Philippine Religious heritage highlights the observance of the International Day for Monuments and Sites in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – April 11, 2008     Members of ICOMOS Philippines (The International Council for Monuments and Sites) will lead the observance of the International Day for Monuments and Sites on Friday, April 18 with the theme “Religious Heritage and Sacred Places” to draw more attention to the sometimes vulnerable and fragile character of our places of worship.

Heritage Conservation advocates from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao will hold activities to draw public attention and support to efforts to protect our religious heritage by emphasizing how cooperation between private citizens, government and non-government organizations, foundations, religious groups and communities has produced many success stories throughout the country.

Among the successes in the Central Visayas are the on-going restoration of Boljo-on town’s 18th century Patrocino de Maria church, a national cultural treasure and national historical landmark located 100 kilometers southeast of Cebu City.

In the past few years, the local community and church parishioners have worked with the National Museum, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the National Historical Institute, the Cebu Provincial Tourism and Heritage Council, the Boljo-on Heritage Foundation and the Archdiocese of Cebu’s Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church to restore and preserve their church.

While in Dauis, Panglao Island, Bohol, the parish priest and parishioners of the Diocesan Shrine of the Assumption of Our Lady Parish with technical assistance from the Ayala Foundation’s Cultural Tourism program have started livelihood projects including the sale of their local products aimed specifically for the conservation and restoration of their entire church complex using a conservation master plan.

In 2005, they opened their convento gallery and sala as a venue for high-profile receptions and candlelit dinners with the green lawn behind the church used for cultural events. Since the start of their program, the townspeople themselves, foreign visitors to Panglao’s beach resorts and Tagbilaran City businesspeople have used their huge domed sala to live the Dauis lifestyle and to feast on the town’s famous cuisine prepared by parishioners.

While there are many successes, much work remains to safeguard religious heritage nationwide especially after a dawn fire destroyed Oslob, Cebu’s 19th century church and convento on March 27, 2008.

Architect Augusto F. Villalon, chair of ICOMOS Philippines said  “the Oslob fire demonstrates the fleeting permanence of heritage and brings the lesson home that its protection is essential and should be participated in by all sectors of society.”

Each year on April 18, each national ICOMOS committee celebrates the International Day for Monuments and Sites to bring international attention to the task of heritage conservation. Information about the International Day for Monuments and Sites is available at www.icomos.org and at the ICOMOS Philippines website www.icomosphilippin es.com.

ICOMOS is an international organization headquartered in Paris, France that regulates the conservation profession globally. It is the official UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) advisory body for matters on cultural or man-made heritage.

For more information contact:
Archt. Augusto F. Villalon
prideofplace@ gmail.com

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