Culion Leprosy Archives designated as one of Asia-Pacific’s most important documentary collections

The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific (MOWCAP) inscribed the Culion Leprosy Archives to the MOWCAP Regional Register during its 8th General Meeting in Gwangju, Republic of Korea last 30 May 2018.

Housed at the Culion Museum and Archives in Culion, Palawan, the Culion Leprosy Archives boast of a wide collection of rare journals and reference materials on leprosy, as well as clinical records and letters of the island’s residents since 1906. The Archives also feature publications such as the International Journal of Leprosy and Other Mycobacterial Diseases, of which the first editor-in-chief was Dr. Windsor Wade.

The Culion Leprosy Archives garnered a majority vote from the 28-member MOWCAP after having been strongly recommended by the MOWCAP Register Sub-Committee for inscription. Dr. Arturo Cunanan, Chief, Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital (CSGH), spearheaded the nomination of the Archives with the support of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the facilitation of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines (UNACOM).

The Archives are the second documentary collection to be inscribed from the Philippines after the inscription of the Presidential Papers of Manuel L. Quezon in 2010. The Regional Register also includes Cambodia’s Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Archive, Australia’s Landmark Constitutional Documents of the Commonwealth of Australia, Fiji’s Polynesian Immigrants Records from 1876-1914, and Viet Nam’s Royal Literature on Hue Royal Architecture (1802-1945), among others.

In addition to being part of a prestigious list of documents and archives, inscription also allows documentary heritage workers and custodians to become part of an active community that advocates for the preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage. Inscription has also helped custodians and Member States promote, publicize and pool resources to maintain collections.

The Philippine Delegation to the 8th General Meeting of MOWCAP was composed of Prof. Nick Deocampo, Chairperson, Philippine National Committee for MOW; Dr. Rene Escalante, Chairperson, NHCP and Ms. Joana Rizza Bagano, Programme Officer, UNACOM. The Philippine National Committee for MOW envisions increased promotion of Philippine documentary heritage and more inscriptions to the National, Regional, and International MOW Registers.