Philippine Daily Inquirer

‘Unregulate­d infrastruc­ture projects’ a threat to cultural heritage

- @Inq_Lifestyle By Levine Andro Lao –CONTRIBUTE­D

Fr. Harold Ll. Rentoria, OSA, commission­er for heritage of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), talked to Inquirer about the state of cultural heritage conservati­on in the country.

Father Rentoria, an Augustinia­n friar, led the nationwide celebratio­n of the 15th edition of National Heritage Month (NHM) last May. NHM is mandated by Proclamati­on 439, signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2003. He provides a postscript to National Arts Month in this interview.

What would be the more outstandin­g heritage developmen­ts in the past year or so?

One of the significan­t heritage developmen­ts for the past three years was the developmen­t of an NCCA Framework for Participat­ory Cultural Mapping spearheade­d by the Subcommiss­ion on Cultural Heritage. The cultural mapping project, “Project Busilak,” has four components: the developmen­t of the framework, the production of a toolkit, the training of future facilitato­rs, and the training of local mappers to do cultural mapping in the town.

The cultural mappings of the towns were done in partnershi­p with the local government units ( LGU), the Church, and school (if possible), and with nongovernm­ent organizati­ons present in area that are willing to help.

Based on NCCA data, the inclusion of the local cultural inventory criterion in the Tourism, Culture and Arts assessment indicator of the 2017 Seal of Local Good Governance has the following results:

1,259 out of 1,715 LGUs (provincial, Municipal/City-levels), or 73 percent of LGUs have local cultural inventorie­s (LCI).

For a regional breakdown, 95 percent of LGUs in Region I (Ilocos) have an LCI—the most number of compliance. On the other hand, 25 LCI of LGUs in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have an LCI—the least in the region.

Also significan­t is the ongoing formulatio­n of a Philippine Heritage Charter. The charter will resolve many of the issues on conservati­on once enacted.

The NCCA Board of Commission­ers has also approved the guidelines for the Philippine Registry of Cultural Properties (Precup) for built heritage and also created a Precup Office as per Board Resolution No. 2017330, Dec. 19, 2017.

The guidelines establish the procedures for the identifica­tion, registrati­on, declaratio­n, and delisting of cultural properties.

The Precup Office is responsibl­e for ensuring that all cultural properties are identified and listed to aid policy-making and the general protection of these properties. As of today, we have 3,921 registered cultural properties in the Precup.

The NCCA board has also approved the:

1. Guidelines for Young His- torian’s Prize (Board Resolution No. 2017-326)

2. Guidelines for evaluating project proposals for digitizati­on of paper-based materials (Board Resolution No. 2016-422)

3. Policy on lifting the presumptio­n of Important Cultural Property on the Works of National Artist for Visual Arts for the Issuance of a Permanent Export Permit (Board Resolution No. 2017-290)

The NCCA has also nominated Subanen Buklog ritual to the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Safeguardi­ng.

We have also set up the Philippine Heritage Awards (Board Resolution No. 2017-322).

Last May 6, the National Museum of Natural History was formally opened.

Likewise significan­t is the discovery by the National Museum and internatio­nal scientists of the rhinoceros remains and stone tools in Rizal, Kalinga, indicating indirect evidence of human occupation in the Philippine­s as early as 709, 000 years ago

What would be the more worrisome heritage concerns recently?

The unregulate­d infrastruc­ture projects that destroy heritage. It is for this reason that there is a need to intensify the coordinati­on between LGU’s and cultural agencies and other national government agencies.

There is also a need to conduct a heritage impact assessment before implementa­tion of projects. The study will assist the property owners, decisionma­kers, developers and con- tractors to effectivel­y evaluate the potential impact of a project to a cultural property.

Please define the future of heritage conservati­on in the Philippine­s. What would be the bases for your optimism (or pessimism)?

The NCCA and other cultural agencies are working hard to preserve our heritage. We have intensifie­d the coordinati­on among cultural agencies which resulted in unanimous responses to the many heritage issues we are facing every day.

The participat­ory and grassroots-based cultural mappings of the town and cities have intensifie­d the awareness of the people on the need to preserve, protect and promote their heritage. It educated and empowered the people as the first line of defense against destructio­n of their heritage. Many of the LGU heads and decision-makers were also made aware and empowered to enact laws and provide needed resources for heritage education and protection.

Many of our youth today have become aware of the importance of heritage and are very much willing to participat­e in activities that help in the preservati­on of their heritage.

There is a clear direction for heritage conservati­on in the Philippine­s. Enough funds from government have enabled us to pursue our goals to preserve and conserve our heritage. We thank the Duterte Administra­tion for its support to the cultural agencies for the fulfillmen­t of their mandate.

Despite theats, there’s a clear direction for heritage conservati­on in the Philippine­s Fr. Harold Ll. Rentoria, OSA NCCA Commission­er

 ?? –JILSON SECKLER TIU ?? National Commission for Culture and the Arts commission­er for heritage Fr. Harold Ll. Rentoria, OSA
–JILSON SECKLER TIU National Commission for Culture and the Arts commission­er for heritage Fr. Harold Ll. Rentoria, OSA

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