ON an ordinary day, vehicles pass by the Old Presidencia in Makati City and their passengers seldom notice the presence of the historic structure. But if they slow down — or better yet, stop and enter — they will learn about its role in the development of one of the country’s richest cities.
In 2019, 32 years after it became the Museo ng Makati, the National Museum of the Philippines declared the Old Presidencia as an Important Cultural Property (ICP) for its cultural, artistic, and historical significance to the country. On July 28 this year, a bronze historical marker was unveiled at the 88-year-old Presidencia.
Built in 1918, a single-story edifice served as Makati’s administrative center. In 1934, mayor Nicanor Garcia headed the construction of a municipal hall at the same area which was called the Presidencia. In front of the hall was the Plaza Trece de Agosto where civic events were hosted. In 1961, the municipal government left the Presidencia, and moved to its present location along J.P. Rizal Ave. In 1990, then mayor Jejomar Binay designated the Presidencia as a local museum.
As the Museo ng Makati, it became a repository of archeological artifacts, earthenware, rare photographs, dioramas, and murals.
Makati City Mayor Mar-Len Abigail S. Binay, alongside NMP Director-General Jeremy R. Barns, led the unveiling of the historical marker last week.
According to the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, an Important Cultural Property is a property with “exceptional cultural, artistic, and historical significance to the Philippines.”
“This event is a significant milestone for our city’s efforts to preserve and promote our cultural heritage. The Old Presidencia is one of the few remaining Spanish-era structures in the country, and it is a valuable reminder of our rich history and cultural roots,” Ms. Binay said in her speech.
Ms. Binay also said the city will create management and curatorial plans and conduct traveling exhibits to promote and protect heritage sites in Makati. “We will also be working on an educational program to raise awareness on our cultural heritage and traditions,” she said.
“The fact that it plays the role of a well-maintained active local museum contributed a lot to us prioritizing its declaration,” Mr. Barns said in his speech, adding that the NMP prioritizes public buildings and buildings that are accessible to the public in declaring a structure an ICP.
Aside from the Old Presidencia, the NMP has also listed a number of other sites in Makati as ICPs under Resolution No. 1-2019: the church complex of San Pedro y San Pablo (Sts. Peter and Paul Church Complex) in Poblacion, the church complex of Nuestra Señora de Gracia in Guadalupe Viejo, Ermita de San Nicolas de Tolentino in West Rembo, the passenger terminal and control tower of the old Nielson Airport (now Blackbird Restaurant) in Bel-Air, and the Makati Stock Exchange Building. Except for the Makati Stock Exchange Building, the four structures have also been declared locally significant through City Ordinance No. 2019-A-094 or the Makati Built Heritage Ordinance. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman