ICOMOS Philippines reaffirms its commitment to advance heritage conservation and management in the country through its participation at the Inter-Agency Meeting of cultural organisations called by the National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) on February 28.
This year’s National Heritage Month theme is “Change and Continuity,” shared values that ICOMOS Philippines upholds in all its programs and activities that promote cultural heritage as a tool and driver of development.
According to the NCCA, the theme aims to highlight the potential of cultural heritage in enhancing social capital, economic growth, and environmental sustainability.
The celebration, which happens every May, also seeks to showcase the benefits, impacts, and growth opportunities produced by heritage science research and innovation; promote advocacies; and encourage participation in programs that safeguard intangible and urban cultural heritage.
In line with the celebration of National Arts Month in February, ICOMOS Philippines’ Treasurer Erik Akpedonu led the discussion on “Renegotiating Philippine Heritage,” an event organised by the University of Asia & the Pacific’s (UA&P) College of Arts and Science held on February 28.
The lecture met its objectives after helping the participants with the following:
Identify Philippine artistic heritage with emphasis on different categories of cultural properties and their aesthetic values
Examine the parameters of significance that explain why cultural properties are important Philippine artistic legacies
Analyse the role of the colonial experience in shaping how heritage is understood, collected, conserved, presented, and interpreted
Investigate social, historical, and cultural transformations and issues that affect Philippine artistic heritage
Determine how stakeholders in artistic heritage are participating in conservation and preservation efforts and why it is significant
Mr. Akpedonu also discussed the lack of architectural heritage appreciation evident in basic and higher education curricula, and the steps heritage advocates must take to raise awareness and understanding among students and youth.
Dozens of UA&P faculty members, staff, students, and guests outside the institution joined the on-site activity, with many expressing interest in joining future learning sessions focused on cultural heritage management and conservation.
ICOMOS Philippines, the only heritage professional organization included in the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Stakeholder’s Chamber, led the discussion on heritage conservation as a driver for genuine and sustainable societal transformation during the agency’s 1st Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Summit held on November 22 to 23, 2022.
Dr. Laya Boquiren-Gonzales presented ICOMOS Philippines’ PAMANA (Heritage) 2030 Project led by the organization’s SDG Working Group. With only 8 years left to achieve the SDGs by 2030, references to heritage in the global collective aspiration remain alarmingly scarce as evident in the insufficient discussions and practices by local and national government agencies related to heritage promotion and protection.
To bridge this gap, the Pamana (Heritage) 2030 Project of ICOMOS Philippines launched in 2021 aims to further accomplish the following in the near future:
Release a call for case profiles and will produce a policy guidance document with relevant stakeholders;
Gather key local government solutions in addressing societal concerns of inclusive social development, holistic economic development, environmental sustainability, peace and security, and key partnerships within their local realities; and
Provide timely baseline data and policy recommendations focused on the intersection of heritage and the SDGs in various parts of the country.
Meanwhile, Ar. Harvey Vasquez zoomed in on the importance of efficient pre-disaster recovery planning and concise post-disaster methodological actions in conserving heritage sites through the case of the World Heritage City of Vigan, impacted by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Northwestern Luzon in July this year.
ICOMOS Philippines joined the City Government of Vigan and the multi-sectoral Vigan Conservation Council in the rapid assessment of the damage, made possible by funding from UNESCO Jakarta.
Through the summit, ICOMOS Philippines hopes that more individuals will become aware of the importance of heritage conservation in the present and future, and become involved in this encompassing, holistic, and transformative movement.
To provide how management and conservation of heritage places can give a dynamic and mutually beneficial role in society today and long into the future, the People-Nature-Culture (PNC) World Heritage Leadership (WHLP), a capacity-building programme delivered by IUCN, ICCROM, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, and other organizations, with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment and other partners, is established to equip heritage site managers worldwide.
Among the fully-funded scholars is ICOMOS PH member Dr. Laya Boquiren Gonzales, who was invited to participate and present at the PNC Forum, which celebrated the conclusion of the 2017-2022 Korea-ICCROM Funds in Trust, the approaching completion of Phase I of the World Heritage Leadership Programme (WHLP) and the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention. The event was held from October 10 – 12, 2022 in Suwon, Republic of Korea (ROK)
Dr. Boquiren – Gonzales presented “How can we establish good governance arrangements that ensure they benefit from the conservation of those places?” on Day 2 under the theme of Who benefits from heritage.
