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List of World Heritage Sites in the Philippines

The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has designated six World Heritage Sites in the Philippines. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.

The Philippines, following its ratification of the convention on Thursday, September 19, 1985, made its historical and natural sites eligible for inclusion on the list. The Philippines had its first sites included in 1993, and since 2014, has six sites on the list spanning nine locations. Of those six sites, three are cultural and three natural. The first 5 sites inscribed in the UNESCO Heritage List was initiated by ICOMOS Philippines, an non-profit heritage organization, which partnered with the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines and the Heritage Conservation Society.

The Philippines has a cultural inventory, called the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property or PRECUP, and a natural inventory called the National Integrated Protected Areas System or NIPAS. Both of which were established by various Philippine laws. The intangible cultural heritage list of the Philippines is under the PRECUP.

In 2015, the 28 sites in the 'Tentative List' were revised. Currently, the Tentative List for possible nomination in the future contains nineteen submissions.

In November 2017, the Philippines was elected as a member of the Executive Board of UNESCO.[1] In March 2018, the Philippines was elected as Vice President of the Preparatory Group of the Executive Board.[2]

The Philippines is in preparation to make a hosting proposal for a UNESCO Executive Board General Meeting within 2019 to 2021, where its term will end. The Philippines is also in preparation for its candidature as UNESCO Director-General by 2021 or 2025. Heritage conservationists have cited Senator Loren Legarda as the best candidate of the Philippines. The possible candidature is supported by the Southeast Asian bloc and the Latin American bloc, with some degree of support from the United States, Russia, Japan and China.

Contents

World Heritage SitesEdit

In the 1990s, Filipino architect Augusto Villalón represented the Philippines in the UNESCO Committee and drafted the nomination dossiers of 5 heritage inscriptions. All the five inscriptions, which were the first five UNESCO sites in the Philippines, were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites from 1993 to 1999. These sites include the Baroque Churches of the Philippines (Miag-ao in Iloilo; Paoay in Ilocos Norte; Santa Maria in Ilocos Sur, and San Agustin in Manila); Tubbataha Reef National Park, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Historic City of Vigan, and the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras[3] After Villalón retired, the country had a 14-year drought in UNESCO World Heritage designations, which would be broken only in 2014, when Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site.[4]

The table lists information about each World Heritage Site:

Name: as listed by the World Heritage Committee
Location: city or province of site
Region: one of the 17 regions of the Philippines
UNESCO data: the year the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List; the criteria it was listed under: criteria i through vi are cultural, while vii through x are natural; (the column sorts by year added to the list)
Period: time of construction
Description: brief description of the site
Ref: references
Name Image Location Regions UNESCO data Period Description Ref
Baroque Churches of the Philippines: San Agustin Church, Santa Maria Church, Paoay Church, and Miagao Church      City of Manila; Ilocos Sur; Ilocos Norte; Iloilo Manila; Ilocandia; Western Visayas 1993 (inscription), 2013 (minor boundary modification); ii,iv 16th century All of the four baroque churches have been declared as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines. [5]
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park   Palawan Mimaropa 1993 (inscription), 2009 (extension); vii, ix, x Pleistocene Epoch The site is one of the New7Wonders of Nature, an ASEAN Heritage Park, and a Ramsar Wetland Site. It is also located within the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. [6]
Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras: Batad, Bangaan, Mayoyao, Hungduan, and Nagacadan   Ifugao Cordillera 1995 (inscription); iii, iv, v 100 BC The inscription includes 5 properties, namely, Batad Rice Terraces, Bangaan Rice Terraces (both in Banaue), Mayoyao Rice Terraces (in Mayoyao), Hungduan Rice Terraces (in Hungduan) and Nagacadan Rice Terraces (in Kiangan). The terraces have been declared as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines. [7]
Historic City of Vigan   Ilocos Sur Ilocandia 1999 (inscription); ii, iv 16th century The site is also one of the New7Wonders Cities. The Mestizo Section, House of Father Jose Burgos and Leona Florentino of Vigan has been declared as one of the National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines. [8]
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park   Palawan Mimaropa 1999 (inscription); vii,x Pleistocene Epoch The site is part of the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a declared Ramsar Wetland Site. [9]
Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary   Davao Oriental Davao 2014 (inscription); x Pleistocene Epoch The site is a declared ASEAN Heritage Park. [10]

Sites by Philippine regionsEdit

Exclusive UNESCO World Heritage Sites refer to sites locating in a single community/region. Shared sites refer to sites with entries in multiple communities/regions, such the Baroque Churches of the Philippines, which is distributed in 3 regions.

