By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas disclosed on Sunday that the Department of Education (DepEd) will be spending P384 million next year to preserve around 1,800 Gabaldon-type and other heritage school buildings nationwide.
The House Committee on Appropriations member cited that of the 1,800 Gabaldon school blocks, over 140 heritage public school buildings are found in Cebu.
“The amount is on top of the P2.06 billion already earmarked this year for the conservation and restoration of Gabaldon and other historical school houses,” Gullas, an educator, said in a statement.
Gabaldon school buildings refer to school buildings designed by American Architect William Parsons and funded through Act No. 1801 authored by Nueva Ecija Assemblyman Isauro Gabaldon during the American Period.
Gullas said many of the remaining Gabaldon school structures are now well over a century old.
“They were constructed under what was basically the country’s first public school building program,” he noted.
Gabaldon, a member of the 1907 Philippine Assembly, authored a law seeking P1 million appropriation “for the construction of schoolhouses of strong materials in barrios with guaranteed daily attendance of not less than 60 pupils.”
“Our Gabaldon schoolhouses are valuable cultural assets that hold pieces of our history,” Gullas said.
He cited that President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act 11194 in January this year for the conservation and restoration of Gabaldon school buildings.
“There is a need to safeguard the heritage school structures to remind future generations of Filipinos of the grandeur and aesthetic splendor of the architectural designs of the past,” he said.
Republic Act 11194 mandates the DepEd to implement a program for the identification and conservation of all Gabaldon and other heritage school buildings nationwide in coordination with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the National Museum (NM).
All Gabaldon schoolhouses are considered as “built heritage” that form part of the country’s “cultural property” under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, the law states.