Dr. Boquiren-Gonzales provided highlights on her presentation from the forum:
The conservation of the Santiago Apostol Parish in Betis, Guagua, Pampanga, a National Cultural Treasure, is an excellent case of community-based safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and application of the C’s of Governance, including the following:
collaboration of management actors;
concerted efforts of multiple stakeholders including local champions;
conservation anchored on a sense of collective devotion and pride and not only tourism as the sole motivation;
coordination among a consulting committee;
collaboration of local cooperatives for the safeguarding of ICH;
celebrations that dramatize the significance of traditions and honor collective memory;
contracting technical experts in the conservation of built heritage, a convergence of space of interests;
consensus and coalition-building;
cooperation strengthened by social relationships; and
collective pride rooted in one’s occupational identity and place affinity.
The claiming of public spaces (SDG 11.5 and SDG 11.7), originally intended for disaster mitigation, became an intergenerational significance collective skills formation anchored on place wisdom (the space is now an artisans’ haven and eco park).
Substantial impacts include the integration of woodcarving into the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system by local champions and acknowledgment of the need to integrate heritage into basic educational pedagogy. Heritage, including intangible properties, provide livelihood (SDG 8) entrepreneurial opportunities beyond mere employment (SDG 10), a sense of well-being and contentment, pride, social cohesion, and place affinity. It is life itself.
The conservation of built heritage and safeguarding of craft production unfold in relationships forged over time across levels of the locality. Decisions are arrived at through consensus. Concerted efforts are the product of coalition-building.
Ideally, cooperation is institutionalized or formalized under the coordinated efforts of national government agencies and provincial and municipal governments. When the local government and national government agencies enter the picture, the conservation of built heritage and safeguarding of the intangibles must be achieved through efficient planning and mobilization of resources, and reflected in Key Performance Indicators (KPIs); implemented in Programs, Projects, and Activities (PPAS); and audited using the right monitoring and evaluation tools.
Conservation efforts are best protected by legislation and enshrined in the constitution. However, the strength of implementing the terms of such arrangements and the rule of legislation are just as potent as the combined aspirations of communities. Therefore, community empowerment and collective action must persist above all.
Are we prepared to be teaching landscape heritage conservation? We have many cultural landscapes that need to be preserved, but few formally trained practitioners.
The Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development published the research on the Cultural Landscape Heritage Conservation (CLHC) specialization in the Philippines. The study by ICOMOS Philippines’ members Arch. Kenneth J. Tua together with fellow Cultural Landscape specialists LArch. Gabriel Caballero and LArch. Susan C. Aquino-Ong was in coordination with the current four universities offering landscape architecture in the country: the University of the Philippines – Diliman, University of San Carlos, Bulacan State University, and University of San Agustin. Relevant stakeholders were also consulted in the study, such as the Philippine Association of Landscape Architects (PALA), the Technical Committee for Landscape Architecture, Commission on Higher Education (TCLA-CHED), and the Professional Regulation Commission – Board of Landscape Architecture (PRC BOLA).
The peer-reviewed article reviews the preparedness of the Landscape Architecture curricula in the Philippines for the CLHC specialization and will serve as a starting point to engage discussions with the PRC BOLA in its development of the CLHC specialization currently being planned. The end goal is to develop a training program for landscape architecture students from the current four universities, and landscape architects and heritage professionals.
It utilizes the framework of Harvard professor emeritus Carl Steinitz’s ‘Geodesign’, in formulating a developmental process and validation of the interrelationship and collaborative activity of the identified thematic areas and courses in terms of IT, geographic sciences, design professions and the people of the place.
If a program is created, then the hope is that more technically proficient practitioners can create methodologies and policies to preserve and protect places of cultural and natural significance.
