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MINDAVIEWS | What Can a Town Do When it Does not Have any Heritage?

By Karlo Antonio Galay David

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews)—What can a town do when it does not have any heritage?

This question first became relevant in Kidapawan in 2019.

Then City Mayor Joseph Evangelista was having a conversation with National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) representatives who had given a three-day training on cultural mapping and who were paying him a courtesy visit.

Manong Joseph lamented that Kidapawan did not have a heritage zone—nothing like Vigan, or Silay, or Kyoto, or the European capitals, or other concentrations of heritage properties.

It is a predicament many towns in Mindanao know all too well.

For the longest time the dominant mindset has been what is good is what is new, the old is something we move on from, discard, demolish.

Now we are beginning to suffer the repercussions.

Heritage-rich towns around the world continue to earn millions in cumulative revenue annually from heritage tourism, income that places like Kidapawan are missing out on.

These places have distinct identities that help with branding, giving their local businesses a boost (in contrast with Kidapawan still struggles to articulate its identity as a town).

And the genuine pride of place is keeping these towns’ most skilled people connected to them, far cry from the brain drain Kidapawan continues to suffer.

We recognize the challenges of heritage conservation, especially for built heritage structures—keeping an old building intact is costly, it is hard to find the specialized skills needed to pull it off, and it limits how you can use a building. The odds are stacked against adaptive reuse.

But here in the Madriguera Building, the Masbad family has created what may be an exciting way forward—to imagine adaptive reuse and heritage conservation in intangible terms, as a primarily creative exercise.

No matter how much Manong Bingo might have wanted it, keeping the old Madriguera Mansion intact was not viable.

But being the visionary that he is, he saw that while he may lose the physical house that he grew up in, the idea of it will forever live on in his heart and in his memories.

And so came the idea of building a new structure, but one which uses parts of the original house and retaining its identity.

If you cannot conserve the tangible, you assert the intangible.

While the original Madriguera Mansion may be gone, there are still enough of the components left to keep it alive: the location, the design (these capiz shell windows on the corner are meant to replicate their original position in the mansion), and these pieces of wood and windows from which, almost talisman-like, the very concept of the building emanates.

But more importantly, there is still the attachment with which Nong Bingo calls this space home, an attachment he inherited from the Madrigueras and which he now passes on to Kuya Wacky, Kuya Adiel, Ate Elian, Micah, and me.

We note, of course, that there are precedents to this. The Masjid Karim Makdhum in Simunul, Tawi-Tawi—the oldest mosque in the Philippines—was first built around 1380, but the current structure only dates to the 1960s. The building lives from its location, the four old pillars that have been kept intact over the centuries, and the devotion of the locals to the memory of the Masjid.

I argue, however, that this is a distinctly Kidapawan approach to adaptive reuse, and it is a practice shared by all three of Kidapawan’s peoples.

Not far from here, the Moro Abubakar family rebuilt their home using the wood salvaged from the mansion their father once built.

And up in the MADADMA ancestral domain we have found Monuvu houses built after the 2019 earthquakes using wood that goes back a century.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Karlo Antonio G. David has been writing the history of Kidapawan City for the past thirteen years.)



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