MANILA -- Our country's history is as colorful as the banderitas we often hang on our streets during festivities.
Seafarers from Borneo, Sumatra, and Malaya are believed to have migrated to the Philippines some 30,000 years ago. Trade flourished and contributed to convergence of various cultures. By the 16th century, Spaniards started their expedition to the Philippines and three centuries of conquest ensued. What followed were bloody revolutions, colonization by America and Japan, military regime, and not to mention the natural calamities that struck our land.
In such long history, we have erected numerous structures that were witnesses to our past. Most of these have survived earthquakes, fires, and even city-wide bombings, but not the capitalist's incessant need to "pave paradise and put up a parking lot" (as the song goes).
This is a reality that a recent episode of "Dolce Amore" highlighted. Serena Marchesa (Liza Soberano), an Italian bella visiting the Philippines, brought her best friend Giancarlo de Luca (Matteo Guidicelli) to the often ignored heritage sites of Manila.
Their first stop was Paco Park, a recreational garden that used to be a municipal cemetery. A bit disappointed, Giancarlo thought that the site's claim-to-fame is its age of about five centuries. This isn't true, of course, since it was opened to the public in 1822.
Serena: You know, in this country, they don't like keeping old things. They tear it down and build a big big mall.
Giancarlo: Talaga? Terible iyon!
Serena: Well, maybe it's a country trying to find its identity.
Giancarlo: But if you don't have your history, saan ang reference nila?
As if on cue, Serena brought Giancarlo to the monument of a great Philippine hero at Luneta Park. She introduced her best friend to the country's "pambansang idol," Jose Rizal, who managed to ignite the fire for nationalism through his two novels "Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo."
Giancarlo can't avoid but point to the "pambansang photobomber," the controversial 49-storey structure that obstructs the backdrop of the Rizal Monument. Sadly, it mars the view of one of the icons of our national pride and is an eyesore around the skyline of a heritage site. What's more unfortunate is that it was allowed to do so.
Giancarlo: It's not very nice.
Serena: Yeah. Ruin the view.
Indeed, it's not very nice. We can only wait by the sidelines as we lose one heritage site after another. Or should we just wait?
This article was originally published on the Choose Philippines website.