CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro – The ground-breaking for a P60-million heritage museum that will showcase the province’s unique history and rich culture dating back to pre-Hispanic times was held last Sunday, November 15, as part of Oriental Mindoro’s 70th founding anniversary.
Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito A. Dolor said the museum will be part of a larger tourism plan where local and foreign tourists will have an opportunity to visit the heart of Calapan City thru a “tourism walk” that will start from the provincial capitol complex, traversing the city’s commercial area and historical landmarks ending at the museum and an old cemetery located inside a cathedral.
Dolor thanked former House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano for allocating a P60-million budget for the heritage museum complex, which will be constructed on an abandoned site of the old capitol adjacent to the Sto. Nino Cathedral in downtown Calapan. It is expected to be finished in eight months.
City Mayor Arnan C. Panaligan thanked the governor for putting up the project in the city as he pledged to give his full support to make it a major tourist attraction.
Florante Villarica, a local historian who also serves as special assistant for history, culture and arts of the provincial government, said the site was once a Spanish fortress against the constant attacks of Moro pirates that devastated the whole community from 17th and lasted up to 19th century.
The first recorded Moro attacks was recorded in 1602 and escalated to almost yearly that led the Spanish authorities to build a garrison at the town center near the church.
Dolor said the remaining edifice which was used as an observation point and telegraph messaging headquarters of the Japanese Kempetai forces during World War 2, will not be demolished, but will be restored and remodeled to suit a well-designed museum complete with a theater, a coffee shop, pathway, artifacts, and historical display area that will also house works of arts and items that symbolize heritage of the past.
A freedom space will also be reserved where the youth and artists could showcase their talents and skills in the arts.
This year marks the 70th founding anniversary of Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro which started in 1950 when Congress enacted a law that separated Mindoro into two separate provinces.