Monday, December 05, 2011

17th ICOMOS General Assembly held in Paris, France

The 17th ICOMOS General Assembly was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France from November 27 to December 2, 2011. Representing the Philippine National Committee were Ma. Joycelyn Mananghaya, Ivan Anthony Henares and David Mason.

Mananghaya and Henares also attended the 2011 annual meetings of the Cultural Landscapes (ISCCL) and Cultural Tourism (ICTC) committees respectively. The Philippines will be hosting the 2012 ICTC Annual Meeting in Vigan, Ilocos Sur from November 5 to 10, 2012.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

ICOMOS Philippines partners with Gawad Kalinga for Intramuros project

ICOMOS Philippines was among the partners of the Gawad Kalinga Intramuros project last October 1, 2011 that was launched with 2000 student volunteers from all over the Philippines doing work in Intramuros. They cleaned up debris from last week's typhoon, painted walls, removed growth from the fortifications and built or repaired sidewalks with concrete pavers. This is the first phase of a long-range project to bring Intramuros into the consciousness of the youth so they will respect their heritage.

ICOMOS members will have the opportunity to be involved in future projects.

Monday, August 01, 2011

ICOMOS Philippines joins Philippine Green Building Initiative

ICOMOS Philippines was invited to represent the heritage sector as a trustee of the Philippine Green Building Initiative (PGBI). In the photo are ICOMOS Philippines President Augusto F. Villalon and member Archt. Dominic Galicia at the induction of PGBI Board Members. They were sworn into office by Hon. Heherson Alvarez, Commissioner for Climate Change

PGBI is a non-profit, voluntary group of professional associations involved with the built-environment who share a common concern with the impacts of global warming and climate change. Its vision is to be the leader in developing a sustainable nation by promoting energy-efficient and environment-friendly design and construction.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

ICOMOS Philippines meets at the Sta. Ana Church in Manila

ICOMOS members at the Sta. Ana Church camarin
ICOMOS Philippines met last July 9, 2011 at the White Room of the Sta. Ana Church in Manila. Members involved in the Sta. Ana Community Project, namely Kara Garilao (Fundacion Santiago) and Christian Aguilar (Escuela Taller) shared their work with other ICOMOS members.

Maila Subido, Sta. Ana resident and historian, talks about Sta. Ana history
The Sta. Ana community leaders served traditional Sta. Ana pancit (fried noodles) for merienda (afternoon snack). The meeting was attended by a record 53 people.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Augusto F. Villalon receives Diwa ng Lahi Award from City of Manila

Dr. Augusto F. Villalon, President of ICOMOS Philippines, recently received the Diwa ng Lahi Award from the City of Manila, the highest distinction given by the city. They cited his continuing work in rehabilitating some Manila districts and for advocating heritage conservation. In the photos are Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and Gemma Cruz-Araneta, Head of the City of Manila Tourism and Heritage Office, conferring the award on Dr. Villalon.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Searching for the heritage of water on the perfumed Pasig

HAVING to think about the “heritage of water” for a recent cruise on the Pasig for the annual Unesco-Icomos World Heritage Day reminded me of a question asked by a Middle Eastern colleague, whether “it rains in the Philippines.”

Oh, it does! It rains a lot in the Philippines. We live surrounded by an abundance of water, so very unlike life in a parched desert environment.

Our Filipino lifestyle and culture are influenced by water, something many of us don’t realize from living in an archipelago of islands surrounded by water.

I grew up on an island. Not in a small, Robinson Crusoe-sized one, but in a city on a medium-sized Visayan island where I lived my life within sight and reach of the sea.

When I moved to Manila, the first thing that struck me was realizing this city by the bay limited my access to water. The beach was kilometers away. From being immersed in a Visayan seascape, I had moved to the expanse of the Luzon landscape.

Case for insularity
These days, I commute to Cebu often enough to have developed an internal prompt that signals me when we have flown out of the solid mass that is Luzon, telling me when it is the time to look out of the window, to be calmed by the blue of the water we are flying over, and to see the islands that come into view one after another. Pristine beaches ring each island, just the kind of seascape my islander self relates to.