Community Exclusive sites Shared sites
Ilocandia 1 1
Cordillera 1
Cagayan Valley
Central Luzon
Manila 1
Calabarzon
Mimaropa 2
Bicolandia
Western Visayas 1
Central Visayas
Eastern Visayas
Zamboanga
Northern Mindanao
Caraga
Davao 1
Soccsksargen
Bangsamoro

Need for a Department of CultureEdit

 
Facade of the current office of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

There have been proposals to establish a policy where each municipality and city will have an ordinance mandating all constructions within each territory to be inclined with the municipality or city's architecture and landscaping styles to preserve and conserve the country's dying heritage sites which have been demolished one at a time in a fast pace due to urbanization and culturally-unresponsible development. Such policies are used by countries which have preserved their architectural marvels for hundreds of years, such as Italy, France, Romania, Germany, and Spain. The proposal advocates both indigenous, colonial, and modern architectural and landscaping styles that are prevalent or used to be prevalent in a given city or municipality. The proposal, however, has yet to be manifested into an actual policy due to the lack of a Department of Culture. Only the city of Vigan has passed such an ordinance, which led to its declaration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and awarding of various recognition for the conservation and preservation of its unique architectural and landscaping styles. In 2016, senator Loren Legarda filed a bill establishing the Department of Culture. The bill was introduced in the Senate in January 2017 and is expected to be passed into law in late 2018 or early 2019. The bill is backed by 9 other senators from different political parties, namely, Bam Aquino, Nancy Binay, Francis Escudero, Juan Zubiri, Joseph Ejercito, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Risa Hontiveros, and Sonny Angara. Three counterpart bills that aim to establish a Department of Culture has also been filed in the House of Representatives, authored by Christopher de Venecia, Evilina Escudero, and Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado. The establishment of a Department of Culture aims to nurture Philippine culture and arts, including the heritage sites of the country, making it easier to nominate properties in the many lists of UNESCO. Filipino conservationists have proposed to add a provision where the Department of Culture shall have a special division or committee that shall focus on the (1) preparation of dossiers and (2) nomination of Filipino elements in the many lists and registers of UNESCO, such as the World Heritage List, UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, Creative Cities Network, and Memory of the World Register, among many others. A provision to establish a committee between the Department of Culture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have also been proposed, where the converged committee may discuss dossiers and nominations of sites with both natural and cultural value, notably for the World Heritage List, Creative Cities Network, Biosphere Reserve, and Global Geoparks Network.[11][12]

Tentative listEdit

The following 19 sites are on the Tentative List for the Philippines, meaning that the government intends to consider them for nomination in the future:[13]

Type (criteria) Site Location Period Description Image Ref
Natural: (vii)(ix)(x) Apo Reef Natural Park Sulu Sea Pleistocene Epoch The site is the second biggest producer of juvenile marine fishes in the world, next only to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.   [14]
Cultural: (i)(iii)(iv)(v)(vi) Baroque Churches of the Philippines (Extension)
Various Locations 18th to 19th centuries All five baroque churches have been declared as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines.           [15]
Mixed Batanes Protected landscapes and seascapes Batanes Pleistocene Epoch and 100 AD The Mahatao Church of Batanes is a declared National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines.   [16]
Cultural: (iii)(iv)(v) Butuan Archeological Sites Agusan del Norte 10th century The site exemplified and concretized the capability of the pre-Hispanic Rajahnate of Butuan as a nation with great expertise in boat-making, seafaring, and gold manufacturing.   [17]
Natural: (vii)(viii) Chocolate Hills Natural Monument Bohol Pleistocene Epoch The site is the focal property of the proposed Bohol Global Geopark Reserve.   [18]
Mixed: (iii)(ix)(x) Coron Island Natural Biotic Area Palawan Pleistocene Epoch The site is within the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.   [19]
Natural: (ix)(x) El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area Palawan Pleistocene Epoch The site is within the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.   [20]
Cultural: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(v)(vi) Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves Benguet 100 AD The site has been listed by the World Monuments Fund for immediate international conservation. It is a declared National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines.   [21]
Natural: (vii)(x) Mayon Volcano Natural Park (MMVNP) Albay Pleistocene Epoch The site is the central property of the Albay UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.   [22]
Natural: (ix)(x) Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park Mindoro Pleistocene Epoch The site is a declared ASEAN Heritage Park.   [23]
Natural: (vii)(ix)(x) Mount Malindang Range Natural Park Misamis Occidental Pleistocene Epoch The site is a declared ASEAN Heritage Park.   [24]
Natural: (ix)(x) Mount Mantalingajan Protected Landscape Palawan Pleistocene Epoch The site is part of the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.   [25]
Natural: (ix)(x) Mount Pulag National Park Ifugao, Nueva Viscaya, and Benguet Pleistocene Epoch The site is the third highest point in the Philippines.   [26]
Cultural: (ii)(iii)(iv)(v) Neolithic Shell Midden Sites in Lal-lo and Gattaran Municipalities Cagayan Neolithic Period The site is the largest shell midden zone in the Philippine archipelago.   [27]
Natural: (ix)(x) Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park and outlying areas inclusive of the buffer zone Isabela Pleistocene Epoch The site is the largest national park in the Philippines.   [28]
Cultural: (ii)(iii)(iv)(v) Paleolithic Archaeological Sites in Cagayan Valley
Cagayan Valley Paleolithic Period The site includes the location where the bone fragments of Callao Man, the oldest hominid found in the Philippines was located.   [29]
Cultural: (iii) Petroglyphs and Petrographs of the Philippines
Multiple locations Paleolithic Period The sites in Singnapan, Alab, and Angono have been declared as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines. The site in Angono has been listed by World Monuments Fund.   [30]
Cultural: (ii)(iii)(iv)(v) The Tabon Cave Complex and all of Lipuun Palawan Paleolithic Period The site is a declared National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines due to the Tabon Man discovery in the area. It was listed by the World Monuments Fund.   [31]
Natural: (ix)(x) Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary Tawi-Tawi Pleistocene Epoch The site is a major green sea turtle breeding and hatchery zone in the Asia-Pacific.   [32]

Tentative sites by Philippine regionsEdit

Exclusive UNESCO tentative sites are sites locating in a single community/region. Shared sites have entries in multiple communities/regions, such the Baroque Churches of the Philippines (Extension), which is distributed in three regions, and Petroglyphs and Petrographs of the Philippines, which is distributed in five regions.

Central Luzon, Zamboanga, and Soccsksargen are the only regions in the Philippines without a UNESCO World Heritage site or a tentative site under the Philippines' tentative list to UNESCO. Any institution, with the aid of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, National Museum of the Philippines, Philippine National Commission for UNESCO, or the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, can file a comprehensive nomination of a site for the tentative list in UNESCO. Once a site is at the tentative list, it can finally be selected by UNESCO to undergo a process which would lead to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage AwardsEdit

The UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards, established in 2000, are given as the strategic purpose of UNESCO within the Asia Pacific region. The objective is to motivate the protection of Cultural Heritage sites, which are initiated by any individual organization under private sector or institutional organization.[33] The Philippines, an Asia Pacific nation, is eligible to nominate its cultural heritage sites for the awards. The call for nominations for the awards usually begins in December. Currently, the latest call for nominations was in December 2018, where the deadline is set at March 31, 2019.[34]

The Philippines currently has 3 sites under the Honourable Mention category in the prestigious accolade. These sites are the Nelson Tower (2001),[35] Gota de Leche Building (2003),[36] Far Eastern University (2005).[37] The country has yet to earn any site under the Award of Excellence, Award of Distinction, Award of Merit, and New Design in Heritage Contexts categories.[38]

Category Inscribed Sites Total
Award of Excellence - 0
Award of Distinction - 0
Award of Merit - 0
Honourable Mention Nelson Tower (2001),[39] Gota de Leche Building (2003),[40] and Far Eastern University (2005)[41] 3
New Design in Heritage Contexts - 0

Some cultural organizations have cited the First United Building, the Eusebio Villanueva Building, the San Sebastian Church, and the Rizal Park Hotel as possible nominations.[42]

UNESCO-related activities of the PhilippinesEdit

Early activities (1977-2000)Edit

In 1977, the Puerto Galera Biosphere Reserve was inscribed in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. During that time, countries who have yet to ratify the UNESCO Convention were allowed to nominate sites in the biosphere reserve network. However, UNESCO participation of the Philippines was extremely limited due to the dictatorship at the time.[43]

 
The Palawan Biosphere Reserve was inscribed in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 1990.

The Philippines ratified the UNESCO Convention on 19 September 1985, effectively becoming a member of the organization on the same date. However, activities concerning UNESCO nominations were only made after the successful People Power Revolution of 1986, which restored democracy in the Southeast Asian nation. UNESCO activities and preparations came afterwards, notably through staunch heritage conservationist and architect, Augusto Villalón, who UNESCO hails as "one of Asia’s most renowned experts in heritage conservation" and "the father of heritage conservation in the Philippines".[44][45] In 1990, the Palawan Biosphere Reserve was inscribed in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.[46]

From 1993 to 1999, five UNESCO sites, spanning nine locations, were inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List through the initiative of the Philippine government and Villalón's Heritage Conservation Society. These sites included the Baroque Churches of the Philippines (1993), Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (1993), Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (1995), Historic City of Vigan (1999), and the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park (1999). In 1994, the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary was declared as a Ramsar wetland site under the Ramsar Convention of UNESCO.[47] In 1995, the Philippines hosted UNESCO's "Regional Thematic Study Meeting on Asian Rice Culture and its Terraced Landscape" in the capital, Manila.[48] In 1997, the Philippines participated in the "Asia-Pacific World Heritage Youth Forum" held in China and the "Asia-Pacific Heritage Site Managers' Workshop" held in Thailand.[49] Villalón afterwards retired from the UNESCO Commission in 1999.[50][51] The National Museum nominated the Philippine Paleographs (Hanunoo, Build, Tagbanua and Pala'wan) in 1999 to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register and was inscribed on the same year, becoming the first international documentary heritage coming from the Philippines.[52] Additionally, three sites, namely, Naujan Lake National Park, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, and Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, were declared as Ramsar wetland sites under the Ramsar Convention of UNESCO.[53]

Batanes nomination, other activities (2001-2010)Edit

 
A woman chanting the Hudhud while harvesting. The Hudhud Chants of the Ifugao was declared as one of the Eleven Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001, and later inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists in 2008.

In 2001, the Heritage Conservation Society started its appeal to the officials of Batanes to establish conservation programs for a possible UNESCO inscription as the Batanes Protected landscapes and seascapes has been a UNESCO tentative site in 1993. On the same year, the Hudhud chant of the Ifugao was declared as one of the Eleven Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.[54] However, UNESCO also enlisted the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras in the List of Sites in Danger, prompting local officials to initiate a province-wide conservation program for the terraces.[55] Before the year ended, the Nelson Tower was named as an Honourable Mention in the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards.[56]

In 2003, Radio Veritas Asia, Raja Broadcasting Network, and Punzalan Personal Archives nominated the Radio Broadcast of the Philippine People Power Revolution in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. The nomination was inscribed on the same year.[57] Additionally, the Gota de Leche Building was named as an Honourable Mention in the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards.[58]

Additionally, the country nominated Batanes to the world heritage list, but it was deferred by UNESCO due to lack of conservation. The site officially was put in deferred status in 2005. In 2005, the Darangen epic chant of the Maranao was decalred as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.[59] On the same year, the Far Eastern University was named as an Honourable Mention in the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards.[60]

In December 2005, the Philippines participated in the UNESCO Regional Workshop on Periodic Reporting Follow-up for North-East and South-East Asia, held in Malaysia.[61] The country also participated in the Seeing with Young Eyes – Teacher Training Workshop of UNESCO in 2006, which was also conducted in Vigan in 2001.[62] In August 2007, the "Living Landscapes and Cultural Landmarks: World Heritage Sites in the Philippines" was launched by Villalón.[63] On the same year, the Batanes nomination was put in "referred status", pending for the dossier to be submitted by the local Ivatan authorities.

In 2007, the U.P. Center for Ethnomusicology nominated the José Maceda Collection to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. The documentary heritage was inscribed on the same year.[64]

In 2008, the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists were established; both the Hudhud chant of the Ifugao and the Darangen epic chant of the Maranao were inscribed on the same year.[65][66]

 
An old coral-stone house in Batanes, a UNESCO tentative site.

Middle of 2008, all the documents were ready except for the Batanes dossier. UNESCO set early 2010 as the deadline for the dossier for site inscription, however, the local officials of Batanes failed to make a dossier, and thus, the site was officially taken out from referred status. Due to this, the nomination reverted to zero. This failure led the Heritage Conservation Society to focus on the nomination of Davao Oriental's Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. In September 2008, the Philippines participated in the "Workshop for the World Heritage property of Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha" held in Nepal.[67] In 2009, the boundaries of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park was expanded.[68]

In April 2010, the Philippines participated in the "Sub-regional Workshop on the second cycle of Periodic Reporting in Asia and the Pacific" held in China.[69] In late 2010, conservationists from the Heritage Conservation Society went to Batanes again to initiate a second nomination attempt. The organization found that non-traditional concrete structures were being established by locals in various sections of the islands, effectively diminishing the site's cultural value. The society appealed to the local government to stop the non-traditional buildings, but the local government retaliated against the conservationists. A report noted that traditional Ivatan houses were being converted into hollow block houses for the benefit of local politicians. In 2011, the government of Batanes formally nominated their province in UNESCO, but failed due to lack of cultural protections, lack of a holistic dossier, and the establishment of non-traditional buildings which have been approved by the provincial and municipal governments of Batanes at the time. Prompted by failures of past officials, the local governments of Batanes afterwards converged and declared a province-wide cultural and natural conservation program. The National Museum of the Philippines initiated the establishment of a branch museum in the province to preserve Ivatan heritage. The Heritage Conservation Society and National Commission for Culture and the Arts aided the conservation programs led by the Ivatan officials. The Philippine government has stated that once all conservation programs are deemed successful and fulfilled, the Philippines will again nominate Batanes to the UNESCO world heritage list.[70][71]

