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Old Cagayan jail expected to be declared as cultural heritage site

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Tribunal de Tuguegarao, mostly known as the old provincial jail in Bagumbayan in this city, may soon be declared as a cultural heritage site and a provincial treasure.

In Cagayan Provincial Information Office’s Pagdidinnamagan: Kapehan sa Kapitolyo, Provincial Museum Curator Jenifer Junio-Baquiran said they are seeking the declaration from the National Commission on Culture and the Arts’s (NCCA) through line agencies National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the National Museum.

The NCCA will assess the site on October 17, Junio-Baquiran said.

Junio-Baquirad added that the NCCA will look at the physical structure of the tribunal, and conduct more research and verification of historical records and claims.

Tribunal de Tuguegarao will also be minimally renovated to serve as the new site of the Cagayan Museum and Historical Research Center, Junio-Baquiran said.

The provincial museum curator is hoping that the declaration and the move are set to take place next year.

The provincial government is also set to receive technical assistance and fund from the national government for renovation and development of the new museum’s site.

Junio-Baquiran said they have agreed to leave one jail room and bullet holes on the building’s walls untouched to preserve the historical value of the site.

Currently, the provincial government has already started fencing the old Cagayan jail.

She said that Governor Manuel Mamba told them to make the renovated museum “interactive.”

Meanwhile, the provincial government is continuously cataloguing and cleaning historical documents for preservation. Junio-Baquiran said people from the national archives trained their staff to handle and preserve important documents that are very rare, old, and brittle.

Junio-Baquiran said they are also planning to transform Tribunal de Tuguegarao and Jose Rizal Park into a cultural hub to enhance the culture and heritage of Cagayan.

Historical value

Junio-Baquiran said that it is important for the tribunal to be declared as a provincial property because of its historical value in the province.

Made out of rocks and limestone, Tribunal de Tuguegarao was said to be built on 1877 and has served as the office of the Alkalde Mayor, the then-equivalent of the mayor during Spanish times, Baquiran said.

In the Japanese occupation, the tribunal became a garrison.

Junio-Baquiran further said that the area, including the cathedral, Rizal’s Park, and the first site of the provincial capitol or what is now Primark Mall may also be declared as a heritage zone.

Aside from the Tribunal, the capitol main building is also eyed next for a declaration from NCCA. It was said to have been built during the American period.

“Sa ating National Cultural Heritage Act pwede nang ipadeklara ang mga building o mga kagamitan na at least 50 years old, especially when it (historical site) is related to local history and had an effect on how it changed the locality’s society,” she said.

She encouraged local government units to coordinate with them in determining possible cultural sites and heritage zones in the province.

She said they are conducting more research on built sites and buildings.

In 2016, Junio-Baquiran said the provincial museum was granted P1.5 million from NCCA for its culture and arts programs. Northernforum.net

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