Many islanders live their lives within the confines and the comfort of their shores. Within those shores live your own kind—people who share the same language, outlook, cultural circumstances, even food preferences.

Because of his definite geographical confines, the islander looks inward, into a life of shared beliefs with familiar and kindred souls.

Therefore, it is understandable that those from other shores or other islands are seen as “different” people.

There rests the case for insularity and its mentality that separates “us” from “them.”

The idea that islanders accept the limitations of their shoreline boundaries came up in a conversation with a colleague in Guam, who asked me when I came “on-island and when I was scheduled to go off-island,” his way of asking when I had arrived and was leaving.

Islanders are not confined to their own islands. Across the sea lie other islands to go to, all just a short sail away, none farther than the horizon.

Water connection
How interesting it is to realize that the same water that separates islands also connects them.

Water once connected different parts of Manila, a city that grew from a network of riverine settlements built on islands on the tributary of Pasig River.

Waterways connected the different parts of early Manila, evolving years later into the system of esteros flowing through the city, providing its main transportation routes when emptied into Pasig River or Manila Bay.

A Quiapo-bred lady told me about the estero behind her house. She and her family would wait for vendors to sail to their back entrance to supply the family with vegetables and produce.

On the estero behind her house, she would row her three sisters to school every day.

When the city of Manila organized a Pasig River cruise for Icomos Philippines and Heritage Conservation Society members and their guests to celebrate the heritage of water, nothing seen from the perfumed river hinted that Manila was once a city built on water.

“The Venice of the Far East,” American urban planner Daniel Burnham called Manila in 1905.
The Burnham vision for his 1905 Burnham Plan for Manila was to blend the elegance of Parisian boulevards with Venetian waterways.

Esteros, Burnham’s Venetian waterways, have since clogged up or have been covered over.
Structures that once opened up to the waterways have been boarded up, the estero and river having deteriorated into hazards rather than urban landmarks.

Water, water once upon a time everywhere in our city, where has it gone? (Augusto F. Villalon, Pride of Place, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 23, 2011)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Who is the ICOMOS Philippine Committee?

The global network of ICOMOS membership links closely not only with UNESCO but also advises many national governments on cultural heritage issues.

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization, the Paris-based behemoth that, among its many functions, takes charge of the World Heritage List, overseeing conservation and management of all inscribed natural, cultural, and cultural landscape properties on the List whose number now comes close to approaching the 1,000 mark.

ICOMOS is the official adviser to the World Heritage Committee on cultural heritage matters, reviewing and evaluating proposed sites before recommending their inscription to the World Heritage List.

To monitor the far-flung World Heritage Properties, UNESCO relies on the ICOMOS network, often requesting assistance from each National Committee of ICOMOS to monitor properties in their countries.

When cultural issues arise in any World Heritage property, ICOMOS member-experts are part of the team sent by the World Heritage Committee to investigate and recommend solutions.

Unlike UNESCO, ICOMOS needs re-introduction to the Philippine pubic despite its having been active in the country, albeit in a very low, quiet key, since the late 1980’s when its primary activity was to advise the Department of Foreign Affairs and the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines on international and national cultural heritage matters.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts recognizes ICOMOS as a one of two accredited Philippine heritage NGOs who merit a permanent representative at the NCCA Committee on Monuments and Sites.

Who is ICOMOS and what does it do?

ICOMOS is the acronym for International Council on Monuments and Sites, a Paris-based global organization of professionals in the field of conservation that regulates the conservation practice worldwide through setting procedures and policies for the professional.

The ICOMOS Charter of Venice is internationally recognized as the standard to be followed for the conservation profession.

The organization has a network of approximately 20 International Scientific Committees whose membership focuses on a certain aspect of conservation.

As a sampler of the wide range of interests, some of these Committees are: Vernacular Architecture, Cultural Tourism, Historic Towns and Cities, Underwater Archaeology, Fortifications and Military Heritage, 20th Century Heritage, Legal, Disaster Management, Cultural Landscapes.

Each of the International Scientific Committees undertakes and publish research in their areas.

More importantly, each Committee prepares a Charter defining its priorities, goals, and sets guidelines for members to work towards upholding the Committee’s principles.

