The Cost Of Losing Yesterday

Over the past few years Filipinos have been more conscious of preserving our heritage specially the young people of today.

We have lost a lot of our cultural and heritage structures and some taken out of their original place like a fish-out-of-water which just seems wrong. But then again those structures have been deteriorating prior to being purchased and relocated. this is where the debate begins. But I won't go into that issue I'd like to talk more about within just the context of having these structures preserved per se.

First of all we need to know what is Heritage? 

According to Wikipedia heritage  is "the legacy of physical artifacts (cultural property) and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Cultural heritage includes tangible culture (such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artifacts), intangible culture (such as folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge), and natural heritage (including culturally significant landscapes, and biodiversity)."

To simply put it I personally define it as the evidence of our history like artifacts

To better understand and realize how important preserving our heritage is I asked Ivan Henares who's advocacy towards heritage conservation has earned him the recognition of being one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of 2013 (TOYM) to shed some light on this.

Photo from
Why is it important for us to preserve our heritage such as buildings and line of sight to name a few and why is it important for us a nation?.

We need to safeguard our heritage in order the strengthen our national identity and preserve the character of our towns and cities. This is very important if we want to promote our cities as tourism destinations.

I always pose the question: "What do you visit when you travel to other countries?" 

Isn't it we travel to other countries to experience their culture first-hand, visit their heritage sites, try out their local cuisine? If we travel to other countries to visit their heritage, why are we getting rid of our own heritage? 

If we want to compete in the global tourism industry, we need to highlight what makes us uniquely Filipino. Why will tourists fly to the Philippines if we promote something that they can easily experience at home?

Are there economic benefits of preserving such heritage structures?

Heritage can be a catalyst for economic growth through cultural tourism. I've seen it in many other countries, especially our ASEAN neighbors. They've effectively harnessed the potential of heritage and culture as a tool for poverty alleviation by uplifting the lives of communities within and around cultural heritage sites. 

There are a lot of heritage structures around the Philippines but the main argument of owners is that they don't know and don't have any money to preserve such big structures. What should owners like these do and are there any institutions or agency that could help them?

The are incentives for restoring heritage structures under RA10066 - National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009. First thing they have to do is a get their structure declared. Once declared, government funds can be used for restoration and their are many sources like the local government units, congressional funds, PAGCOR, TIEZA and many other agencies. Also, when declared, funds contributed by private individuals or entities can be considered donations to the NCCA and are thus tax deductible. They can approach the National Historical Commission of the Philippines or National Museum to lead them to the right direction.

For ordinary people like students, professionals or just plain housewives what can we do to help?

Before we can promote our heritage and its effective conservation, we first have to understand what it is all about. Traveling is an effective teacher. The experiences we gain from traveling and learning about different cultures first-hand can enrich ones own outlook in life. I've learned so much from the many places I've visited. The epiphany that hit me while visiting all eighty provinces of the Philippines — that our country is extremely blessed and beautiful, and our cultural heritage rich and colorful — has made me a more passionate Filipino.

Our heritage is one of our most important tourism products. We should value it not just because it has the potential to uplift our lives through tourism. We should take care of it because it is our identity and who we are as Filipinos. We should not erase our nation's soul.

We can also help raise awareness by sharing heritage issue on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. HCS Twitter handle is @HeritagePH. Current hashtags are #HeritagePH and #SaveManilaBay

Any message for Filipinos about heritage conservation?

Any successful advocacy must be community-based. The task to preserve our country's heritage is a daunting one, more so that we have significant built heritage in all provinces of the Philippines. 

We can't do everything from Metro Manila. We really need to make people in local communities understand how important their heritage is, and that it is an inherent part of our national heritage. That's why if we want to be successful, we need to make sure communities with built heritage embrace the concept of heritage conservation. So we encourage each community to safeguard their own heritage as part of national efforts for heritage conservation. 

Like Ivan said preserving our heritage not just saves the structures but our identity as well as a nation. It tells our children what lives we have lived and what we have done for their future.

So lets take action now not later, start by supporting these petitions simply digitally sign them to help ensure the future of these heritage.

Would you want to tell you child "Son this is where we use to go out and walk along so watch the sunset" instead of showing them what is really is? The true sunset of Manila bay can't be replaced by videos and pictures, just like how we cry over the photos of old Manila and how it used to be so beautiful.

What we may loose. Please atch in at least 360P

Philam Theater
"This is one of the best performance halls in the entire Philippines and must be saved. It has some of the best acoustics for Manila's orchestras, choirs, and solo musical artists and its destruction would be a gigantic loss for Filipino culture and heritage." - Maestro Olivier Ochanine / Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra

Philam Theater: Sign the petition HERE

I hope this enlightens some of us and motivate to take action before we lose the traces of who and what we are. Help conserve yesterday today.

Special thanks to Mr. Ivan Heneres of for helping us understand heritage conservation more. 

No comments: