Last week I wrote about the PLIGHT of the Plaza.
In today's PDN, we read that the Government has a PLAN for the Plaza. GovGuam is now taking bids on a project to rehabilitate this precious treasure of history, battered by war and the forces of nature.
An OpEd in the PDN rightly states that maintenance is key. Without good maintenance, the whole thing will be a waste of money.
The Philippines realized the importance of Intramuros, the old colonial, Spanish section of Manila. When that country celebrated the centennial of its first but short taste of independence in 1898, it began to pay more attention to Intramuros, the old Walled City. Precious little remains there, like our own Palåsyo, due to World War II bombardment. What does remain, like the church of San Agustin, is visited frequently by tourists and locals alike.
Here are some suggestions for the revitalization of the Plaza and Palåsyo site.
1. A Gallery. Perhaps the much-hoped-for Guam Museum cannot be housed at the Palåsyo, as it once was many years ago. But we could open a Gallery there, in the same small building where the museum was once housed. Rotate the theme and displays showcased at this Gallery. They don't all have to be items owned by the Guam Museum. Open it up to private art collections, or school art work and so on. This will bring people to the Plaza/Palåsyo. Keep it affordable (local/tourist/student rates, etc), but charge admission to generate income. The Gallery could double as a souvenir shop.
2. A Cafe or Restaurant. One thing that attracts people to Intramuros are the restaurants; certainly not a huge number of them, but a few of them that blend with the colonial theme of the Walled City. Even if you have to build a new structure, in the same architectural style, to house a Cafe or Restaurant, it will help bring people to the Plaza/Palåsyo. Bid it out and there's a source of revenue to help pay for the maintenance. Have the Cafe/Restaurant keep the colonial theme. Chocolate! Spanish/Chamorro foods. It could be Empanåda Heaven.
3. Costumed Guards. Intramuros does this. Great for tourists. Have guards represent the old Chamorro Compañia de Dotación (militia). But in reality, these are real guards keeping an eye out for vandalism.
4. Kalesa. We couldn't have horse-drawn carriages all over Hagåtna. But perhaps one to take tourists on a short stroll around the Plaza and Palåsyo complex.
Just a few ideas.
The Palåsyo in its clean, pre-war condition.