Doors stand in the way of World Heritage listing

The northern province of Batanes is just about ready to be nominated for World Heritage Site listing because of a continuous occupation lasting 2,400 years, but some of the stone door-less houses that make Batanes unique are also seen by the locals as markers of poverty.
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photo credit: click-the-shutter

New concrete Batanes houses ‘with doors’
Philippine Inquirer Lifestyle, 12 April 2010

Because the ancient door-less houses with low open windows that could also serve as entrance are considered ‘poor man’s house,’ locals are constructing ugly concrete houses with doors.

“They are door-less houses with low open windows that could also serve as entrance. He said that a ‘door-less house is a poor man’s house.’ Unless one gets ‘security of job,’ he cannot leave his poverty. That is why when an Ivatan leaves his family to work abroad, he will be determined to save so that when he comes home, he could construct a new house with a door.”

And that’s what is happening now in Savidug. Prosperous Ivatans have come home to construct a ‘new house with a door.’”

Ivan Henares writes: “For those who are not familiar with Batanes heritage, the villages of Savidug and Chavayan on Sabtang Island are the two most intact villages of vernacular Ivatan architecture, showcases of the Sinadumparan and Maytuab styles of houses.

“These new hollow-block houses being constructed will most definitely destroy the unique architectural fabric of Savidug.”


Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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