Local bizmen to gov't: Turn Leyte library into a convention center
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Leyte businessman are urging the national government to turn a Marcos-era library in this city into a convention center.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tacloban-Leyte has written Richard V. Daniel, officer-in-charge of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), to formalize its request to rehabilitate the People's Center and Library in this city.
The business group's president, Wilson Sia Uy, highlighted the potential of the structure, which has deteriorated because of lack of funds for maintenance costs.
"There are only few establishments in the city that can host gatherings as much as the center can hold. With enough investments to refurbish the building and provide appropriate facilities, the center can strongly compete in hosting many conferences, conventions, and many other events," Uy said.
The businessmen, as well as locals, view the center as an important landmark in the city, where it's also regarded as a tourist destination.
Faded cultural asset
Built in 1979, the two-story People Center and Library is located in Real St in Tacloban City.
The ground floor is a huge social hall that can hold about 2,000 people. It used to be the venue of social gatherings, concerts, and important events during the Marcos regime, when the first lady was Tacloban native Imelda Marcos.
The second floor is the public library with a wide collection of historical documents, dioramas of Philippine ethnic tribes, a compilation of books on humanities, award-winning novels, and many others.
The library is believed to have over 55,000 hardbound books of William Shakespeare, James Joyce, Leo Tolstoy, and Mark Twain, among many others. It even has the original copy of Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere.
When strongman Ferdinand Marcos was ousted in 1986, the property was sequestered by the PCGG.
The PCGG opened the center to other uses to generate funds for its maintenance. There were times when it became a shopping center, dance studio, Christmas bazaar, and a venue for graduations and proms of public high schools. It was also rented out to private groups for social gatherings.
The physical condition of the building further deteriorated when Super Typhoon Yolanda slammed through Leyte in 2013.
The center is currently rented by a businessman who sells surplus household items from Japan. – Rappler.com