How to balance heritage with the demands of a modern city? In exploring ways to preserve the rich cultural character of Manila, the City Government of Manila invited stakeholders to present their opinions. Among organizations invited was ICOMOS Philippines, represented by Trustee Erik Akpedonu, co-author (with Fernando Zialcita) of “Endangered Splendor: Manila’s Architectural Heritage 1571-1960. “Manila’s Tourism Stakeholder’s Seminar/Workshop on Cultural Mapping and Inventory” was the Tourism Month celebration, the City Government of Manila’s Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila (DTCAM), held the last September 22, 2022, at Universidad De Manila. Mr. Akpedonu proposed a number of legislative measures to better protect built heritage in Manila:
To legislate (by city ordinance or executive order) that the Office of the Building Official, before issuing demolition, renovation, or redevelopment permits, not only cross-check the proposed development site against the list of officially NCCA/NHCP- or LGU-declared heritage structures (as is currently the case), but to also cross-check against a list of PRESUMED IMPORTANT CULTURAL PROPERTIES (buildings 50 years and older, works of National Artists, etc.) as defined by Republic Act 10066 (The Heritage Act) and as compiled by PRECUP and Manila`s own Tourism Office, before issuing such permits;
To make public by online posting the minutes of all official meetings discussing any variations to any existing zoning laws for specific individual constrictions projects (which to date does not seem to be the case); and
To exempt declared heritage structures and Presumed Important Cultural Properties from Property Tax under certain conditions.
The meeting was attended by representatives from Manila`s Tourism Office and Office of the Building Official, barangay chairpersons, various NGOs (e.g., Grupo Kalinangan, SAHTA, ICOMOS PH) and the academe (e.g., Dela Salle University, Mapua University).
Mr. Akpedonu is co-author (with Fernando Zialcita) of “Endangered Splendor: Manila’s Architectural Heritage 1571-1960 (Volume 1: The Center)”, a complete compendium of Spanish, American and early independence period structures. The book chronicles the story of Manila’s rise during the galleon trade from a small port to the nation’s capital and the evolution of its heritage architecture. It is also a commentary on the current state of our built heritage, with discussions of current restoration practices, revitalization, and proposed economic uses for its preservation and protection. Book Preview: Facebook Watch
International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Philippines is a member of the NEDA’s Stakeholders Chamber on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the 2022 Voluntary National Review (VNR).
The Voluntary National Review (VNR) is a process through which countries assess their efforts achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a view to accelerate their progress. Through peer-learning, case presentations of progress, the group surfaces gaps and good practices, so countries may gain a snapshot of their standing in SDG implementation and leverage partnerships in the group. By the VNR, partnerships are also mobilized National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) recently published the 2022 VNR of the Philippines encapsulating ICOMOS Philippines and other Stakeholders’ Chamber members’ technical inputs in the two (2) previous Quarterly meetings.
NEDA provided the main messages of the VNR summarizing the state of the country:
“No Filipino is poor; no one is hungry. Filipino families live together; there is work-life balance. Everyone feels secure over their entire lifetime.”
This is the AmBisyon Natin 2040 of the Philippines (AN 2040). A 2040 strategic vision that has guided the Philippine Development Plans (PDPs) on the country’s priorities in 6-year increments. The PDP 2017-2022 lays the foundation for inclusive growth, a high-trust and resilient society and a globally competitive knowledge economy. Realizing that the World We Want, as elaborated in the 2030 Agenda through the SDGs, aligns with the Life We Want, through AN 2040, the Philippines has mainstreamed the SDGs in the strategies of the PDP.
This is the Philippines’ third VNR. The first was a stock-taking of lessons learned from the implementation of the MDGs; the second reported on the progress in addressing these lessons. This year, we had hoped to report on more progress towards a whole-of-society implementation and further gains in SDG outcomes. COVID-19, unfortunately, reversed some gains and forced us to re-prioritize strategies. However, the inroads we have made on means of implementation remain. We are enhancing these institutional mechanisms to quickly recover and accelerate progress.
There are few Quarterly meetings left and ICOMOS Philippines’ membership to the Chamber is for FY 2022 – 2023 and is renewable.
International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Philippines’s representatives EnP. Chen Reyes – Mencias and Dr. Laya Boaquiren – Gonzales participated in the 2nd Quarterly Stakeholders’ Meeting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Philippines for the 2022 Voluntary National Review (VNR).
The Voluntary National Review (VNR) is a process through which countries monitor and assess their own efforts in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By getting stakeholders together, countries identify gaps and good practices, mobilize partnerships and peer learning to further their progress.
