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House OKs bill for 15 agencies to back cultural mapping

The country’s local government units (LGUs) have edged closer to getting the full backing of 15 national agencies behind the cultural mapping that these LGUs are to undertake for the purpose of identifying and documenting for the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) all heritage resources in their respective localities, as part of proposed amendments to a 13-year-old law meant to preserve these treasured properties, CamSur Rep. LRay Villafuerte has said.

Villafuerte said that as proposed in House Bill (HB) 5110, which the chamber passed recently on third and final reading, 11 Departments and four more national state offices are to assist in the mapping or inventory of locally- and nationally-declared cultural assets that every LGU is supposed to undertake in its locality for the preservation and proper use of such movable and immovable assets along with other forms of tangible and intangible heritage.

“Improving our cultural mapping is important for our nation to see clearly our rich heritage and what we stand to lose. The imprints of our identity as Filipinos are numerous from our languages and traditions to food, craft and fashion,” said Villafuerte, one of the four authors of HB 1088 that was consolidated with HB 5110 prior to the latter’s final approval by the House of Representatives.

“With advances in transportation and communication technology, interaction and integration of cultures and economies become inevitable. Filipinos are increasingly open to assimilating what the rest of the world has to offer. In doing so, however, it is important to preserve our unique Filipino identity,” Villafuerte, president of the National Unity Party (NUP), said.

Villafuerte explained that the House-approved amendatory bill—HB 5110—that aims to upgrade Republic Act (RA) No. 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, mandates LGUs to periodically monitor and then update the NCCA on the status of these invaluable assets, by way of their respective inventories of tangible or intangible movable and immovable heritage, natural heritage, cultural institutions, significant personalities and creative industries within their areas of jurisdiction.

“This House-approved amendatory bill supports Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution that seeks to preserve, protect, conserve, promote and enrich the nation’s historical and cultural heritage, resources, property, as well as artistic creations,” Villafuerte said. “As we adapt to globalization and modernity, this measure proposes to strengthen RA 10066. Among others, it seeks to improve our framework and cultural mapping to encompass tangible and intangible and natural and built heritage.”

Villafuerte introduced HB 1088 with CamSur Reps. Miguel Luis Villafuerte and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata and the Bicol Saro partylist.

Alongside the technical and financial support that LGUs are to get from the NCCA under HB 5110 for their inventories, 15 more agencies are tasked by this House-passed amendatory bill to assist local governments in their cultural or heritage mapping activities.

These include the Departments of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), of Education (DepEd), of Foreign Affairs (DFA), of Information and Communication (DICT), of Science and Technology (DOST), of Tourism (DOT), National Defense (DND), Agriculture (DA), of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The other institutions required by HB 5110 to assist LGUs in their cultural mapping are the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC) of the Department of Health (DOH)

Villafuerte said the amendatory bill also seeks to improve the cultural education of Filipinos by including the conservation, preservation and significance of cultural heritage properties in the teaching programs of the DepEd, CHED and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

A former CamSur governor, Villafuerte said that LGUs, in their mapping tasks, shall likewise mobilize and establish partnerships with non-government organizations (NGOs), cultural groups, academic and private institutions in pursuit of such efforts, provided that these institutions adhere to the guidelines set forth by the NCCA.

All findings and outputs from the inventories shall be submitted to and registered in the would-be Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP), which the NCCA is to establish—within three years of this Act’s effectivity—to be the repository of the listing, documentation and statement of significance of all cultural properties of the country that have been deemed locally and nationally significant.

HB 5110 directs the NCCP to maintain its Portal Cultural Databank, which shall be the online database where digitized cultural maps are to be lodged for the information of the public and for scientific research and academic purposes.

The amendatory bill states that “the cultural agencies concerned and LGUs shall continuously coordinate in making entries and in monitoring and updating the various cultural properties in their respective cultural property inventories.”

It requires the NCCA to “provide technical and financial assistance to LGUs for the inventory and updating of locally and nationally-declared cultural properties, and tangible and intangible heritage.”

“The inclusion of cultural properties belonging to the indigenous cultural communities or indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) in the registry shall be subject to prior consultation with the ICCs/IPs and their free, prior and informed consent,” the bill adds.

Villafuerte noted that the key features of HB 1008 that were added to the House-approved HB 5110 include the following tasks that the various agencies are to undertake, in support of the cultural mapping activities or heritage inventories of LGUs:

· Strengthening by the DILG of the comprehensive land use and development plan that respect the value of heritage sites and zones, and capacity building of local chief executives and the sanggunian on culture-based governance;

· Institutionalization by the DepEd of cultural awareness in basic education; capacity-building program for teachers in mapping heritage resources of local communities and cultural pedagogy; and localization and contextualization of educational material and content based on the localities’ cultural profiles to cultivate awareness and pride in community identity;

· Institutionalization by the CHED of cultural awareness in state universities and colleges (SUCs), and strengthening of culture, heritage, arts and history researches that impact on community development;

· Formulation by the DOT of tourism development plans and culture-based programs for tourism sites and national and world heritage declared sites, and cultural sensitivity and tourism capacity building;

· Documentation by the DA of heritage crops, products, technologies, agricultural heritage systems, and food sources that sustain the indigenous local communities, and inventory of natural and non-traditional fibers and its processes and utilization;

· Inventory by the DENR of national parks and areas that are habitats of endemic species and unique biodiversity; enforcement for the protection and conservation of natural heritage sites; research on the ecosystem services of the environment to the lives of the people; and promotion of the concept of cultural landscape for sustainable development;

· Enhancement by the DFA of Philippine cultural diplomacy, and its participation in the programs of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conventions and other international organizations;

· Development by the DICT of information and communications technology (ICT) appropriate for improving public access, resource sharing, and dissemination of cultural heritage information;

·Awareness building by the DND on the culture, heritage and history as basis for conflict settlement, culture-based approach in trauma counseling process, and documentation of resiliency mechanism of communities during disasters and calamities;

· Awareness building by the DPWH on cultural heritage sensitivity, and institution of guidelines for its programs as they impact heritage zones and sites, in coordination with the commission;

· Research application by the DOST on the conservation of materials and structures; inventory on natural resources of dyes; traditional textiles and apparel materials, designs, techniques, processes and machines, other pertinent research, and development and innovation for the textile industry sector in the country;

· Inventory and development by the DTI of cultural heritage-based products and entrepreneurship programs, and the adoption of culturally sensitive trade fair promotions and programs;

· Preservation and digitalization by the FDCP of film negatives and prints, audiovisual contents and elements and non-film archive, including story outlines, screenplays, set and stills photos, posters, and other documents on the creation and distribution of cinematic works;

· Research, documentation and inventory by the PITAHC of Philippine traditional medicine and practices in health; and research and development (R&D) of traditional herbal medicine and traditionally used herbal products; and

· IP-driven documentation and publication by the NCIP of all information about the origin and history of ICCs/IPs, settlement patterns and ancestral domains, population and social diaspora, governance and political systems including customary laws, indigenous political structures, justice and peace pact systems, and conflict resolution and decision-making mechanisms.

IP documentation shall likewise cover practices on social organization and kinship, economy and technology, spiritual beliefs and rituals, life cycle customs and traditions, material culture, medicinal knowledge and sciences, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and other attributes of their ethnicity, life situations and worldviews on the interrelationships with the creator, land and environment, and other people.

In all cases wherein any cultural mapping activity affects an ancestral domain, the ICC/IP concerned shall be consulted in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations.

The House-approved bill also directs the DepEd to coordinate with the NCCA’s Philippine Cultural Education Program in formulating the cultural heritage education programs both for local and overseas Filipinos to be incorporated into the formal, alternative and informal education, with emphasis on the protection, conservation and preservation of cultural heritage property.

Moreover, it states that, “Within one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act, the DepEd, TESDA and CHED, in consultation with the Commission, shall set forth in its teaching programs nationwide the following cultural heritage education programs, which shall primarily be carried out at the provincial, city and municipal levels.”

These programs are on the following, among others:

· Protection, conservation and preservation of cultural heritage properties: provided, that the development and coordination of skills training courses for various forms of traditional medicine practices and formulations shall be coordinated with the PITAHC;

· Research and documentation of heritage in various platforms;

· Utilization of cultural heritage in interdisciplinary fields towards sustainable development: provided, that music, sound, and audiovisual archiving shall be coordinated with the FDCP; and

· Indigenous knowledge systems skills and practices through the appropriate schools of living traditions models, with the participation of the ICCs/IPs and in conjunction with the NCIP.-30-


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