BAGUIO CITY – The members of the Board of Trustees of the Baguio Museum Inc. are requesting the City Government for the official delineation of the 1,500 square meters of land where the museum is located along Gov. Pack road and Harrison road for titling under the group’s name.
The Baguio Museum Inc., in a letter to Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, cited the ownership of the complex has been the bone of contention for every change of leadership of the Cordillera office of the Department of Tourism (DOT-CAR), thus, it is time to clarify the said issue and lay it to rest to avoid future misunderstandings.
“There is a sense of urgency, as the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) which claims the Sunshine Park and the museum lots belong to them, is now set to title the lands in line with its drive to title all lots that belong to the agency in Baguio, Mount Data and Banaue, Ifugao,”the letter stated.
The board cited ‘we believe that the Baguio museum is part of cultural heritage and identity of Baguio City and that its environmental autobiography is part of Baguio’s unique history,”
Further, the board added the sacrifices and contributions of the ‘three beloved witches Virginia “Gene” de Guia, Leonora San Agustin and Cecile Afable, women icons of the museum Leonarda Capuyan and Geraldine Hamada, the Board of Trustees from 1997 to present, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the city officials should not be erased by modern concepts of urbanization, no matter how grand and ambitious they are.
They reiterate that Baguio is unique on its own, and the Baguio museum belongs to the people of Baguio, not the national government.
The 39-year old Baguio museum was built in 1975 by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) under the chairmanship of former Tourism Secretary Jose Aspiras and Mayor Luis Lardizabal in preparation for the ‘World Karpov-Korchnoi international chess tournament” and was inspired by Ifugao architecture as seen in the various structures in Baguio like the Baguio Convention Center, and the Burnham grandstand.
Of the 4,979 square meters of city lot, 3,420 square meters was ceded by the City of Baguio to the PTA, so it can build the Baguio museum in the 1,500 square meters of city lot allocated for the Baguio museum.
After the Baguio museum was devastated by the July 16, 1990, earthquake, the museum moved to Camp John Hay and then to the back portion of the Baguio Convention Center while the old museum at Gov. Pack road remained untouched for ten years, except for the demolition of the old building.
The NCCA under the chairmanship of Jaime Laya took pity on the ‘sorry state’ of the museum, hence, gave P1.2 million financial assistance to rebuild the ground floor of the museum at its original and present site along Gov. Pack road. Domogan, who interposed no objection to the rebuilding of the museum, reportedly promised the late Executive Director Leonora San Agustin and the Board of Trustees, that he would rebuild the museum and fulfilled his promise when he became a congressman. In 2003, the remaining three floors of the museum were completed at its original site and was turned over to the board./By Dexter A. See