Home » Article » Fort Santiago, Intramuros facing “irreparable loss, destruction,” report says

Fort Santiago, Intramuros facing “irreparable loss, destruction,” report says

Published May 5, 2012, 8:56 p.m. PHT

Last updated May 19, 2012, 7:32 a.m. PHT

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Fort Santiago is a defense fortress in Manila built during the Spanish colonial period in honor of St. James the Great. National hero Jose Rizal was imprisoned in Fort Santiago before his execution in 1896. (JPR File Photo)

MANILA, Philippines (JPR) — Heritage sites Fort Santiago and Intramuros in Manila are facing “irreparable loss and destruction” due to man-made threats, a Global Heritage Fund (GHF) report revealed.

The report identified modernization and commercialism, politics and insufficient management as threats to the current condition of these sites.

“If nothing is done to assert Intramuros’s right to preserve its rich heritage, there is a strong likelihood that it will be soon overrun by rampant commercialism. If indeed this happens, all the efforts to rebuild this jewel of Manila after its destruction in World War II will have been in vain,” the report said.

The GHF report, “Saving Our Vanishing Heritage: Asia’s Heritage in Peril,” listed 9 other sites in Asia facing the same fate as Fort Santiago and Intramuros. The list also includes:

  • Ayutthaya, Thailand: “Venice of the East,” Former Siamese Capital
  • Kashgar, China: One of the Last Intact Silk Road Cities in China
  • Mahasthangarh, Bangladesh: One of South Asia’s Earliest Urban Archaeological Sites
  • Mes Aynak, Afghanistan: Ancient Buddhist Monastery Complex on the Silk Road
  • Myauk-U, Myanmar: Capital City of the First Arakenese Kingdom
  • Plain of Jars, Laos: Megalithic Archaeological Landscape with Mysterious Origins
  • Preah Vihear, Cambodia: Picturesque Masterpiece of Khmer Architecture
  • Rakhigari, India: One of the Largest and Oldest Indus Sites in the World
  • Taxila, Pakistan: Former Crossroads of Industry in the Ancient Middle East

The GHF released the report in a forum held in New York on Thursday, May 3 (Friday, May 4 PHT).

(Read: Global Heritage Fund Report: “Saving Our Vanishing Heritage: Asia’s Heritage in Peril”)

“The purpose of Asia’s Heritage in Peril report is to alert the world to the threats facing our vanishing heritage sites today, what we can do to save them, and what they can do to save us,” said Jeff Morgan, executive director of GHF.

“These 10 sites represent merely a fragment of the endangered treasures across Asia and the rest of the developing world, but each symbolizes a significant economic growth driver for communities in need and an opportunity to preserve our collective human history,” Morgan added.

Puerta de Isabel II (Intramuros, Manila)PHOTO: Puerta de Isabel II in Intramuros, Manila

Aduana (Old Customs House) in Intramuros, ManilaPHOTO: Aduana (Old Customs House) in Intramuros, Manila

Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, ManilaPHOTO: Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila

The report was based on a study by experts from GHF that evaluated current loss and destruction, conservation and development of some 500 heritage sites in developing countries.

Meanwhile, in a telephone interview with Jeric Pena Reports, Intramuros Administration (IA) chief Jose Capistrano Jr. clarified that the GHF report was based on a 2010 study. He believes that Fort Santiago’s inclusion in the list was a mistake.

Capistrano said that the GHF team led by Morgan visited Fort Santiago in June 2011 and was satisfied with the current condition of the site.

Capistrano added that Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. has recently approved the master development plan for Intramuros.

GHF is an international conservancy devoted to saving endangered cultural heritage sites in developing countries.