A National Cultural Treasure (NCT) of the Philippines is a tangible (movable and immovable) or intangible heritage property declared by the National Commission for Culture and Arts1 and other cultural agencies such as the National Museum of the Philippines2, National Library of the Philippines3, and National Archives of the Philippines4. Such declarations are authorized under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 20095 and recognized within the Cultural Properties of the Philippines6 by the Philippine government.
l-r: Jose Rizal National Monument (Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila), Las Piñas Bamboo Organ (St. Joseph Parish Church, Las Piñas, Metro Manila), Parish Church of San Gregorio Magno (Majayjay, Laguna), Basilica Menor de San Sebastian or San Sebastian Church (Plaza del Carmen, Quiapo, Manila)
The title of NCT is the highest designation given to a “unique cultural property found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is highly significant and important to the country and nation.”7?
2 out of the 4 components of the University of Santo Tomas NCT: The Main Building and the Arch of the Century (no pictures available for the Central Seminary and the Open Spaces for the 4 papal visits); location: España, Manila
As of May 2018, 85 NCTs are immovable heritage, classified into 7 categories:
- Church complexes and colonial fortifications;
- Mosque complexes and temple complexes;
- Indigenous place of worship or dambana8 complexes;
- Modern and historical residences;
- Structures related to industry, transportation and public works;
- Archeological sites; and,
- Miscellaneous structures and sites.
3 out of the 4 murals, or Sacred Art, of the Parish Church of Saint James the Apostle, Paete, Laguna, by Luciano Dans, a Paeteño, using natural color pigments mixed with volcanic ash and brushes made from cat’s hair (l-r: Saint Christopher wall painting; Heaven, Earth and Hell; another Saint Christopher wall painting being restored due to termite infestation); no picture for the Last Judgment, or Juicio Final (1720), the oldest painted wooden panel-mural located near the church altar)
As of May 2018, there are 18 NCTs classified as movable heritage, although one contains more than 20 heritage objects under “artifacts and ecofacts in the National Museum in Manila”. Movable heritage is further divided into 7 categories:
- Ancient documents or artifacts with pre-colonial writings;
- Archeological materials;
- Ethnic crafts;
- Historical materials owned by historical persons, families, or organizations;
- Sculptures; and,
- Writings and other literary works.
As of May 2018, there are 3 NCTs classified as intangible heritage, inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: the Darangen epic of the Maranao people of Lake Lanao, Hudhud chants of the Ifugao, and Punnuk tugging rituals and games, according to the Wikipedia page “Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Philippines”.9 Intangible heritage is divided into 5 categories:
- Oral traditions and expressions including language;
- Performing arts;
- Social practices, rituals and festive events;
- Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and,
- Traditional craftsmanship or the tradition of making crafts, not the craft itself.
There is a total of 106 NCTs, 3 of which are intangible: 75 are housed in Luzon, 6 are in Mimaropa, 19 are in the Visayas, and 6 in Mindanao. The Sulu Archipelago does not have any such treasures.
Different NCTs originally from the Mimaropa Region, Visayas and Mindanao are now housed in the National Museum in Manila (Luzon), such as the Qu’ran of Bayang11.10
Any Filipino institution or person can nominate a cultural property for a National Cultural Treasure declaration, whether the property is private or public. If the property is private, the ownership of the property is retained by the private owner and shall not be transferred to the government.
Are you now curious to see the complete list of the National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines? Simply visit the Wikipedia page “List of National Cultural Treasures in the Philippines”.10
Include these awesome 106 NCTs in your domestic travel bucket list, and tick them off one by one. Be proud of our heritage, Filipinos!
