The DOT, through its infrastructure arm Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), has earmarked P15 million for the Detailed Architectural and Engineering Studies (DAES) for the state of conservation assessment and pre-restoration work of the Manila Central Post Office building (MCPO), an architectural icon and one of the oldest landmarks of the Philippine capital, which was torn through by a massive fire on May 22, 2023.
The neo-classical building sits as an iconic backdrop of the beautified Pasig River Esplanade at Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila.
“Apart from the promotion of our tourism gems, the Department of Tourism views it imperative to support the preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration of our country’s cultural and heritage sites, very much our tourism assets. The Manila Post Office has witnessed the life and times of our nation, forging friendships, familial ties, commerce and trade, and etching history through its postal services. Rehabilitation gives opportunities for transformation to benefit the promotion of our culture, arts, and history, and of course, tourism, which can create added opportunities for livelihood for our fellow Filipinos,” Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said.
The tourism chief stressed that the earmarking of government funds for the conservation assessment and pre-restoration work on the country’s Central Post Office is a timely and necessary move since the national government has already laid the groundwork for the PRUD project, dubbed as the Pasig Bigyan Buhay Muli, done under the guidance of the Office of the First Lady.
In August 2023, Secretary Frasco, who sits as the chairman of TIEZA, proposed to assist in the rehabilitation of the Manila Post Office during Inter-Agency Task Force for Cultural Heritage (IATF-CH) meeting composed of cultural authorities, NCCA, the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP), and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost), the DOT, and the City of Manila.
The restoration project requires an integrated and multi-sectoral approach considering the depth of the damage and the cultural relevance MCPO holds.
Under the Terms of Reference (TOR) submitted by the NCCA to TIEZA, the cultural commission said that the “endeavor is deemed necessary in finding ways to preserve the remnants and assess its conservation potential.”
“In preparing the conservation plan, it is important that key decision makers including the technical working group of the cultural agencies must have extensive knowledge and expertise on heritage preservation. They must carefully take into consideration the structure/s function, significance, history, character, materials, past interventions, and existing condition of its physical components. Hence, a Detailed Architectural and Engineering Studies (DAES) is a fundamental requirement before commencement of any restoration works,” the document said.
The DAES shall serve as a complete and comprehensive assessment of the overall existing condition and future interventions that will be done on the structure and its site.
There will be two parts to the conduct of the DAES. The first phase is the creation of plans for the pre-restoration work, and the second phase is for the creation of the rehabilitation and conservation plan that will be implemented.
An amount of P6 million was allocated for the design of the shoring, the design of construction scaffoldings to access the walls, the design of the temporary roof, and the methodology for the said work.
Another P6 million was for the condition assessment plans and building of diagnostic results which mainly touches on plans for the damaged areas, and P3 million was for the process of cost analysis of the state of damage of the MCPO.
Last January 16, 2024, project consultants, TIEZA, and PHLPost have already carried out a joint inspection at the MCPO for the preliminary evaluation of the site. The DOT and other agencies directly involved in the restoration project also met subsequently for a meeting to effectively implement strategies in giving the iconic MCPO a new life for heritage, culture, and arts tourism to further prosper in the country.