Workshop on Moving Forward the Philippines’ World Heritage and Biosphere Reserve Nominations

    With the momentum set by the inscription of Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) as the country’s 6th property on the World Heritage List, PH NatCom undertook a review of the Philippines’ candidate properties/sites for possible inscription to the UNESCO World Heritage List, also referred to as the Tentative List. A Tentative List for the Philippines was first submitted in 1993 and a revised/updated list was submitted to the World Heritage Centre in 2005. Since then, none of the 28 properties appearing on the 2005 list has moved in terms of the systematic preparation and submission of nomination dossiers.  Hence, the Philippines has gained the reputation at the World Heritage Centre as having the longest Tentative List for World Heritage designation.

   For this workshop, PH NatCom invited site managers of the properties in the Tentative List. The workshop on moving forward the country’s world heritage and biosphere reserve nominations was held in Vigan City on 1-4 July 2014. It sought to revive the interest of those sites in the Tentative List to vie for a UNESCO World Heritage Site or a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation.

   The four-day workshop reintroduced the frameworks of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme. Director Jeremy Barns of National Museum (NM),  Atty. Rose Beatrix Angeles of National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and Ms. Teresita Blastique of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were also given time to introduce their respective agency’s role in the nomination process. Amb.  Cristina Ortega, former Permanent Delegate to UNESCO shared her experiences of serving in this capacity at UNESCO Headquarters. Mayor Eva Medina also presented the management structure of the Historic Town of Vigan. Mr. John Pontillas and Mr. Alex Marcaida of Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, on the other hand, described UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme and the experience of Palawan as a Biosphere Reserve. Assoc. Prof. Josephine Cruz of Central Bicol State University for Agriculture shared their university’s experience in nominating Camarines Sur as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

    As an output, the site manager-participants of the workshop were asked to draft statements of integrity and authenticity for their site/property and choose which criterion/criteria in the World Heritage standards best capture the uniqueness and outstanding value of their sites. Their draft statements were presented and critiqued by a panel of experts Commissioners (Prof. Eric Zerrudo, Archt. Michael Manalo, Dr. Domingo Madulid, Mr. Jose Maria Lorenzo Tan and Amb. Cristina Ortega) for further improvement and refinement.

The workshop was attended by representatives of candidate sites:

  • Apo Reef Natural Park: Fe M. Raguindin (DENR);
  • Baroque Churches of the (Philippines) – Lazi, Siquijor: Jossette A. Armirola (Provincial Government of Siquijor), Verna M. Alih, and Lydio M. Ligutom (Siquijor Heritage foundation, Inc.);
  • Butuan Archaeological Site, Paleolithic Archaeological Sites in Cagayan Valley, Petroglyphs and Petrographs of the Philippines, and The Tabon Cave Complex and all of Lipuun: Ana Maria Theresa Labrador, Raquel Flores, Fred Orogo, and Erika Robis (National Museum of the Philippines);
  • Chocolate Hills Natural Monument: Rizalino S. Canda (Municipal Government of Batuan, Bohol), Aileen Jan D. Loyota and Felita Naomi U. Molino (Municipal Government of Carmen, Bohol) Marcial B. Ugay (DENR);
  • Mount Isarog Natural Park: Yolda T. Abante (DENR), Luzena N. Bermeo, Edlynne Kaith P. Ravago and Crisostomo S. Rivero (Provincial Government of Camarines Sur), Josephine Cruz and Ma. Teresa B. Lirag (Central Bicol State University of Agrilculture);
  • Mount Malindang Range Natural Park: Dennis C. Leopoldo (Provincial Government of Misamis Occidental), Bobby B. Alaman (DENR);
  • Mount Mantalingahan Natural Landscape: Jeanne G. Tabangay (Conservation International Philippines)
  • Mayon Volcano Natural Park and Cagsawa Ruins: Edel Matusalem (DENR)
  • Mount Pulag National Park: Daniel M. Agpalo and Romulo M. Camat (Provincial Government of Nueva Vizcaya), Melecio Lester D. Albon, Faustino M. Aquisan, Salvador P. Aroco, Mike E. Badival, Eugene M. Daoal, Francisco A. Discong, Lawrence Kelcho Ghislyn L. Marave, Berry K. Sangaom, Jenny Reem A. Tamiray and Gideon P. Todiano (Municipal Government of Kabayan, Benguet);
  • Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park: Orlando B. Tizon (Provincial Government of Oriental Mindoro), Rodel M. Boyles (DENR)
  • Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park and outlying areas of inclusive of the buffer zone: Eufemia J. Daliong (DENR)
  • Palawan Natural Sites: El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area, Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape and Coron Island Natural Biotic Area: Rhodoea B. Ubani (DENR)
  • Petroglyphs and Petrographs of the Philippines: Francis B. Dega (Provincial Government of Mountain Province), Caren R. Guinayen (Municipal Government of Bontoc, Mountain Province)
  • Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary: Minda J. Bairulla (DENR)    

    Also present at the workshop were the site managers of the Philippines’ six inscribed WH List—1) Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, 2) Baroque Churches of the Philippines, 3) Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, 4) Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, 5) Historic Town of Vigan, and 6) Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary—to inspire and support the site managers of those still in the Tentative List.

Workshop participants at the Convention Center of Vigan City, an award-winning World Heritage Site

Participants from Lazi, Siquijor working on their presentation

PH NatCom's Culture Committee Chair, Arch. Michael Manalo, gives the opening remarks.

Workshop Participants pose in front of the World Heritage Site, Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte.