Latest Stories

Pride of Place

Unesco cites Vigan, Banawe Rice Terraces for heritage achievements


TOP: TRUE TO the Ifugao spirit, the local community reclaimed possession of their rice terraces, found the balance between tradition and contemporary culture, and worked out a system of maintenance that resulted in the removal of the terraces from theWorld Heritage in Danger List. Above: Vigan has found the balance between heritage and community development. It has been recognized as Best Conservation Practice winner among 28 other international entries to the Unesco search for Best Conservation Practice amongWorld Heritage Cities.

Year 2012 is a banner year for the Philippines in conservation and management of World Heritage properties.

Last month, the Unesco World Heritage Center announced in Paris that the Historic City of Vigan won the highest award for the Best Conservation Management of World Heritage Properties.

Last June, the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera was removed from the World Heritage in Danger List, with high recognition being given to the Ifugao community by the members of the World Heritage Committee during its 36th Annual Session in St Petersburg, Russian Federation.

The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera, a World Heritage property composed of five terrace-clusters in Ifugao province, had been placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of the site’s deterioration over the years due to overlapping factors, including weak management systems; conflict between traditional and 20th-century agricultural and cultural practices, which resulted in neglected irrigation and the degradation of the terraces.

The criteria for the decision to remove the property from the In Danger List included successful site restoration and conservation, as well as planning and proper management.

Most significantly, members of the World Heritage Committee warmly applauded the Ifugao community which worked closely to save their terraces with the local government, the private sector, and with some assistance from the international community.

The rice terraces were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1995 as an “extraordinary example of an evolved, living cultural landscape,” terraces carved by Ifugaos following steep mountain contours, a tradition still retained today after centuries of use.

The terraces today are “the fruit of knowledge handed down from one generation to the next, and the expression of sacred traditions and a delicate social balance.”

Outstanding is the role of the Ifugao people in the conservation process of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera that was done mostly through local, community-based effort and stakeholder participation.

Most excellent

The Historic City of Vigan, one of five Philippine properties inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List, received the highest award in the Best Conservation Management of World Heritage Properties, a special award given by Unesco to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention in 2012.

A 10-member selection committee, consisting of experts from the World Heritage Center, representatives of Unesco regional groups, Icomos and Iccrom (advisory bodies to the World Heritage Center), that examined all the submissions according to the established criteria, acknowledged Vigan as most excellent among submissions from 28 countries.

Vigan was cited for its good management practice achieved with relatively limited resources; integration of the local community into many aspects of the sustainable conservation and property management; development of an interesting multifaceted approach to site protection.

“The judges did not only focus on conservation of the city but also the total development of the city, which envelops tourism, water, environment protection and other aspects,” said Vigan Mayor Evan Marie Singson Medina, who will receive the city’s award during the World Heritage 40th-anniversary celebrations in Kyoto on Nov. 8.

Vigan, established in the 16th century, was inscribed on the World Heritage List as the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia.

“Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia,” states the World Heritage inscription.

Among the outstanding values of Vigan which merited its inscription as a World Heritage property is that the city represents a unique fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning.

State of pressure

Outstanding is the fact that both conservation achievements were the result of work and commitment from the resident communities of both properties, which aware of the value of their heritage, worked together with local government, private entities and NGOs, and which directed foreign interventions toward their specific needs.

Outstanding, too, is the fact that both properties achieved internationally acclaimed conservation standards with extremely limited budgets.

The Philippine Committee of International Council of Monuments and Sites (Icomos) hosts the Cultural Tourism for Community Development Conference in Vigan on Nov. 5-10, an event made even more significant that Unesco has recognized Vigan as a global leader in community-led conservation.

The international community acknowledges the Philippines for leading the way in community-based conservation. At the Vigan conference, the Department of Foreign Affairs has invited participants from developing countries to learn from the Philippines how to introduce to local communities that heritage is an unrecognized driver for development.

With the constant state of pressure that Philippine heritage is in, knowing that we have done something (two things, actually—Ifugao and Vigan) right has brought international honor to the professionals who work in conserving our heritage.

Congratulations to all who have worked in the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera and in the Historic City of Vigan.

E-mail the author pride.place@gmail.com.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Banawe Rice Terraces , Heritage , Lifestyle , Unicef , Vigan

  • msm25

    manila herself could have been preserved too…we should have given her equal treatment too…kung di lang naglipana ang santambak na taga probinsiya at mga illegal chinese immigrants…nasira na maynila…at iilan nalangang may paki…escolta alone was a rich part of our culture and economy…if only manila was preserved like the rest of the cities in the world…i miss the old manila…

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. How to enjoy Buntod
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  5. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  6. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  7. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  8. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  9. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  10. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • Smooth Edsa ride up in 2 years, but…
  • Obama: US will defend Japan vs China
  • Santiago accuses Lacson of fronting for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Name names, Lacson told
  • Ukraine FM: We are ready to fight Russia
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Denims that keep you cool–literally
  • Entertainment

  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • OMB exec’s assurance: We work 24/7
  • Business

  • Nielsen sees car buying boom in the Philippines
  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Gaming stocks gain, PSEi eases on profit-taking
  • Cebu Pacific flew 3.74M passengers as of March
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • Senator hopes PH will also get same vow
  • HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  • US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology