Following the signing of a new law mandating the conservation of Gabaldon school buildings nationwide, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) directs all local government units (LGUs) to support the Department of Education (DepEd) in the preservation and protection of Gabaldon school buildings within their jurisdiction.
DILG Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya says that under Republic Act 11194 or the Gabaldon School Buildings Conservation Act signed on January 18, 2019, LGUs are mandated to provide DepEd with necessary assistance in the implementation of any conservation projects as the law prohibits “any modification, alteration, destruction, demolition or relocation of Gabaldon school buildings.”
“So many of our Gabaldon School Buildings have been destroyed while some of those remaining have been modified to such a degree that the original elements are no longer recognizable. While the buildings are DepEd property, the LGUs are partly to blame for their deterioration,” he said.
“Local governments should ensure that such heritage schools are preserved because they are part and parcel of our national heritage. For instance, they should refuse funds for the renovation of Gabaldon school buildings that do not follow conservation rules,” he added.
Malaya urged LGUs to provide funding for the repair of these heritage buildings only if conservation and heritage rules are complied with.
Gabaldon buildings are those designed by American Architect William Parsons and funded through the Gabaldon Law or Act No. 1801 authored by Assemblyman Isauro Gabaldon of Nueva Ecija. The law provided funding for the building of public schools in the country in the 1900s.
Section 4 of RA 11194 states that all Gabaldon school buildings shall be recognized as built heritage and will be included as part of cultural properties under the National Cultural Heritage Act.
The DILG also urged LGUs to assist DepEd and other concerned agencies of the government in the conduct of an inventory of all Gabaldon school buildings, whether fully functional or condemned, in all public elementary and secondary schools as mandated by the law.
Under RA 11194, DepEd, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the National Museum shall “implement a program for the identification and conservation of all Gabaldon school buildings nationwide.”
According to the latest data, there are still about 1,446 Gabaldon school buildings in the Philippines but many of them have been renovated.