This building has polarized stakeholders and the public on whether it should retain its label as “important cultural property.”
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has notified the public that PLDT Inc. filed a petition to remove the presumption of the Ramon Cojuangco Building (RCB) as an Important Cultural Property (ICP).
The late National Artist for Architecture Leandro V. Locsin designed the building in 1974, as the PLDT commissioned.
The 15-story structure took eight years before completion and then inauguration in 1982. It remains standing along Dela Rosa Street corner Makati Avenue in Legaspi Village.
Under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, works by a National Artist are considered ICPs.
However, the same law provides that “the property owner may petition the appropriate cultural agency to remove the presumption of important cultural property which shall not be unreasonably withheld.”
In its petition to delist the RCB as an ICP, PLDT said that the building is not representative of Locsin’s best work.
“The RCB does not represent the iconic works of Locsin. The RCB is generic, nondescript, and purged of any references to local culture, tradition, climate, or identity of the place,” the petition reads.
The NCCA posted that anyone affected by the petition may file their written support or opposition no later than June 7.
Objection, your honor
Swiss architect Jean-Claude Girard, who has extensively studied and written about Locsin, has since written a petition letter to the commission.
“The RCB is an important work in the oeuvre of Leandro V. Locsin and demonstrates exceptional cultural, artistic, and historical significance. In my expert opinion, it certainly is and must be regarded as an Important Cultural Property,” Girard wrote to the NCCA.
He is the author of the 2021 monograph Leandro V. Locsin: Filipino Architect. This stemmed from his doctoral thesis accomplished between 2013 to 2018, then later repackaged into a comprehensive monograph.
“The RCB was designed with the idea that the recess of the windows and the repetition of the horizontal concrete bands can give the building lightness and a sculptural effect. By taking advantage of the plot to break the volumes into different parts, Locsin managed to give the building an interesting façade,” Girard wrote.
The scholar said that despite small transformations made to the building, the current RCB still embodies Locsin’s distinctive style.
“My ambition, following ten years of research and writing on Locsin, was to ensure that his work would be recognized and protected. The world is now discovering the work of Leandro V. Locsin…It is unfortunate that in his own country, the Philippines, his work is not given due recognition,” Girard concluded.
Banner Photo by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts