DAGUPAN CITY -- The West Central Elementary School I Home Economics Building in this city, also known as MacArthur building and a historical landmark as it used to be Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters, is currently under restoration works.
The building became MacArthur’s office following his landing at Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945 during World War II.
“The DepEd has allotted PHP4 million for the restoration of the McArthur building,” Department of Education (DepEd) engineer Tatum Grace Manzano of Dagupan City Schools Division said in an interview Monday.
Manzano said the MacArthur building is classified as a “Gabaldon structure”.
Republic Act 11194, otherwise known as the ‘Gabaldon School Buildings Conservation Act, which was co-authored by Pangasinan (4th District) Rep. Christopher de Venecia, allocates funds for reparation and restoration all heritage buildings built between 1907 and 1946.
Manzano said the restoration, which would take around 100 working days, would cover the elevation of the building in order to protect it from the city’s annual flooding problem.
Currently, the building’s ground floor is underwater due to rains brought by the southwest monsoon or “habagat”.
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As of latest inventory, 60 percent of the parts taken out of MacArthur building are still functional, and will be returned for post processing.
However, de Venecia expressed concern over the restoration.
In a statement on Tuesday, de Venecia said Dagupan City Vice Mayor Bryan Kua informed him of DepEd’s move, prompting him to inquire with DepEd about the restoration process.
De Venecia cited Section 5 of Republic Act 11194, that states: “The DepEd, in consultation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), and the National Museum (NM), shall implement a program for the identification and conservation of all Gabaldon school buildings nationwide.”
DepEd, according to Kua, is implementing the Heritage School Building Restoration Project, which is a nationwide project of DepEd, to preserve Gabaldon building and other heritage houses.
He vowed to give focus to the issue and to utilize his oversight function as congressman to conduct a hearing, in aid of legislation, to ensure the law is being implemented properly.
Constructed in 1909, the MacArthur building is the oldest schoolhouse in Dagupan City. Aside from being MacArthur’s headquarters in 1945, the building also served as the Pangasinan Provincial Capitol building from 1942 to 1945. (PNA)