Seniors, Now You Know: WHAT ARE THE WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

We have always heard of the term World Heritage Site, but do we really know what it is all about and how it is selected? And, do we know the World Heritage sites in the Philippines? Well, look and wonder no more!

WHAT IS A WORLD HERITAGE SITE? HOW IS IT SELECTED?

A World Heritage Site (WHS) is a unique landmark, or geographically and historically identifiable place, which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific, physical or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties.

Sites are demarcated by UNESCO as protected zones. The list is maintained by the International World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 state parties which are elected by the General Assembly. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund.

As of July 2018, there are a total of 1,092 World Heritage sites across 167 countries (845 cultural, 209 natural, and 38 mixed properties). The top countries with the most sites are: Italy (54), China (53), Spain (47), France (44), Germany (44), India (37), and Mexico (35).

But how is a site selected? UNESCO mandates a nomination process. It starts when a country lists its significant cultural and natural sites to form a Tentative List. It can then place sites selected from that list into a Nomination File which is evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the World Conservation Union. These bodies then make their recommendations to the World Heritage Committee. The Committee meets once a year to determine whether or not to inscribe each nominated property on the World Heritage List, and sometimes defers or refers the decision to request more information from the country that nominated the site.

Wow! Sites are well screened.and countries should be really proud of their World Heritage sites and protect/preserve them!

There are 10 selection criteria and a site must meet at least one of them to be included in the list:

CULTURAL CRITERIA:

  1. It represents a masterpiece of human creative genius and cultural significance;
  2. It exhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of time, or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning, or landscape design;
  3. It bears a unique, or at least, exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition, or to a civilization which is living, or which has disappeared;
  4. It is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural, or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history;
  5. It is an outstanding example of a type of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture, or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
  6. It is directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literally works of outstanding universal significance;

NATURAL CRITERIA:

  1. It contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
  2. It is an outstanding example representing major stages of Earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
  3. It is an outstanding example representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems, and communities of plants and animals; and,
  4. It contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

All information were obtained from the Wikipedia page “World Heritage site”.1

WHO CAN NOMINATE SITES TO BE WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts, National Museum of the Philippines, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and other heritage agencies, are the prime nominators of the Philippines. The permanent Delegation of the Philippines to UNESCO, universities and NGOs can also nominate sites in the Tentative List.

I am just wondering why it took so long for the Philippines to have sites declared as such. Here is what I found out: in the 1990s, Filipino architect Augusto Villalon represented the Philippines in the UNESCO Committee and drafted the nomination dossiers of five heritage inscriptions, and all of them were declared as UNESCO World Heritage sites from 1993 to 1999 (see list below). However, after Villalon retired, the country had a 14-year drought in UNESCO World Heritage designations. Since 2014, six sites have been on the World Heritage site list, spanning nine locations: three are cultural and three are natural. In 2015, 28 sites in the Tentative List were revised, with 9 submissions for possible nomination in the future.

All information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of World Heritage sites in the Philippines”.2

WHAT ARE THE WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

Filipinos, be proud, we have six World Heritage sites and I will list them in order of recognition:

  1. 16th century Baroque Churches of the Philippines: San Agustin Church (City of Manila), Santa Maria Church (Ilocos Sur), Paoay Church (Ilocos Norte), and Miagao Church (Iloilo) – inscription: 1993; minor boundary modification: 2013, based on cultural criteria 2 and 4 (see previous topic). All four churches have been declared National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines3.

BeFunky-collage(l-r): Miagao Church, Paoay Church, San Agustin Church and Santa Maria Church (photographers: Wowleology and Patrick Roque, featured at http://www.en.wikipedia.org)

2. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (Palawan) -inscription: 1993; extension: 2009, based on natural criteria 7, 9 and 10 (see previous topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4. It is one of the New7Wonders of Nature5, an ASEAN Heritage Park6, and a Ramsar Wetland Site7. It is also located within the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Resesrve8.