The international organization is composed of National Committees in practically every country whose members are recognized leaders in the heritage sector. Its roster of members provides a global network of professionals ready to render service or to provide professional advice to colleagues.

As sole adviser to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee on cultural heritage matters, its members are instrumental in evaluating and recommending properties proposed for inscription to the World Heritage List, and once inscribed, members undertake foreign missions to monitor their state of their conservation and recommend measures to improve their status.

ICOMOS Philippine Committee is a small organization whose members have been vetted by peers to be bona fide conservation specialists whose training and experience qualify them to undertake international and national assignments in various aspects of heritage conservation.

The roster of ICOMOS Philippine Committee members has been submitted to the Department of Tourism, Intramuros Administration, and other government and non-government organizations as professionals certified to undertake conservation work.

What ICOMOS members in the Philippines have been doing is networking with foreign or national colleagues, exchanging professional expertise, advising each other on their projects, and being aware of how its expertise can assist when heritage issues turn up.

More information on ICOMOS can be found at and

Now comes an announcement: Each year UNESCO and ICOMOS celebrate International Heritage Day. The theme for 2011 is the “Heritage of Water”.

To observe International Heritage Day, ICOMOS Philippine Committee, the Heritage Conservation Society, and the City of Manila have joined forces to organize a sunset cruise on the Pasig River.

A presentation on the “Heritage of Water” will be given by one Augusto Villalón, President of ICOMOS Philippine Committee, Vice-President of its International Scientific Committee on Vernacular Architecture, and Member of its International Advisory Committee in Paris.

For those who wish to attend this event on the Pasig River Ferry, departure time is exactly at 4PM on Wednesday, 04 May from Plaza Mexico at the riverbank behind the Department of Immigration in Intramuros.

Space is severely limited; reservations are essential. Please call 3534494 or fax for bookings.

Please help defray expenses through contributing a suggested PhP200 for students, PhP300 for ICOMOS and HCS members, and PhP500 for non-members.

Your comments are invited at (by Augusto F. Villalón, Pride of Place, Philippine Dialy Inquirer, 02 May 2011)

Monday, April 18, 2011

ICOMOS Philippines joins in the celebration of World Heritage Day 2011

April 18 is the International Day for Monuments and Sites or World Heritage Day. For 2011, the theme is: The Cultural Heritage of Water.

According to ICOMOS, "Water is one of the key resources required to sustain life. It has led to the development and generation of significant material culture in the form of items, technology and places. How to obtain it, how to store it, how to harness its power and conserve it has motivated human endeavour in a myriad of ways. It has also been the catalyst for the development of significant cultural practices which have generated intangible cultural heritage values. It has inspired poetry, literature, artistic endeavour such as painting, dance and sculpture. It has informed and inspired the development of philosophies and religious practice. The cultural heritage of water, therefore relates not only to the technology and architecture that humankind has developed to manage, utilise and celebrate its life giving properties but also to those intangible values that have shaped our beliefs and practices."

Ivan Anthony Henares, a member of the ICOMOS Philippines National Committee and expert member of the International Cultural Tourism Committee (ICTC), writes about the cultural heritage of water in the Philippines in International Day for Monuments and Sites 2011 celebrates the cultural heritage of water.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ICOMOS Philippines and PALA host Cultural Landscapes Forum

The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras are simply beautiful, a living cultural landscape and inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. What does it mean to be referred to as a cultural landscape? Are there Philippine laws that can protect and conserve them? How do we become stewards of  an entire mountain ecosystem and even just a single tree?

ICOMOS Philippines and the Philippine Association of Landscape Architects (PALA) will be hosting a Cultural Landscapes Forum on February 26, 2011, 12 to 6 p.m. at the UP College of Architecture. ICOMOS members Archt. Joy Mananghaya, Atty. Kay Malilong-Isberto and Archt. Susan Aquino-Ong will share and give a talk about cultural landscapes, the legal aspects of conservation, and the protection and conservation of Philippine heritage trees.

This is the first of PALA's CPE-2011 series of lectures. For more information, e-mail Susan Aquino-Ong at