Towards a Heritage of Resilience

On June 18 to 21, 2019, heritage stakeholders from across the Philippines gathered in a rare occasion to level up their knowledge and capacity as frontline guardians of the country’s fragile cultural patrimony amidst increasing risks of worse impact from severe disasters. The event was organized by the Santo Nino de Cebu Augustinian Social Development Foundation, Inc. (SNAF), the social development arm of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Philippine Augustinians, in pursuit of the Augustinian cultural legacy to promote knowledge production from the conservation of both tangible and intangible cultural treasures for the good of future generations. It was held under the auspices of the Philippine government’s National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) at the Santo Nino de Cebu Spirituality Center, in Brgy.Tolo-Tolo, Consolacion, Cebu, in whose tranquil ambience participants discerned of improving preparedness and response, as well as mitigation and rehabilitation in times of disasters.

The occasion provided a platform for enriched dialogue among the Church, government and private sectors on preservation of cultural properties and enabling their human resource at disaster-risk reduction and management. Administrators of religious heritage sites discussed vulnerabilities to various hazards, evaluated challenges and identified solutions to achieving resiliency and managing risks. Curators and focal persons of heritage museums and historical sites managed by parishes, schools and local government units shared their best practices and accepted better alternatives. Representatives from environment-focused and heritage- thematic programs of the Archdiocese of Cebu, and tourism-oriented departments of the government at the municipal, provincial and regional levels provided unique vista.

The four-day Seminar-Workshop dubbed, “Creating Resilience on People and Cultural Properties towards National Well-Being,” strove to merge resiliency impetus in the context of preservation, protection and rehabilitation of heritage sites, objects and resources, including population-at-risk. It sought to institute principles of disaster risk-reduction and management to heritage conservation and rehabilitation. Beyond objects, however, it wanted to address gaps in the knowledge, skills and technical capabilities of heritage stakeholders at responding more effectively to their specific concerns.

It concluded by achieving this and more. It enhanced the understanding of disaster preparedness framework and disaster response through warning and evacuation systems. It also improved on knowledge of damage-needs-and-loss assessment process, especially recovery planning for funding requirements. Thus, it was able to facilitate the formulation of specific plans and desired goals responsive to corresponding needs in prevailing local conditions of a particular cultural property and historic site. It also fostered bonds of solidarity among stakeholders to better promote Filipino heritage by protecting our common home for the common good.