ICOMOS Philippines selected as the Implementing Partner of the first UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund Project for the Republic of the Philippines

On July and October 2022, Northern Luzon was struck by two strong earthquakes, with the epicenter in Abra province. One of the areas heavily affected was the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Historic City of Vigan, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1999. Despite immediate aid provided by local and national government agencies, the response could not address all the needs of the damaged areas due to limited funding and a lack of expertise for restoration. During this time, UNESCO Jakarta assigned ICOMOS Philippines to conduct a situational analysis and recommend priorities for repair. This project called “Post-Earthquake Damage Assessment of Vernacular Buildings in the World Heritage City of Vigan” was conducted from August to November 2022 led by Dr. Cheek S. Fadriquela.

Onsite survey for the post-earthquake damage assessment situational analysis. Ar. Nico Pilotin, LGU Vigan (left), Dr. Cheek Fadriquela, current ICOMOS Philippines President (left), Ar. Giunno Alonzo, Junior Local Counterpart, Ar. Anjelika Orui, Research Associate, Ms. Cornelia A. Parel, Ancestral Homeowner, Ms. Maria Cristina Paterno, past ICOMOS Philippines President (right).

Following that successful partnership, ICOMOS Philippines applied to the Call For Partnerships (CFP) by UNESCO Jakarta for the project called “Post-Earthquake technical standard enhancement on the conservation and protection of Heritage houses and structures in Vigan World Heritage Site (WHS), Philippines”; the first UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund (HEF) project to the Republic of the Philippines. ICOMOS Philippines was successfully selected and contracted as the official implementing partner of the said project on August 10, 2023 and September 14, 2023, respectively.  The objective of this project is to provide technical assistance to two representative privately-owned ancestral houses and to assess the recently applied methodologies and conservation techniques for damage assessment, shoring and repair and to recommend technical standards as part of the site’s long – term recovery.

Kick-off Meeting. Present from UNESCO Jakarta are Dr. Maki Katsuno-Hayashikawa, Director; Ms. Diana Setiawati, Project Coordinator; Mr. Rizky Fardhyan, Project Assistant; and Mr. Angga Conni Saputra, Project Assistant. From ICOMOS Philippines are Dr. Cheek S. Fadriquela, President; Ar. Kenneth Javier Tua, Vice President; Mr. Joselito Corpus, Communications Officer; and Mr. John Ray Ramos, Heritage Affairs Officer.

This project will allow the implementation of structural, architectural and materials assessments of the Syquia Mansion and Cabildo (Old) house by a pool of experts, including those from ICOMOS Philippines.

The findings of the two pilot site assessments will then be shared with the local government, the ancestral homeowners, and the Vigan Conservation Council through a series of lectures, training-workshops and town hall meetings. Additionally, ICOMOS will work with local stakeholders to update Vigan’s existing 2010 Heritage Homeowners Preservation Manual with an addendum.

Overall, the goal is to apply learnings from the assessment and structural study of two houses to upskill practitioners, craftsperson and homeowners on effective methods of repairs that are compatible with original building systems and materials. This project duration is from September 2023 – August 2024.

Onboarding session of the Key Expert Teams with the ICOMOS Philippines Project Management Team. Ar. Kenneth Javier Tua leads the project as the Country Project Director; Dr. Cheek S. Fadriquela as the Materials Conservation Expert; Ar. Michael F. Manalo with MNL Solutions, Inc. as the Architectural Conservation Expert team; Engr. Rodolfo P. Mendoza Jr. and Engr. Lessandro Estelito O. Garciano with Petro Jikken, Inc. as the Structural engineering Conservation Expert team; Dr. Eric B. Zerrudo and Ms. Bev Macayan Bautista as the Heritage Conservation (Training-Workshop) Expert Team; Ar. Fatima Nicetas Rabang-Alonzo and Ar. Giunno Alonzo as the Heritage Conservation (Local Manual Review) Expert Team; Dr. Laya Boquiren – Gonzales as the Heritage Interpretation-Curator Expert; and Atty. Lucille Karen Malilong-Isberto as the Legal Counsel-Expert (not in photo). 

This activity was supported by the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund. We wish to thank its donors: the Qatar Fund for Development, the Government of Canada, the Kingdom of Norway, the French Republic, the Principality of Monaco, the Republic of Estonia, ANA Holdings INC, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Slovak Republic, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Principality of Andorra, the Republic of Serbia.

Concerned stakeholders who are interested in providing in-kind contribution, you may contact Ar. Kenneth Javier Tua through kenneth.javier.tua@icomosphilippines.com and cc.: info@icomosphilippines.com. Let’s protect and promote our diverse cultural heritage together. For more information on ICOMOS Philippines ➡️ https://philippines.icomos.org/

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