MANILA – Senator Francis ‘TOL’ N. Tolentino said it’s about time that modern fire prevention systems as part of the National Building Code should be placed along heritage sites across the country.
Tolentino made the statement during his weekly regular television guesting on Net25, amid the massive fire that razed down the historic Manila Central Post Office last Sunday.
“Ang lesson learned dapat dito ay: Hindi pala equipped itong ating mga ganitong (heritage) gusali sa mga modernong firefighting devices,” said Tolentino on Thursday.
Originally built in 1926 and finished in 1928, the Manila Central Post Office building is a masterpiece of renowned Filipino architects Juan M. Arellano and Tomás Mapúa. The building was severely damaged in the latter part of the Second World War—during the Liberation of Manila. It was subsequently rebuilt in 1946 while retaining most of its original design.
Tolentino was saddened that responders failed to prevent the fire from tearing down the almost-century-old neo-classical structure, the fact that it’s just standing beside the Pasig River.
“Nakakalungkot, katabi lang ng Pasig River, eh mayroon naman tayong mga fireboats na pwedeng ibuga diyan—kukuhanan (hihigupin) lang ng water pump ‘yan dapat,” he added.
Meanwhile, Tolentino stressed that the recent Post Office fire incident should be a wake-up call for authorities to assess the current state of existing heritage sites in the country—including those owned by private individuals—since these historic structures are the silent witnesses of the Philippines’ glorious past.