Heritage protection law and Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) (2010-2014)Edit

In April 10, 2010, the National Cultural Heritage Act (Republic Act No. 10066) formally came into effect. The law created the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property and took other steps to preserve historic buildings that were over 50 years old.[72] In October 2011, two typhoons severely damaged the UNESCO-inscribed Rice Terraces in Ifugao, prompting a massive rehabilitation program.[73]

In 2011, the The Manuel L. Quezon Papers, University of Michigan Library in partnership with the Philippine government, nominated the Presidential Papers of Manuel L. Quezon to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. The documentary heritage was inscribed afterwards.[74]

 
The Presidential Papers of Manuel L. Quezon was inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2011.

In middle of 2011, 26 cultural workers were accepted for the UNITAR Series on the Management and Conservation of World Heritage Sites with a theme of 'Preparing World Heritage Nominations: Continuity and Change within UNESCO's New Manual'. Out of 26 accepted participants, three were Filipinos, namely, Ivan Henares of the Heritage Conservation Society, Florentino Hornedo of the Batanes nomination consultancy group, and Erwin Sebastian of the National Museum of the Philippines. Three factors were cited for the lack of world heritage declarations in the Philippines, namely, (1) the lack of awareness about UNESCO World Heritage among local stakeholders, especially the indigenous communities, local governments and residents that live around these potential sites, (2) the absence of competent people who are fully aware of the processes involved in preparing and providing the correct documents for nomination as World Heritage, and (3) the lack of government funding to prepare and support these nominations, among many others. It was also noted that describing a nominated property as "unique" is the worst argument one could give for UNESCO nomination as all sites are not unique and there are always similar properties it can be compared with. The Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) based on at least one of the ten criteria should be clearly established as well, according to UNESCO. According to UNESCO, the most important part of the nomination is the Comparative Analysis of the site as extensive comparison with other similar properties is vital to prove OUV and push nomination forward. Due to this, the Filipino delegations acknowledged the need to rewrite the dossier for Batanes, as it was rejected before due to many lacking information for an actual nomination to be accepted by UNESCO. Due to these findings, the Philippine government would later establish a world heritage nomination workshop series from 2016 to 2017 for the tentative sites and possible tentative sites of the country.[75] By November 2011, Heritage Conservation Society president Ivan Henares and various cultural experts criticized the plan of the Batangas provincial government to establish a 'Hollywood sign' on top of the Taal Volcano, which at the time was included as a tentative site for UNESCO world heritage site nomination. Henares noted that Taal would lose its credibility to be declared as a UNESCO site if the 'sign' project pushes through. The criticism against the project was further enlarged by social media, and a few days later, the provincial government retracted the proposal.[76]

 
Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), engulfing almost 90% of the country, has destroyed thousands of Filipino heritage monuments and objects.

In March 2012, the Swiss-based Jaeger-LeCoultre initiated an auction which benefited the conservation programs for the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park.[77] In June 2012, the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras was officially removed from the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Danger, marking the country's most successful cultural landscape rehabilitation achievement.[78] On the same month, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park was declared as a Ramsar wetland site under the Ramsar Convention of UNESCO.[79] In September 2012, the Philippines participated in the "Joint International Symposium: Involving Communities for Better Conservation and Management of Asian World Heritage Sites" held in South Korea.[80] In October 2012, the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park won the Future Policy Award for marine resource management, the first Philippine site to receive the prestigious international conservation award.[81] On the same month, the Heritage City of Vigan was recognized for "best practice in World Heritage site management".[82]

 
Numerous UNESCO tentative sites were destroyed during the 2013 Bohol earthquake. Three weeks later, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) also drastically destroyed more heritage sites in the country.

