HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 59 no. 1 (2013)

Fire and the Changing Cityscape of Dumaguete City

Earl Jude Paul L. Cleope

Discipline: History



This paper is a modest attempt to offer a framework for the study of an urban center, one that underscores the role of fire as a factor in the historical development of an area. It draws from the work of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel to suggest that contradiction and negation have a dynamic quality that at every point in each domain of history leads to further development until a rational unity is reached that preserves the contradictions as phases and sub-parts lifting them up (Aufhebung) to a higher unity. In this sense, the occurrence of fire in the historical development of the city has an impact in the evolving cityscape and growth of the city. Moreover, this is a modest contribution to the growing interest of historians in the built environment, specifically the growth and transformation of urban centers. Fire and the subsequent construction of buildings, then, can be used as a historical source, but only if the historian takes account of the particular texts and subtexts that they offer. In short, the occurrence of fires should not only be studied for its reasons, but for its meanings and effects. Hopefully, this paper will encourage other experts and local historians in other areas to view the occurrence of fires as perspective in studying urban history in the context of crafting policies in urban planning and developing an evolving historiography towards a national history of the Philippines.