BeFunky-collage Tubbataha Reef (photographers: Nikswieweg, Ron Van Oers and Jun V Lao, featured at http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tubbataha_Reef)

3. Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras – inscription: 1995, based on cultural criteria 3, 4 and 5 (see previous topic). It is located in the Ifugao province of the Cordillera Region and dates back to 100 BC. The inscription includes 5 properties: the Bangaan Rice Terraces, Batad Rice Terraces (both in Banaue), Hungduan Rice Terraces (in Hungduan), Mayoyao Rice Terraces (in Mayoyao), and Nagacadan Rice Terraces (in Kiangan). These rice terraces have been declared as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines3.

BeFunky-collageBatad Rice Terraces in Banaue and Nagacadan Rice Terraces in Kiangan (photographers: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas and Shubert Ciencia, featured at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice_Terraces_of_the_Philippine_Cordilleras)

4. The Historic City of Vigan (Ilocos Sur) – inscription: 1999, based on cultural criteria 2 and 4 (see previous topic). This 16th century site is one of the New7Wonders Cities9. The Mestizo Section, House of Father Jose Burgos10 and Leona Florentino11 have been declared as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines3.

Calle_Crisologo,_Vigan_City-wikiCalle Crisologo, Vigan (photographer: Joelaldor,  http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigan)

5. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Palawan) – inscription: 1999, based on natural criteria 7 and 10 (see previous topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4. It is part of the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve8 and a declared Ramsar Wetland Site7.

puerto-princesa-underground-river-wikiPuerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan; photo from http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_Princesa_Subterranean_River_National_Park

6. Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (Davao Oriental) – inscription: 2014, based on natural criteria 10 (see previous topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4. It is declared as an ASEAN Heritage Park6.

mt-hamiguitan-wikiMount Hamiguitan inDavao Oriental; photo from http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Hamiguitan

Perhaps, if you have not yet visited the aforementioned sites, why don’t you include these in your 2019 bucket list?

All information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of World Heritage sites in the Philippines”.2

THE TENTATIVE LIST FOR THE PHILIPPINES

There are 19 sites that are included in the Tentative List for the Philippines for the Philippine government to nominate as WHSs in the future:2

  1. Apo Reef National Park (Sulu Sea), based on natural criteria 7, 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4. This site is the second biggest producer of juvenile marine fishes in the world, next to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.
  2. Baroques Churches of the Philippines (extension), based on cultural criteria 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 (see criteria topic). – Boljoon Church (Cebu), Guiuan Church (Eastern Samar), Lazi Church (Siquijor), Loboc Church (Bohol), and Tumauini Church (Isabela) – All five 18th to 19th century baroque churches have been declared as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines3.
  3. Batanes Protected landscapes and seascapes (mixed criteria, see criteria topic) – It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epochand 100 AD. The Mahatao Church of Batanes is a declared National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines3.
  4. Butuan Archeological Sites (Agusan del Norte), based on cultural criteria 3, 4 and 5 (see criteria topic). This 10th century site showcases the pre-Hispanic Rajahnate of Butuan12 as a nation with great expertise in boat-making, seafaring, and gold manufacturing.
  5. Chocolate Hills Natural Monument (Bohol), based on natural criteria 6 and 7 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4and is the focal property of the proposed Bohol Global Geopark Reserve.
  6. Coron Island Natural Biotic Area (Palawan), based on cultural criteria 3 and natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is part of the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve8.
  7. El Nido – Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area, based on natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4 and is within the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve8.
  8. Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves (Benguet), based on cultural criteria 1 – 6 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since 100 AD and has been listed by the World Monuments Fund13 for immediate international conservation. It is also declared as a National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines3.
  9. Mayon Volcano Natural Park (Albay), based on natural criteria 7 and 10 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Pleistocene Epochand is the central property of the Albay UNESCO Biosphere Reserve8.
  10. Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park (Mindoro), based on natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4and is a declared ASEAN Heritage Park6.
  11. Mount Malindang Range Natural Park (Misamis Occidental), based on natural criteria 7, 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Pleistocene Epochand is a declared ASEAN Heritage Park6.
  12. Mount Mantalingajan Protected Landscape (Palawan), based on natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4 and is part of the Palawan UNESCO Biosphere Reserve8.
  13. Mount Pulag National Park (Ifugao, Nueva Viscaya and Benguet), based on natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4 and is the third highest point in the Philippines.
  14. Neolithic Shell Midden Sites in Lal-lo and Gattaran Municipalities (Cagayan), based on cultural criteria 2 – 5 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Neolithic Period14 and is the largest shell midden15 zone in the Philippine archipelago.
  15. Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park and outlying areas inclusive of the buffer zone (Isabela), based on natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4 and is the largest national park in the Philippines.
  16. Paleolithic Archaeological Sites in Cagayan Valley – Awidon Mesa Formation Paleolithic Sites of Solana in Cagayan Province and the Callao Limestone Formation Paleolithic Sites of Peñablanca in Cagayan Province, based on cultural criteria 2 – 5 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Paleolithic Period16 and includes the location where the bone fragments of Callao Man, the oldest hominid17 found in the Philippines, was located.
  17. Petroglyphs18 and Petrographs19of the Philippines – Alab Petroglyphs of Mountain ProvinceAnda Peninsula Petrographs of Eastern BoholAngono Petroglyphs of Rizal, Peñablanca Petrographs of Cagayan Province, and Singnapan Caves Petrographs of southern Palawan, based on cultural criteria 3 (see criteria topic). These multiple sites have been in existence since the Paleolithic Period16. The Alab, Angono and Singnapan sites have been declared as National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines3. The site in Angono has been listed by World Monuments Fund13.
  18. The Tabon Cave Complex and all of Lipuun (Palawan), based on cultural criteria 2 – 5 (see criteria topic). This site has been in existence since the Paleolithic Period16 and is a declared National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines3 due to the Tabon Man20 discovery in the area. It was listed by the World Monuments Fund13.
  19. Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary (Tawi-Tawi), based on natural criteria 9 and 10 (see criteria topic). It is said to have been in existence since the Pleistocene Epoch4 and is a major green sea turtle breeding and hatchery zone in the Asia-Pacific.

Another wow! These are 19 possible additions to our local travel bucket list!

The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of World Heritage sites in the Philippines”.2

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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:

1“World Heritage site,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Heritage_site.

2“List of World Heritage sites in the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Heritage_sites_in_the_Philippines.

3A National Cultural Treasure (NCT) of the Philippines is a unique tangible (movable and immovable) or intangible cultural property found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is highly significant and important to the country and nation, declared by the National Commission for Culture and Arts and other cultural agencies such as the National Museum of the Philippines, National Library of the Philippines, and National Archives of the Philippines, authorized under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 and recognized within the Cultural Properties of the Philippines by the Philippine government. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of National Cultural Treasures in the Philippines”.21

4Pleistocene Epoch, or Ice Age, is the geological epoch from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the world’s most recent period of repeated glaciations, according to the Wikipedia page “Pleistocene”.22

5New7Wonders of Nature (2007-2011) was an initiative led by Bernard Weber who organized the New 7 Wonders Foundation, and attracted 100 million voters worldwide to create a list of seven new natural wonders:  the Amazon Rainforest and River (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuaodr, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela), Halong Bay (Vietnam), Jeju Island (South Korea), Iguazú (Argentina/Brazil), Puerto Pricesa Subterranean River National Park (Philippines), Komodo Island (Indonesia), and Table Mountain (South Africa), according to Wikipedia page “New7Wonders of Nature”.23

6The Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Heritage Park is a project of the ASEAN Ministers of Environment to list heritage parks in the region of particular biodiversity importance or exceptional uniqueness among member states, to implement regional conservation and management action plans. Thirty-seven ASEAN Heritage Parks have been designated since the last inscription in November 2015. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “ASEAN Heritage Parks”.24

7Ramsar Wetland Site is a wetland recognized for its economic, cultural, scientific and recreational value, based on the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, signed in the city of Ramsar, in Iran, in 1971, according to Wikipedia page “List of Ramsar sites in the Philippines”.25

8Biosphere Reserve is an internationally recognized area comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, nominated by a national government to the Man and Biosphere Programme, an intergovernmental program, launched in 1971 by the United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), according to the Wikipedia page “Man and the Biosphere Programme”.26

9New7Wonders Cities (2011-2014) was another initiative led by Bernard Weber who organized the New 7 Wonders Foundation, and attracted voters worldwide to create a list of seven cities which best represent the achievements and aspirations of our global urban civilization: Beirut (Lebanon), Doha (Qatar), Durban (South Africa), Havana (Cuba), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), La Paz (Bolivia), and Vigan (Philippines). This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “New7Wonders Cities”.27

