orphanage which now houses St Jo Café, St Mary’s Convent which now houses the Parish Office, old Parish Building  which now houses SPED, Kindergarten School, public cemetery, Calvary Hill, and a splendid  greenbelt which makes  Sagada look clean and  green.


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