Almost all information were accessed from the Wikipedia page “List of National Cultural Treasures in the Philippines”.10
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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:
1The National Commission for Culture and Arts is the official government agency for culture in the Philippines, formed in 1987, with headquarters in General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila. It is the overall policy making body, coordinating, and grants-giving agency for the preservation, development and promotion of Philippine arts and culture. Its parent department is the Office of the President of the Philippines and its sub-agencies are the: National Archives of the Philippines4, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, National Library of the Philippines3, National Museum of the Philippines2, Commission on the Filipino Language, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Information is from the Wikipedia page “National Commission for Culture and Arts”.12 Visit its website: www.ncca.gov.ph
2The National Museum of the Philippines is a government institution in the Philippines which serves as the educational, scientific and cultural institution in preserving the various permanent national collections featuring the ethnographic, anthropological, archaeological and visual artistry of the Philippines. It was formed on October 29, 1901, with headquarters in Padre Burgos Avenue, in Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila. Since 1998, it has been the regulatory and enforcement agency of the national government in restoring and safeguarding important cultural properties, sites and reservations throughout the Philippines. It is under the Department of Education and the National Commission for Culture and Arts1. Information is from the Wikipedia page “National Museum of the Philippines”.13 Visit its website: www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph
3The National Library of the Philippinesis the official national library of the Philippines, with over 1.6 million pieces in its collections. It is notably called the home of the original copies of the defining works of Jose Rizal (Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo and Mi Ultimo Adios). It was established in 1901 and located in Rizal Park, at T. M. Kalaw Avenue, Ermita, Manila. Information is from the Wikipedia page “National Library of the Philippines”.14 Visit its website: www.web.nlp.gov.ph
4The National Archives of the Philippines is an agency of the Philippines which is mandated to collect, store, preserve and make available, archival records of the government and other primary sources pertaining to the history and development of the country, as a result of the passage of Republic Act 9470 on May 21, 2007. It is the primary records management agency, tasked to formulate and implement the records schedule and vital records protection programs for the government. Its headquarters is in the National Library of the Philippines, in Rizal Park, at T. M. Kalaw Avenue, Ermita, Manila. Information is from the Wikipedia page “National Archives of the Philippines”.15 Visit its website: www.nationalarchives.gov.ph
5The National Cultural Heritage Act is a law of the Republic of the Philippines which created the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property and took other steps to preserve historic buildings that are over 50 years old, signed into law on March 25, 2009, according to the Wikipedia page “National Cultural Heritage Act”.16
6The Cultural Properties of the Philippines refers to the cultural properties listed by the National Commission for Culture and Arts, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the National Museum of the Philippines through the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP), the official cultural property list of the country. Now, where did they get the names of such properties? Listen up, dearest Seniors! This raised my eyebrows to the max! All local government units (LGUs) are mandated to submit a partial/full list of their cultural properties, however, only 39 out of the 1,934 cities/municipalities in the country have submitted such as list as of November 2017! Information is from Wikipedia page “Cultural properties of the Philippines”.17 Talk about being proud of these properties – only 2% of LGUs complied!
8Dambana, in modern times, refers to a shrine of indigenous religions in the Philippines (mainly in the Tagalog areas), altar of Philippine churches, or monuments erected to remember Philippine history, according to the Wikipedia page “Dambana”.18
9“Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Philippines,”
10”List of National Cultural Treasures in the Philippines,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Cultural_Treasures_in_the_Philippines.
11The Qu’ran of Bayang, according to oral history, is Lanao’s oldest Koran which belonged to the Sultan of Bayang in Lanao del Sur and was copied by Saidna, one of the earliest hajji (one who successfully completed the pilgrimage to Mecca during Islam’s early days in the Philippines). It is one of the few copies translated into a non-Arabic language, i.e., using a language in the Malay family and handwritten in Arabic calligraphy.19
12“National Commission for Culture and Arts,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Commission_for_Culture_and_Arts.
13“National Museum of the Philippines,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Museum_of_the_Philippines.
14“National Library of the Philippines,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Library_of_the_Philippines.
15“National Archives of the Philippines,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Archives_of_the_Philippines.
16“National Cultural Heritage Act,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Cultural_Heritage_Act.
17“List of Cultural properties of the Philippines,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Cultural_properties_of_the_Philippines.
18“Dambana,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dambana.