PRINCIPLE 2:  Understanding the scope and significance of the Heritage Zone is vital

It is vital that the local government as well as the people of San Pablo understand the significance of the historic zone to the continued development of their city. If this distinctive identity is perceived and understood by people, this will only benefit the sustainable management of the historic zone. It is important to note however that the significance of a place in terms of values tends to grow in strength and complexity over time, as the locals’ understanding and perceptions continually evolve.

2.1 The Role of Significance in Managing the Heritage Zone

The statement of significance should guide all planning and implementation of work for the conservation, interpretation, and management of the heritage zone.

The assessment of significance should guide the conservation of significant areas, elements, and fabric as well as key visual and functional relationships. In this context, “conservation” includes all the activities ascribed to it in the Burra Charter, including preservation, maintenance, restoration, reconstruction, and adaptation.

Written statements of cultural significance and policy for the place should be prepared, justified and accompanied by supporting evidence. The statements of significance and policy should be incorporated into a management plan for the place.” (2013 Burra Charter, Art. 26.2)

In particular, the following structures and spaces of significance are highlighted in the SPHZ:

  • Type 1 Identified Existing Heritage Structures which include:
    • Old Municipal Hall
    • Fule Malvar Mansion
    • Old Casa Real (now Library Hub)
    • Cathedral Church of St. Paul the First Hermit
  • Traces of American Colonial City Beautiful Planning, which include:
    • Plazas;
    • Rizal monument;
    • Twenty five (25) lamp posts;
    • Open spaces;
    • The median strips from the church to the welcome arch
  • Views toward the Makiling Forest Reserve; and
  • Views toward the Cathedral Church of St. Paul the First Hermit

2.2. The Scope of the Heritage Zone

The scope of the core and buffer zones are further discussed in sections 3.2 and 3.3 of this document. It is recommended that the local government formalize the delineation of these zones with proper mapping, so that Stakeholders may be properly informed.

 The SPHZ core zone shall be composed of:

  • The length of Rizal Avenue, including the whole block on which the church stands, up until the welcome arch at Holy Rosary St.;
  • The core zone will also affect the properties on either side of Rizal Avenue along the identified areas;
  • The protected area of the core zone will be from the edge of the street thirty meters inwards the lot

The SPHZ buffer zone shall be composed of:

  • The same length of Rizal Avenue indicated in the core zone, but the buffer zone shall encompass the whole of the first blocks on either side of Rizal Avenue

 2.3 Significance Guides Conservation Actions

The elements and attributes of the San Pablo Heritage Zone, which contribute to its most significant historic, aesthetic, social values, should be appropriately conserved, interpreted, and managed as part of its future use.

Priority is to be given to sites within the San Pablo Heritage Zone which exhibit the highest level of significance (Type 1). The location of the plaza and the layout of streets and open spaces complete these elements of outstanding cultural significance.

2.4 The Purpose of the Heritage Zone

The San Pablo Heritage Zone functions as a tangible constructive space for the intangible expressions and traditions of the people 

Further, the Zone comprises a sizable portion of the city’s commercial center. Its location also renders it a viable tourist destination, given the proximity to the Church, the plaza, and the Library Hub. The area is a natural gathering spot for the community and has potential to develop into a highly urbanized center. Traditionally, the zone is the site of the city’s Coco Festival and the popular Holy Week procession of the Catholic church. All major city events such as street dancing, beer plazas and heritage tours happen in the downtown Heritage Zone. That is why care should be taken to regulate the heights along the Heritage Zone, so that new developments will not overshadow the historic core of the community.

2.5 Maintaining Legibility and Vistas

The legibility of the layout along the main road and plaza, as well as the views contained therein contribute to the character of the Historic Zone and should be conserved.

The views on Rizal Avenue from the church toward the Makiling Forest Reserve is a particularly compelling view that should be preserved. The City of San Pablo was laid out in accordance with perceived tenets of the City Beautiful Movement, and as such, significant views as well as open spaces should be conserved.

Building heights

In order to maintain the legibility of vistas, as well as the scale of structures, it is recommended that building heights in the core and buffer zone be regulated. For the core zone, the maximum allowable height of structures should not exceed fifteen meters (15 m). For the buffer zone, the maximum allowable height of structures should not exceed twenty meters (20 m).


The local government will ensure that utility lines along the core zone will not detract from the significance. As much as possible, they should be kept to a minimum, and should be as orderly and as inconspicuous as possible.

 2.6 The Significance of Land Use

It is important to note that land use and functions also dictate the character of the zone. Thus, there is a need to regulate the uses within the Heritage Zone.

In particular, Rizal Avenue and the plaza are of vital importance to the cohesion of the Heritage Zone and its legibility must be maintained. Currently, the uses within the Heritage Zone are composed of religious, government, residential, and commercial buildings.

Thus, the following are the compatible uses in the core zone:

  • Commercial
    • Restaurants / Cafes
    • Souvenir Shops
    • Banks
    • Retail
  • Residential
    • Private residences
    • Hotels / Inns
    • Bed and Breakfast
  • Institutional
    • Schools
    • Religious
    • Churches / Worship Halls
  • Cultural
    • Museums / Galleries

The following uses are not allowed within the core zone:

  • Commercial
    • Karaoke bars
    • Pubs
    • Motels
  • Institutional
    • Hospitals
    • Clinics
  • Other
    • Funeral Parlor
    • Waste recycling center
    • Junk Shop
    • Garbage dumps
    • Warehouses


2.7 Parcellation of the Lots

The size of the lots affect the form, massing, and scale of the developments. Thus it is recommended that the size of the lots be kept.

The size of the lots would affect the size of new developments. Larger developments have the tendency to overpower the original scale of the historic zone, which tends to be only 2-3 storeys high. It is proposed that the municipal government be aware of how larger lot sizes can affect the scale and massing of future developments.

Should developers choose to combine adjacent lots, the form, massing, and scale that reflect the smaller lot sizes should be maintained.

 2.8. Community Involvement

Community involvement is crucial to assuring the continued sustainability of the Heritage Zone.

As much as possible, the local government should ensure that the diverse community groups understand the purpose and significance of the Heritage Zone. The community’s awareness and understanding of the significance of the Heritage Zone will support the continuous development and sustainability of the area.