A joint task force (JTF) will oversee the conservation of the famous Balay Negrense Museum, a heritage house and and important cultural property in Silay City, Negros Occidental, which was built in 1897.
On Friday, Provincial Tourism Division head Cheryl Decena and Balay Negrense Development Corp. representative Jose Maria Gaston have been named to comprise the JTF, along with Negros Occidental Historical Council Inc. board chairman Neil Solomon Locsin.
The body was created after the signing of the deed of usufruct on Thursday between the Balay Negrense Development Corp,. referred to as the owner, and the Negros Occidental provincial government, as the usufructuary.
The agreement, signed by Gaston and Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, allows the province to use the property for five years or until the completion of the conservation works, whichever comes first.
To date, the Balay Negrense Museum, which showcases the lifestyle of sugar barons during the 19th century, is “in a state of advanced disrepair”.
“It is therefore in need of conservation, including repair, preservation, restoration, reconstruction and adaptation to preserve its structure for the long term as a safe, modern museum and enhance its prominence,” both parties said in the agreement.
The JTF will oversee the conservation program, from preparation, approval and thorough implementation of the conservation plan that will be prepared by a conservation technical team (CTT) to be contracted by the province and composed of qualified and experienced experts led by a conservation architect.
Such is required by the National Historical Council of the Philippines (NHCP) and the Silay City Heritage District Administration (SCHDA) before any major conservation on an important cultural property.
It will also review and recommend the conservation plan for agreement and joint submission by both parties for the approval of the NHCP and the SHDA.
Meanwhile, the CTT shall report directly to the JTF, which is also tasked to inform the public regarding the status of the conservation program of Balay Negrense Museum and educate them regarding the importance and process of heritage conservation.
Originally known as the Victor Fernandez Gaston Ancestral House, the Balay Negrense, situated along the Cinco de Noviembre Street, was converted into a museum in 1990 and was declared as a heritage house by the then National Historical Institute in 1994.
In August this year, the Negros Cultural Foundation Inc., which has preserved and managed by the Balay Negrense Museum since 1990, turned over the maintenance and renovation of the house to the provincial government. (PNA)