The Manila Central Post Office (PhilPost) or the Post Office building was gutted by fire for nearly eight hours that started on Sunday, May 21.
The fire was first reported at around 11:41 p.m. in Lawton, Manila. The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) quickly raised it to a second alarm at 1:09 a.m. the next day.
The general alarm, the highest level, was placed hours later at around 5:44 a.m. At least 24 firetrucks reportedly responded to the massive blaze.
Several news outlets and the Manila Public Information Office also reported photos and videos of the fire engulfing one of the few remaining historical properties in Manila.
FIRE ALERT: Fire trucks are on scene as General Alarm is raised at the fire in Manila Central Post Office according to the Bureau of Fire Protection.
The fire was raisied to second alarm at 1:09AM.
(Video by AJ Acosta/MPIO) pic.twitter.com/tzUDg9gvSC
— Manila Public Information Office (@ManilaPIO) May 21, 2023
In a Facebook post, former Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso also expressed his sadness over the fire incident.
“Isang nakakapanglumo na umaga. Nasusunog ang isa sa mga heritage treasure ng Lungsod ng Maynila. Praying for everyone’s safety,” Domagoso said.
The fire was only declared under control at around 7 a.m., according to Manila Fire Department Fire Superintendent Christine Doctor-Cula.
Mark Laurente, chief of staff of the postmaster general, said that the fire started in the basement where paper materials and wood are stored.
The City of Manila, meanwhile, is in talks with Postmaster General Luis Carlos regarding the city government’s assistance to the heritage site following the tragic incident.
Some Filipinos took to social media to express their alarm over the possible destruction of important documents and packages at the Post Office building.
“The post office is one of the few beautiful heritage structures we have left, hoping it can still be salvaged and restored Not to mention all the important files and packages that are still in there,” a Twitter user said.
“This is sad…thousands of parcels and communications lost,” another Filipino tweeted.
The keyword “national ID” also reached the trending topics on Twitter Philippines.
Some Filipinos expressed their worries over their national IDs being caught in flames.
According to a report, Laurente assured the public that the national IDs are safe because they are stored in another place.
Several social media users also were saddened that a fire has nearly destroyed another historical landmark in Manila.
Some of them hoped that the government, both at the local and national level, will rehabilitate and restore the Post Office, considered an Important Cultural Property of the Philippines.
“Waking up to the news about Manila Central Post Office, the historical landmark, being consumed by flames is heartbreaking. The architectural beauty and the rich symbol of our history being ravaged by fire are just devastating. Hoping that our cultural property will restore soon,” a Twitter user said.
Fire authorities have yet to issue an update about the cause of the fire.
The Post Office building is known for its neoclassical style of architecture. It was designed by renowned architects Juan Arellano and Tomas Mapua as well as Ralph Doane.
It was completed in 1926 but was among the severely damaged structures during World War II.
In 1946, it was rebuilt with most of its original design retained.
To this day, the Post Office still serves as the headquarters of the Philippine Postal Corporation and the country’s main mail and distribution center.
In 2012, the management behind the luxury Fullerton Hotel in Singapore was reported to be in talks with the Philippine government to convert the important cultural structure into a first-class hotel.