A lawmaker from the Visayas region on Tuesday appealed to the Senate to prioritize the passage of a bill approved in the House of Representatives proclaiming Carcar City in Cebu as a national cultural heritage zone.
“Congress has to move fast to safeguard Carcar’s historical structures, which include various works of art, in the interest of enriching the national patrimony,” Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas, chairman of the House Committee on Land Use, said.
“The old-fashioned buildings that still stand up to now in Carcar are national treasures that will surely help remind future generations of the grandeur and aesthetic splendor of the architectural creations of the past,” Gullas said.
“Carcar is just like Vigan City in Ilocos Sur, boasting of several architecturally significant vintage houses built during the Spanish era and a classical church,” Gullas, former Cebu provincial governor, pointed out.
The House passed on third and final reading in December the bill seeking to declare Carcar a cultural heritage zone.
House Bill 5644, authored by Gullas, was transmitted to the Senate the same month, and is now awaiting action by the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture.
A heritage zone refers to historical, anthropological, archaeological and artistic geographical areas and settings that are culturally important to the country.
Once tagged as a heritage zone, Carcar’s streets, parks, monuments, buildings and even natural water bodies would be kept as close as possible to their forms at the time when they were of greatest importance to Philippine history, as determined by the National Historical Institute.
They would be restored, if necessary, and then preserved and properly maintained. The city would also be accorded priority development by the Department of Tourism and the Cebu provincial government for the purpose of encouraging sight-seeing by visitors.
“Carcar’s preservation will give more meaning to the mandate of the 1987 Constitution for the State to protect and promote our historical resources for the purpose of enriching the national culture,” Gullas said.
Located some 40 kilometers southwest of Cebu City, Carcar boasts an assortment of artistic designs, including architecturally distinctive Spanish to American houses.
The city’s classical Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria is likewise admired for its Byzantine outline, Greco-Roman altar, and twin bell towers with a minaret, a rare architectural feature of mosques.
Carcar’s rotunda, a key landmark, is also unique and remarkable for its shape and scope.
Carcar was established as a municipality 421 years ago, in 1599.The modern-day Carcar forms part of Metro Cebu, and belongs to Cebu province’s first district, which Gullas represents in Congress.
With a population of more than 120,000, Carcar was upgraded into a city in 2007 through Gullas’ efforts.
The city is known for producing rice puffs (ampao), a native delicacy, and pork cracklings (chicharon).
Carcar also has a protected 58-hectare hot spring national park.