This set the foundation for the mapping of the Stakeholders’ Chamber existing policies, activities, and programs on sustainable development. The expected outcome is as follows:
Member Stakeholders to be united on the flow of the 2022 VNR draft and the discussion of the VNR on stakeholder engagement.
An initial mapping of member stakeholders using the Non-Government SDG-PAPs Mapping tool. This will harmonize the targeted constituencies of member stakeholders, their programs and activities; and
Agreement to submit all inputs by June 3 for the Non-Government SDG-PAPs Mapping tool.
EnP. Mencias and Dr. Boquiren – Gonzales represented ICOMOS Philippines during the 2nd Quarterly meeting held last June 01, 2022, Wednesday, at Astoria Plaza, 15 J. Escriva Dr, Ortigas Business District, Pasig City.
Dr. Laya Boaquiren – Gonzales (left) and EnP. Chen Reyes – Mencias (right) with some of the representatives from some the 40 chosen Stakeholders’ Chamber members.
Photo from Dr. Laya Boquiren – Gonzales
Photo from EnP. Chen Reyes – Mencias
Other present Stakeholders’ Chamber members were Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC), Ayala Corporation, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Jollibee Group Foundation, Makati Business Club, etc.
In November 2021, ICOMOS Philippines held the Pamanang Pasig Conference to highlight the importance of the Pasig River in light of the impending construction of the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX). Members of ICOMOS Philippines then gathered together to draft a statement of significance for the Pasig River.
International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Philippines’s representative Dr. Laya Boaquiren – Gonzales participated in the 1st day of the Consultation Workshop on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Philippines for the 2022 Voluntary National Review (VNR).
The Voluntary National Review (VNR) is a process through which countries assess and present progress made in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the pledge to leave no one behind. The purpose of VNRs is to present a snapshot of where the country stands in SDG implementation, with a view to help accelerate progress through experience sharing, peer-learning, identifying gaps and good practices, and mobilizing partnerships.
The 1st day of the Consultation Workshops captured how the Philippines responded to the demands and challenges of the pandemic in the areas of education, gender equality, and environmental sustainability particularly on the following aspects:
a. Resource Mobilization and Financing. Address financing gaps in SDG implementation, and integrate planning and budgeting to ensure that resources are optimized and allocated for SDG-related programs, activities, and policies;
b. Localization. Develop communications for more effective stakeholder engagement at the subnational level;
c. Monitoring. Enhance accountability mechanisms to ensure proper data monitoring and reporting of SDG progress; and
d. Stakeholder engagement. Development mechanisms to harmonize efforts from different actors on the SDGs
Through the abovementioned aspects, three (3) workshops were divided to tackle the following: Challenges, Best Practices, and Lessons learned / Ways forward / Recommendations.
Photo from National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
Photo from National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
Photo from National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
Photo from Dr. Laya Boquiren – Gonzales
Dr. Boquiren – Gonzales represented ICOMOS Philippines during the 1st day of the consultation workshops held last April 26, 2022, Tuesday, at Discovery Suites Ortigas, 25 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
Dr. Laya Boquiren – Gonzales provided highlights of the 1st workshop:
“I joined the breakout session for non-government actors, where we highlighted our organization’s programs and projects on heritage education and capacity building. ICOMOS Philippines provides heritage education, continuing professional development, and internships — all with access to a network of international, national, and local specialists in heritage. Partnerships with organizations for skills-based training in heritage conservation, documentation, and restoration work (for job generation and poverty reduction) were also mentioned. That ICOMOS has a seat in NCMS makes it strategically positioned to contribute to collective efforts in attaining the SDGs.”
“The non-government actors of civil society organizations (CSOs) recommended that NEDA produce an AI-enabled platform to map out the efforts and beneficiaries of the CSOs that will be critical in monitoring the SDGs and helping one another streamline efforts in education for nation-building. We were also asked to identify challenges in resource mobilization and financing. We also recommended that since the government is duty-bound as an enabler, it should dedicate human resources to gather and consolidate data and reach out to government actors so that the resource mobilization issues we have identified will be appropriately communicated.”
Other present Stakeholders’ Chamber members were Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA), Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc., First Philippine Holdings Corporation, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) etc.
To know more about NEDA’s initiative, kindly visit bit.ly/SDGChamber
For more information on ICOMOS Philippines and SDGWG ➡️ (https://tinyurl.com/2sj8k3sb)