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Nurturing heritage sites

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The eight sites submitted by the Philippine delegation to be included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) tentative list of World Heritage sites include the sugar cultural landscape of Negros and Panay, the historic towns and landscape of Taal Volcano and its caldera lake, the colonial urban plan and fortifications of the Walled City of Manila, the Agusan March wildlife sanctuary, the Kitanglad and Kalatungan Mountain Ranges: Sacred Sites of Bukidnon, the Samar Island natural park, the extension of the Cordillera rice terraces, and the extension of the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary – Pujada Bay.

According to UNESCO, world heritage sites are “places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity, and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.”

The Philippines sought the inclusion of the new potential heritage sites on February 2, but there are 16 more pending Philippine sites in the lists for 2015, 2006, and 1993.

The Philippines currently has six properties inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list, namely the Baroque churches of the Philippines, the historic city of Vigan, the Cordillera rice terraces, the Mt. Hamiguitan Range wildlife sanctuary, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, and the Tubbataha Reefs natural park.

Sites or properties that make the list will benefit greatly from being recognized, as it improves awareness and protections, and at the same time, increases tourism. If properly and sustainably managed, such sites could provide immense value, not only to Filipinos, but humanity as well.

The inclusion of the sugar cultural landscape in Negros and Panay as among those to be listed as World Heritage sites is only the beginning of a long process that will need the cooperation of government and private sector if it is to become a reality, as it is easy to take for granted for those of us who have always been aware of its value, but have never really put in the effort to protect, promote, and sustain that unique cultural property for future generations of humanity to enjoy.

Hopefully those involved in making that dream a reality have already put in the work, so UNESCO can easily see the value of our heritage site and include it in its list, which should provide even more momentum for us to see its value even more.*

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