THE Department of Education (DepEd) will spend another P384 million in 2020 to renew and preserve heritage public school buildings, a lawmaker said.
“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,” said House Appropriations Committee member and Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas.
“We have nationwide around 1,800 Gabaldon school blocks, of which over 140 are in Cebu,” Gullas, an educator, added.
Many of the remaining Gabaldon school structures were built during the early years of American colonization, and are now well over a century old.
“They were constructed under what was basically the country’s first public school building program,” Gullas pointed out.
The program was introduced by Isauro Gabaldon, a member of the 1907 Philippine Assembly who authored the law that appropriated P1 million “for the construction of school houses of strong materials in barrios with guaranteed daily attendance of not less than 60 pupils.”
“Our Gabaldon school houses are valuable cultural assets that hold pieces of our history,” Gullas said.
Gullas also cited the 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.”
The conservation and restoration of Gabaldon school buildings is mandated by Republic Act 11194, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law in January this year.
The new law compels the DepEd to identify, refurbish and protect all Gabaldon school structures in coordination with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the National Historical Commission and the National Museum.
Under the law, all Gabaldon school houses are recognized as “built heritage” that form part of the country’s “cultural property” under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
Gabaldon school houses were built based on a standard design developed by William Parsons, a consulting architect to the United States government from 1905 to 1914.