Legarda on Heritage Mapping: It’s Food for the Soul Feeding the Stomach

December 20, 2014

In a bid to further promote Philippine heritage preservation, Senator Loren Legarda has organized a lecture on heritage mapping and a tour of the HiblaBaybayin and Biodiversityexhibitions at the National Museum.


“My gift for you this Christmas is a gift for the soul. We can have Christmas parties here and there every year, but this year I wanted it special through this heritage lecture because it is important that we understand who we are and where we came from,” said Legarda in opening the lecture of Associate Professor Eric Babar Zerrudo titled, “Heritage, Makakain Ba ‘Yan?”


Legarda said that the lecture, which she organized for members of the Senate media, her staff and friends, highlights the importance of heritage and how it can actually lead to meaningful progress. Leading the attendees were National Artist F. Sionil Jose, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Chairperson Felipe De Leon Jr., Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Mundita Lim, and Habi: The Philippine Textile Council members led by its Chairperson Maribel Ongpin.


“It operationalizes, simplifies and communicates in simple, clear terms our advocacy on promoting the sustainable use of our finite resources, and the preservation and promotion of our indigenous arts and culture, and our culture as a whole,” she stressed.


During the lecture, Prof. Zerrudo emphasized the need for heritage mapping, stressing that heritage should be at the core of development. It starts with awareness, then appreciation, protection and finally, utilization.


“You cannot utilize something you do not protect; you cannot protect what you do not appreciate; you cannot appreciate what you are not aware of,” Zerrudo stressed.


He presented the case study of Vigan, a well-known heritage city, which is now one of the New7Wonders Cities aside from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Heritage is at the core of development in Vigan and is in fact mainstreamed in its education curriculum.


Legarda, for her part, said that she has filed Senate Bill No. 2501 to mandate all local government units (LGUs) to conduct cultural mapping in coordination with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and Department of Tourism (DOT).


The bill also requires the country’s key educational agencies—DepEd, CHED and TESDA—to collaborate and work with NCCA in implementing plans and programs that integrate and mainstream Philippine arts and culture, including Schools of Living Traditions (SLTs), in the basic, tertiary and technical-vocational education system.


Moreover, Legarda said that her Committee on Environment and Natural Resources is fast tracking the approval of the proposed Protected Areas Declaration Act.


There are 113 areas in the country declared through Presidential proclamations as protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act. However, only 13 have proceeded to be legislated as such. Legislation for the remaining 100 protected areas must be approved to ensure improved conservation programs and appropriate funding


“Our natural resources are very important part of our heritage and should be included in heritage mapping as well,” she stressed.


“The fundamental goal of heritage mapping is to inform, educate and help the nation realize its rich heritage, allowing for reflection of what it stands to lose as a result of its collective apathy and what it could gain if it strives to protect and promote it,” Legarda concluded.