The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) officially turned-over the ownership of heritage Ker and Co. Ltd. Building to Iloilo City Government July 24.
NHCP Executive Director Ludovico D. Badoy and Mayor Jose Espinosa III signed the Certificate of Transfer and Acceptance of the Historical Marker and Completed Restoration Project for Bahay Kalakal ng Ker and Co. Ltd.
Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, Architect Reynaldo Lita, and British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP) Chairman Chris Nelson stood as witnesses.
“Thank you so much for this gift to the people of Iloilo City. We promise that we will take care of this property and we will use this to let future Ilonggos savor how magnificent was it to be an Ilonggo at the turn of the century, and to have a heritage building like this in our community,” Espinosa said.
The Ker and Co. Ltd. structure was an instrument of the progressive economy of the metropolis through strong trading during that time, he added.
Badoy also shared that Ker and Co. Ltd. was one of the foreign companies which established their office in Iloilo and opened business and trade here.
“One of the employees of Ker and Co. Ltd. was Nicholas Loney and he was the one who helped the farmers by bringing cheap and quality technology to help the farmers fast track the processing of sugarcane,” Badoy said.
Loney was the first British vice consul to Iloilo. The adjacent wharf Muelle was named after him.
Badoy noted one of the objectives of NHCP is to help and teach the local government units (LGUs) and institutions in the country to preserve historic buildings.
NHCP rehabilitated the bricks, floor, ceilings, and roof of Ker and Co. Ltd. building.
Meanwhile, Nelson said he was happy to be back and witness the turn-over ceremony. They were here for a trade mission last March.
“I think this historical building is an indication that the British were here before and had a very successful business relationship, and I think we can continue that in the 21st century. The historical marker is also a good indicator for the future,” Nelson said.
“I think British people should come to Iloilo and invest because there are a lot of opportunities here,” he added. (Merianne Grace Ereñeta/Iloilo City PIO)