A team of experts from the National Historical Institute (NHI) arrived in Dagupan City on September 1 to gain new insights and perspectives about the city by visiting its 7 historical landmarks.
The NHI group, headed by supervisor for history research Lorelei Deviana and history researcher Maria Luisa Valerio, both architects, surveyed the 7 sites as jointly recommended by the Dagupan Heritage Commission and Metro Dagupan Culture and Arts Council (MDCAC).
Priority in their list of landmarks was the home economics building at the West Central Elementary School which General Douglas MacArthur used as temporary headquarters after landing at the Lingayen Gulf, in fulfillment of the “I shall return” promise he had made before leaving the Philippines for Australia to spearhead Allied preparations for the liberation of the Philippines and other Asia-Pacific countries from the Japanese. Next on their priority list was the Gabaldon Schoolhouse, also found at the West Central.
According to Nora G. Siapno, MDCAC chairman, the history experts were amazed upon seeing the century-old buildings still standing erect and even survived the devastating earthquake 16 years ago.
”This is a major boost in our tourism landscape. Dagupan will surely benefit from the institute’s much needed expertise – assisting the city executives educate its citizenry and stakeholders on heritage conservation and preservation,” Mayor Lim said during the group’s courtesy call on him at his City Hall office.
Other landmarks they toured were the City Hall, PNR station, Spanish and American stations, ancestral house of the De Venecias in Tambac and the landing site of General MacArthur in Bonuan Gueset, which is now a subject of controversy due to a landowner’s claim of ownership of the vicinity.
”We should follow great cities of the world where preservation, conservation and restoration of old structures are high on their priority list. Tourism has earned these cities enormous sums of money,” stressed Carmen Prieto of the heritage commission.
Before departing, the NHI group thanked the city government for its warm reception and hospitality.Leziel T. Cayabyab