In January 2013, an American vessel ran aground in the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. The United States government afterwards paid 87 million pesos in compensation.[83][84] In March 2013, the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area was declared as a Ramsar wetland site under the Ramsar Convention of UNESCO.[85] In June 2013, the Philippines participated in the "International World Heritage Youth Forum: Living with Heritage: Temple, Environment and People (T.E.P.)" held in Cambodia.[86] In May 2013, a Chinese vessel also crashed in the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, destroying approximately 3,902 square meters (42,000 square feet) of coral. It was also found that brutally-killed endangered pangolins from the Palawan Biosphere Reserve were inside the Chinese ship. Pangolins are protected under Philippine laws.[87] In September 2013, the Philippines launched the "Pamana: World Heritage in the Philippines" funded by UNESCO.[88] In October 2013, the 7.2 2013 Bohol Earthquake hit the Central Visayas, damaging numerous heritage sites throughout the region, including sites listed in the Philippine UNESCO Tentative List. Three weeks later, in November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful typhoon of the century, also hit the Visayas, damaging more heritage sites.[89] On the same month, the Philippines was elected in the World Heritage Committee.[90] In early 2014, the faithful restoration of the sites began.

In April 2014, the Philippines participated in the "UNESCO Asia Pacific World Heritage Project on Marine Biodiversity & Climate Change Awareness among Youth" held in New Caledonia.[91] In June 2014, the Lazi Church was noted be being 'eyed' for nomination in the world heritage list.[92] Afterwards, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts launched the Sagisag Kultura, a long-term cultural mapping program that lists and discusses the cultural icons of the Philippines, both intangible and tangible, living and non-living. The program has listed more than 2,000 cultural icons since July 2014, all of which are accessible to the public and can be downloaded at the commission's website for reference and study.[93] In late 2014, the idea to nominate the Manila–Acapulco Galleon Trade Route was initiated by the Mexican ambassador to UNESCO with the Filipino ambassador to UNESCO after a meeting between the two sides during a documentary showing of the galleons was held in Cuernavaca, Mexico.[94]

In June 2014, the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, becoming the sixth world heritage site of the country since the country's last inscription in 1999.[95]

Revision on tentative list (2015-2016)Edit

 
The Manila–Acapulco Galleon Trade Route, a proposed UNESCO trans-boundary site

In 2015, the Tugging Rituals and Games, wherein the Punnuk - tugging ritual of the Ifugao, was inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.[96]

In March 20, 2015, the UNESCO Tentative List of the Philippines was fully revised after recommendations from the UNESCO. The original tentative list before the March 2015 revision enlisted 28 sites. Many of the sites removed from the list were sites hit by Typhoon Haiyan and the Bohol Earthquake in 2013, while others were removed due to pollution and heavy human intervention. Among the sites that were removed from the tentative list were Taal Volcano Protected Landscape, Panglao Island, Mount Apo Natural Park, Maragondon Church, San Sebastian Church (Manila), Baclayon Church, Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines, Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Liguasan Marsh, Mount Matutum Protected Landscape, Mount Kitanglad, and Mount Kalatungan. The country announced that it shall revitalize the sites removed from the tentative list first before those sites can be re-submitted in the future.[97] In April 2015, a new management plan was launched for Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. The new plan puts focus on the site's "Outstanding Universal Value".[98]

An Experts' Roundtable Meeting was held at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) on April 23, 2015 as part of the preparation of the Philippines for the possible transnational nomination of the Manila–Acapulco Galleon Trade Route to the World Heritage List. The nomination will be made jointly with Mexico. The meeting focused on the tornaviaje, shipyards in the Bicol region, underwater archaeology, maps and cartography, fortifications in the Philippines, food, textile, and historical dimension. The papers presented and discussed during the roundtable meeting will be synthesized into a working document to establish the route's outstanding universal value.[99] The Mexican side reiterated that they will also follow suit with the preparations for the route's nomination. Spain has also backed the nomination of the route in the World Heritage List and has also suggested the archives related to the route under the possession of the Philippines, Mexico, and Spain to be nominated as part of another UNESCO list, the Memory of the World Register.[100]

 
The Malolos Historic Town Center was cited as a potential world heritage site in 2016.

In May 2015, the Philippines applied for better protection for marine World Heritage sites at the UNESCO-affiliated International Maritime Organisation.[101] In August 2015, the Philippine Heritage Map, also known as the Philippine Inventory of Cultural Properties and Historic Events, was launched by Arches, Getty Conservation Institute, and World Monuments Fund, in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, National Museum of the Philippines, and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.[102] On the same month, the Philippines participated in the UNESCO-initiated World Heritage Volunteers 2015 Action Camps.[103]

In September 2015, the Philippines participated in the "10th International Training Programme on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage" held in Japan.[104] In October 2015, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts announced through their official Instagram account that they shall nominate the Sugar Centrals of the Philippines and related properties of Negros Occidental to the World Heritage List in the near future. Though the site has yet to be entered in the tentative list.

