Marc Jayson Cayabyab – The Philippine Star
October 4, 2023 | 12:00am
Soot covers the Manila Central Post Office in a photo taken on June 6, days after a fire broke out at the building on May 26.
MANILA, Philippines — The historic Manila Central Post Office, which was gutted in a fire last May, will not be demolished and instead will be repurposed for heritage tourism, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Frasco.
During yesterday’s Senate deliberations into the proposed P2.991-billion budget of the DOT and attached agencies in 2024, Frasco was asked by Sen. Nancy Binay, who chairs the Senate tourism committee, about plans to rebuild the post office.
Frasco said the DOT has met with the Philippine Postal Corp. (PHLPost), the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the National Museum to discuss plans to restore the gutted heritage building.
Instead of rebuilding it to continue to be the country’s post office, they agreed to restore it as a “mixed-use facility” and preserve it as part of the City of Manila’s heritage corridor, Frasco said.
“According to PHLPost, they are open to the utilization of the property not purely anymore as a post office, but as a mixed-use facility that would result in a creation of a cultural corridor within the city of Manila, especially considering its proximity to other heritage sites such as Intramuros,” Frasco said.
Sen. Loren Legarda said the heritage building should not be demolished to give way to another high-rise building in the metro.
Legarda said she has yet to convene as designated chairperson the special Senate committee tasked to look after restoration and rehabilitation of the iconic landmark.
“We will take into consideration everything said here. But definitely, we want it to be a cultural center, not a post office (anymore). And it should not be demolished. It just has to be retrofitted, not for demolition to build (another) high-rise. That’s (within) the historic quarters of Manila,” Legarda said.
The structure, built in 1926 and rebuilt after World War II, houses the Philippine Postal Office and offers a good view from the Pasig River because of its Greco-Roman pillars. Its neoclassical style was designed by Juan Arellano, Tomas Mapua and Ralph Doane.