There’s an argument to be made about giving historical landmarks a modern touch, but the reason these sites have stood for so long should always stand out more than anything.
Case in point, Vigan City’s popular cobblestone street, Calle Crisologo. A literal walk down memory lane, the famed lane boasts rows of majestic residences whose architectural styles hark back to the Spanish colonial era.
In photos taken by one Ivy Charmaine Sebestian and shared by a Facebook page promoting tourist destinations in Vigan City, the 16th-century site has now swapped its earthy vintage glow with that emanating from multi-colored street lights:
Another Facebook page of the same nature uploaded a video featuring how the tinted well lights slowly change from one color of the rainbow to another in sync with the melody ringing out of a sound system. Netizens were quick to notice that the same had been done to another attraction in Vigan, Plaza Salcedo’s dancing fountain.
According to Nolisoli.ph, the Calle Crisologo’s revamped look owes itself to Vigan City’s “streetscape development” project which cost P14,566, 896.37. Per a photo uploaded by Gillian Azurin, the project is meant to “improve the streetlights along the heritage district.”
Despite the steep budget for beautifying the landmark, for netizens, the new look isn’t quite catching on. Some of the comments under the post expressed their dismay over preferring to change rather than preserve the timeless charm of the era in which Calle Crisologo was built.
On the other hand, some have also noted that these protruding lights could are vulnerable to vandalism, and even pose a safety threat to pedestrians as visitors might trip over them. These same netizens suggested that instead of mounted lights, the proponents could have chosen to install ground-embedded paver lights to avoid accidents.
They further argued that such relevant modifications should have been made in compliance with standard guidelines on heritage conservation. Luckily, Vigan City has implemented such guidelines since as early as 1997. Ironically, it failed to follow the same for this specific project.
According to Section 3 of Vigan’s Ordinance No. 14, series of 1997, or the “Ordinance Providing the Guidelines in the Conservation of the Historic Town of Vigan,” “restoration should reveal anew culturally significant aspects of the historical building, landmark, monument, shrine, street, or plaza.”
When Vigan’s local government amended it in 2006, they particularly added a text under Section 12 (“Guidelines for Electrical and Mechanical Systems”) that describe how such renovations should be executed.
According to the said section, the “use of historically appropriate lights is recommended” when installing lighting fixtures. It also cites that renovations must use wrought-iron or cast-iron lamp posts, street lights, wall bracket lamps, gate post lamps, and farol lamps.
Also, under Section 18 (“Guidelines for Streetscapes”) of the same expanded ordinance, it reads that when “protecting and maintaining streetscape,” renovations shall “conform to or harmonize the designs of street and building signs, exterior and street lighting, […] with the historic character of the conservation area.”
When Vigan City was recognized as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999, the organization gave its seal of approval on grounds of the historic city being able to “maintain its authenticity” and to conserve the significance and “the salient features of ancestral Vigan houses.”
While the city’s local government itself as well as relevant historical commissions are yet to make a comment, perhaps the weight of opinions made by the people – the future visitors to which the project presumably caters – should be enough.