 
Balay Negrense, one of the many Sugar Central Sites in Negros, a proposed UNESCO site

In January 2016, the Philippines participated in the international dialogue on "Understanding rights practices in the World Heritage system: lessons from the Asia-Pacific and the global area" held in Switzerland.[105]

In March 2016, the Heritage Conservation Society appealed to numerous sugar central site owners in the Philippines to preserve their respective heritage sugar mills and other structures, especially those in Negros island and Pampanga province.[106] In April 2016, the International Maritime Organization approved “in principle” the "Particularly Sensitive Sea Area Status" for Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.[107] In June 2016, the Heritage City of Malolos was cited by cultural experts as a potential world heritage site.[108]

In September 2016, the Heritage Conservation Society announced that the Negros Sugar Heritage Sites are now in the process of making a dossier. The society identified at least 6 heritage clusters so far. Once the dossier is complete, the society intends to formally message the Philippine National Commission to UNESCO so that the site can be added in the tentative list, making the site eligible for UNESCO nomination. The society noted that it will take several years for the nomination to be finalized, as it was the normal timeline for a World Heritage inclusion.[109]

Heritage workshops for UNESCO drafting initiated (2016-2017)Edit

 
The Albay Biosphere Reserve was inscribed in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2016.

In 14–15 April 2016, the first leg of the Pamana (Heritage) Workshop of the Philippine government was administered in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. The second leg was administered on 15–16 September 2016 in Mati, Davao Oriental. The third and last leg was administered in Legaspi City, Albay on 23–24 March 2017. During the three Pamana Workshops, the government undertook UNESCO conferences to prepare the dossiers of the 19 existing UNESCO tentative sites in the country, notably Mayon Natural and Cultural Landscape, Coron Natural Biotic Area, Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape, and the Chocolate Hills Natural Monument. The government also invited the administrators of sites not included yet in the tentative list.[110][111]

In June 2016, the Heritage Conservation Society, with aid from the US embassy, successfully initiated the cultural-tourism program for the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, which benefits the indigenous communities of the site. The program was part of a series of projects aimed to revitalize the sanctuary's outstanding universal value, so that it may be eligible for re-submission in the UNESCO tentative list.[112] In August 2016, the Gabaldon-style Schools of the Philippines were cited as potential UNESCO sites.[113] In October 2016, the Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area was declared as a Ramsar wetland site under the Ramsar Convention of UNESCO.[114] Before 2016 ended, the Albay Biosphere Reserve was inscribed in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.[115]

In January 2017, American company Nickelodeon announced that it will build an undersea attraction and resort within the UNESCO tentative site of Coron, which is part of the Palawan Biosphere Reserve. The announcement receievd massive backlash and criticism from hundreds of organizations coming from different sectors in the Philippines. A whopping majority of Palawan residents were also not in favor of the construction of the resort as Palawan has been hailed as the Philippines' "last ecological frontier".[116] In May 2017, the Philippines participated in the "UNESCO Expert Meeting for the World Heritage Nomination Process of the Maritime Silk Routes" held in the United Kingdom.[117]

 
Baguio, a UNESCO Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts.

In July 2017, the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park was declared by UNESCO to have been protected from international shipping impacts.[118] On the same month, the Philippines participated in the "World Heritage Young Professionals Forum 2017 " held in Poland.[119] In August 2017, Nickelodeon announced that its plans to build a resort in Palawan will not push through.[120] In September 2017, the Philippines participated in the "Capacity Building Workshop on Nature-Culture Linkages in Heritage Conservation in Asia and the Pacific" held in Japan.[121] In October 2017, the Philippines participated in the "Photo Exhibit: Coral Reefs on UNESCO's World Heritage List" held in France.[122]

In November 2017, Baguio City was declared as a "Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts" and was inscribed in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, becoming the country's first inscription in the network.[123]

On the same month, the University of the Philippines School of Urban and Regional Planning (UP-SUPR), along with other proponents, announced that the entire island of Bohol is in the process of being nominated as a UNESCO Global Geopark. The university named Hinagdanan Cave, Maribojoc Uplift, Inabanga Wall, and the Chocolate Hills as the focal properties of the Bohol Global Geopark. The Chocolate Hills in Bohol is currently in the tentative list for UNESCO world heritage sites.[124]

2018-presentEdit

 
Majority of heritage sites destroyed or damaged by the 2013 earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan have been restored.

