Our identity is now but a speck in the footprints of history left by our forefathers.
Wars and more fatal peacetime developments have erased most parts of our past.
The greens had been paved for ease of movement of the same people longing for bygone times.
These are not just old houses. They host our DNA as a people
Yesterday’s memories are scant but they left a certain scent and feel.
Old houses and buildings are now more appreciated by the younger folks, the Millennials and Generation Z, whose senses seem to date back to many decades before Generation X.
They belonged to the times of the GenXers’ moms and dads.
Today’s youth appreciate tinges of the old as they embrace the new.
Vinyl records, thrift shop clothes, tweaked, ’70s hairstyles. They have become common nowadays, again. They compete with digital music and movies accessed easily from their computers but which could not win against the physical presence of what their elders have left.
But old houses — dints and all — they can never regain.
Thankfully, several families — with a little help from government — have saved theirs for us to look at.
Philippine Congress in 2009 passed the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 or Republic Act 10066 to protect the cultural treasures of the country.
Heritage houses recognized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines are ancestral houses which are still owned by their owners.
Ancestral homes that have figured in an event of historical significance like the Bonifacio Trial House in Maragondon, Cavite or those of national heroes like the Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte are included among the categories “national shrines” or “national historical landmarks.”
Historical markers are placed on the houses by the commission to indicate their significance. These are registered at the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property.
Some old houses, however, had to go after they were sold and demolished for commercial developments.
But many of these structures can still be found in Vigan in Ilocos Sur, which is the best-preserved Spanish colonial settlement in the country. It was declared as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1999.
Bulacan also has a number of heritage houses.
Quiapo, in Manila, has hidden gems. But some of these are in danger of collapse and are in need of preservation.
Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon and Lucena still keep some of these historical houses.
Negros, Bacolod, Cebu, Guimaras and many other parts of the Visayas and Mindanao maintain their historical and cultural attachment to old edifices, which are worth preserving.
Because these are not just old houses. They host our DNA as a people.