‘Bahay-Kalakal’ undergoes rennovation

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The historic “Bahay Kalakal” (Ker and Co.) building in Iloilo City has been renovated by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III and NHCP Executive Director Ludovico Badoy unveiled the historical marker of Bahay Kalakal ng Ker & Company Ltd. last July 24.

Following its renovation, the building is now equipped with air-conditioners, CCTV cameras, and smoke detectors.

Aside from funding the restoration of the building, the NHCP also turned over the heritage structure to the city government.

“We’re looking to be the model in the country as a heritage zone. The whole commercial district is declared as a heritage zone and this area will be declared another heritage zone for the city of Iloilo,” Badoy said.

Badoy said they spent some P18 million on the restoration of the building, which used to be an old warehouse.

Espinosa and Badoy signed the agreement witnessed by Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, NHCP Architect Reynaldo Lita, and British Chamber of Commerce Philippines chairman Chris Nelson.

British trader Ker and Co. branched out to Iloilo City in 1862, which helped spark the growth of the sugarcane industry in Iloilo.

For his part, Nelson said the building was a representation of those times, and an indicator that the British had successful business relationships in Iloilo.

“I think we can continue that in the 21st century. British people should come to Iloilo and the Philippines because there are a lot of opportunities,” Nelson said.

Meanwhile, a historical marker was also unveiled, as a reminder that Ker and Co. pioneered the sugar cane business in Iloilo.

“Having a city, which cherishes and embraces historical past and yet is progressive, is a very unique quality,” Nelson said.