In February 2018, majority of the sites that were damaged or completely destroyed during the 2013 central Viasayas earthquake and super typhoon Haiyan were restored to their original state using advance technology that made it possible to restore the sites in the most faithful way possible, effectively preserving the outstanding universal value of the sites.[125] The National Commission for Culture and the Arts also initiated a program to 3D laser scan all UNESCO cultural World Heritage Sites in the country as preparation for disasters in the future. The project ended in March 2018.[126] In February 20, 2018, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts announced that they are guiding stakeholders to begin the long process in aiming to declare the Kalibo piña weaving of Aklan a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.[127]

On 9 April 2018, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) nominated the buklog rituals of the Subanen people to the list in need for urgent safeguarding. UNESCO has set the nomination of buklog for the 2019 inscription cycle.[128] In July 2, 2018, the government announced its bid to declare Bohol a UNESCO Global Geopark Reserve. Dr. Patrick Kames McKeever, secretary of the International Geosciences and Geoparks Program of UNESCO, later came into the country last July 23–27, 2018 to inspect the site's potential.[129][130][131]

 
The Culion Leprosy Archives was inscribed in the Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific Regional Register in 2018, a step closer to a UNESCO Memory of the World Register inscription.

On 13 May 2018, it was announced that Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape in southern Palawan will formally undergo UNESCO's hectic process in administering its possible declaration as a World Heritage site by 2020. Initially, Albay's Mayon Volcano was also set for declaration by 2020, but did not make the cut after government failed to submit the documents for Mayon Volcano on time.[132]

On 30 May, the UNESCO Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific (Mowcap) inscribed the Culion Leprosy Archives to the Mowcap Regional Register, one step closer to becoming part of the international UNESCO Memory of the World list. The archives are housed at the Culion Museum and Archives in Culion, Palawan, and boast 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.[133] On June 11, 2018, the entries in the newly-updated Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP) was at 3,921. Additionally, 1,259 out of 1,715 LGUs (provincial, municipal/city-levels), or 73 percent of LGUs have established local cultural inventories (LCI).[134]

 
Verde Island is located at the middle of the 1.14 million hectare Verde Island Passage, a proposed UNESCO World Heritage site.

On 27 July 2018, the provincial government of Apayao announced their intent for the province to be a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The site is the stronghold of Philippine eagles in Luzon. The province also noted that they have sent four of their personnel to train in the United States under the US Foreign Service to hasten the declaration of the site.[135] In January 16, 2019, the provincial government announced that they are at the 'legwork for the inscription'.[136]

On 24 September 2018, it was announced that a week prior, the top officials of all provinces surrounding the Verde Island Passage, namely Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Romblon, and Marinduque, convened for the first time in begin the UNESCO dossier preparation for the site. The Verde Island Passage is known in the international scientific community as the "center of the center of marine shore fish biodiversity in the world" after research was concluded by the Smithsonian Institution.[137] On the same month, the Philippines participated in the "2018 Capacity Building Workshop on Nature-Culture Linkages in Heritage Conservation in Asia and the Pacific" held in Japan.[138]

 
The San Sebastian Church (Manila) is threatened by a planned highrise building to be constructed by Summithome Realty Corporation.

In October 1, 2018, it was revealed that a thirty one-storey residential highrise building of Summithome Realty Corporation is being planned to be constructed beside the historic San Sebastian Church, negatively affecting the site's possible re-inclusion in the UNESCO tentative list as the area around the church is integral to the site as a 'buffer zone'. The site, the first and only all-steel church in Asia, used to be in the UNESCO tentative list but was removed in 2015 due to structural decay. To re-establish the site's integrity and re-inclusion in the tentative list, it underwent a massive restoration program, which conservationists have cited as a massive success. However, with the looming threat of the high-rise building, the site's inclusion in the UNESCO list is bleak. Summithome was able to acquire a barangay clearance supporting their application for a building permit from the barangay chairman, without the site managers being initially informed.[139]

On November 19, 2018, UNESCO warned the Philippines that the San Agustin Church of Manila and three other Baroque churches (Paoay of Ilocos Norte, Santa Maria of Ilocos Sur, and Miag-ao of Iloilo) may be delisted from the prestigious World Heritage List as a result of the construction of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge across the Pasig River in Manila. The bridge would encroach on the “buffer zone” required by the UNESCO for San Augustin Church to remain as a World Heritage Site, according to the UNESCO National Commission (UNACOM). Due to the singular declaration of the four baroque churches, the damage of one of them signifies a damage on all of the sites.[140] In November 20, the Senate minority leader filed a resolution calling on the Senate to probe the controversial bridge, citing the 2009 de-listing of Germany's Dresden Elbe Valley from UNESCO's World Heritage List due to the building of a four-lane bridge.[141] However, the presidential palace insisted that the construction of the bridge will not affect the world heritage site status of the baroque churches.[142]

See alsoEdit

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External linksEdit