ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – Lanao del Norte lost a historical landmark – a century-old school building – in a fire that broke out in Lala town on Wednesday, August 31.
The fire destroyed at least P19.7 million worth of property, including the centennial building of the government-run Lala Proper Integrated School (LPIS), said Senior Fire Officer ll Jessie Cabigon, investigator of the Bureau of Fire Protection in the town.
Cabigon said the 101-year-old historical structure, mostly built of hardwood, was leveled to the ground by the more than four-hour fire.
Investigators said they have yet to establish the cause of the fire.
The historical Gabaldon Building, built in the 1920s, stood on 1,392 square meters of the one-hectare LPIS campus that has a student population of about 3,000.
Until the fire on Wednesday, the building withstood the test time and was a witness to World War II and other defining historical events in Lanao even before it was split into two provinces.
The wooden building was one of the oldest surviving structures in Lanao del Norte, and the oldest in Lala town.
Marilou Apat, the school’s principal, said the fire not only destroyed properties but an important and priceless historical landmark in Lanao del Norte.
“The Gabaldon Building served as the symbol of strength and life stories of the LPIS community for a century of standing bright,” read part of a statement released by the school.
Apat said they would move on and rebuild, and start by holding some of their face-to-face classes in tents.
Julie Ann Yongco, a 17-year-old 12th-grade LPIS student from Barangay Matampay Bucana, was teary-eyed as she looked at the debris.
“Gabaldon was very important to us,” she said.
Lala Vice Mayor Cesar Yap said officials and people from surrounding villages brought tents and chairs to help the school resume classes immediately.
He said local officials and residents were saddened by the loss.
“It was the first integrated school built in the municipality of Lala,” said Yap, adding that it was part of Lala town and Lanao del Norte’s heritage and culture. – Rappler.com