10Fr. Jose Burgos (1837-1872) was a Filipino Catholic priest who was accused of mutiny by the Spanish colonial authorities, underwent a mock trial, and was executed in Manila, along with two other clergymen, according to the Wikipedia page “Jose Burgos”.28

11Leona Florentino (1849-1884) was a Filipino poet in the Spanish and Ilocano languages, considered “the mother of Philippine women’s literature” and the “bridge from oral to literary tradition,” according to the Wikipedia page “Leona Florentino”.29

12The Rajahnate of Butuan (before 1001-1756) was an Indic polity30 centered on present Mindanao island in the modern city of Butuan, in southern Philippines. It was known for gold mining, gold products, and its extensive trade network across the Nusantara area31, with trading relationships with the ancient civilizations of Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Persia and Thailand. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Rajahnate of Butuan”.32

13World Monuments Fund is a private, international, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic architecture and cultural heritage sites around the world through fieldwork, advocacy, grantmaking, education, and training, according to the Wikipedia page “World Monuments Fund”.33

14The Neolithic Period (around 8000 – 2000 BC), or New Stone Age, is the period of the Stone Age which started in the Middle East, characterized by the development of agriculture, pottery, and the making of polished stone implements.34

15Shell middens are places where debris from eating shellfish (clams, oysters, whelks, mussels) and other food has accumulated over time, found on the coast, inland lakes, swamps, and river banks, indicative of Aboriginal activities in the past. They can contain: shellfish remains; bones of fish, birds, and land and sea mammals used for food; charcoal from campfires; and, tools made from stone, shell and bone.35

16The Paleolithic Period, or Old Stone Age (2.6 million – 10,000 years ago), is the period in human prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone tools, with humans living a nomadic lifestyle in small groups, and their survival depended heavily on their environment and climate.36

17A hominid is a primate of a family (Hominidae) of erect bipedal primate mammals that includes humans, their fossil ancestors and some of the great apes (the orangutan, gorilla, chimpanzee and bonobo).37

18Petroglyphs are images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, or abrading, as a form of rock art, often associated with prehistoric people, according to the Wikipedia page “Petroglyph”.38

19Petrographs are drawings, writings, or inscriptions on stone, as a painting on a cave wall.39

20Tabon Man refers to collective remains discovered by Robert B. Fox, an American anthropologist of the national Museum of the Philippines, in the Tabon Caves in Lipuun Point in the municipality of Quezon, in the west coast of the province of Palawan, in the Philippines, on May 28, 1962. The remains, the fossilized fragments of a skull and jawbone of three individuals, were believed to be one of the earliest human remains known in the Philippines which date back to 16,500 years ago. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tabon Man”.40

21“List of National Cultural Treasures in the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Cultural_Treasures_in_the_Philippines.

22 “Pleistocene,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleistocene.

23“New7Wonders of Nature,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New7Wonders_of_Nature.

24“ASEAN Heritage Parks,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASEAN_Heritage_Parks.

25“List of Ramsar sites in the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ramsar_sites_in_the_Philippines.

26“Man and the Biosphere Programme,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_and_Biosphere_Programme.

27“New7Wonders Cities,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New7Wonders_Cities.

28“Jose Burgos,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jose_Burgos.

29“Leona Florentino,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leona_Florentino.

30Indic polity refers to traditional Southeast Asian political formations, such as federation of kingdoms under a center of domination, according to the Wikipedia page “Mandala (political model)”.41

31The Nusantara area, or Maritime Southeast Asia, is the local Malayo-Polynesian name for the region which consists of what is now Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Timor Leste. This information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Maritime Southeast Asia”.42

32“Rajahnate of Butuan,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajahnate_of_Butuan.

33 “World Monuments Fund,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Monuments_Fund.

34www.ancient.eu and www.yourdictionary.com

35www.environment.nsw.gov.au

36www.diffen.com

37www.merriam-webster.com

38 “Petroglyph,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroglyph.

39www.en.m.wiktionary.org

40“Tabon Man,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabon_Man.

41“Mandala (political model),” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandala_(political_model).

42“Maritime Southeast Asia,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maritime_Aouthwast_Asia.

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