Bohol, Samar churches removed from Unesco World Heritage nomination | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

LOBOC Church in the aftermath of the Oct. 15, 2013 quake. PHOTOS BY SHERWIN MARION T. VARDELEON
LOBOC Church in the aftermath of the Oct. 15, 2013 quake. PHOTOS BY SHERWIN MARION T. VARDELEON
BACLAYON Church now under repair; the earthquake destroyed its belfry and façade.

The good news is that more Philippine structures and sites are eyed for inscription on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).


The bad news is that several ancient churches in Bohol and Samar that have been damaged either by the earthquake or  super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) last year have been removed from the list.


Fresh from the inscription of Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary as the country’s newest World Heritage Site, the Unesco National Commission of the Philippines (Unacom) has updated its World Heritage Tentative List.


In a recent five-day event, Moving Forward: World Heritage and Biosphere Nomination Workshop, hosted by the Heritage City of Vigan and organized by Unacom and the University of Santo Tomas Graduate School – Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics (USTGS-CCCPET), the Tentative List (TL) was updated.


The last update was made in 2005, said architect and Unesco Philippines Commissioner Mico Manalo.


SAN AGUSTIN Church at present

“The Tentative List is the springboard [for nomination]. From there, the nomination will be given for inscription for World Heritage List,” said Manalo, who is also chair of Unacom’s Culture Committee.


He said Unacom could help the suggested sites through guidance, the sharing of know-how, and preparing the nomination dossiers.


Participated by site managers all over the country, the convention also aimed to monitor the state of conservation of World Heritage Sites in the country, said USTGS-CCCPET director and Unacom commissioner Eric B. Zerrudo.


The country’s declared World Heritage Sites are Vigan (1992); Baroque Churches (1993); Tubbataha Reefs National Park (1993); Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera (1995); Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (2009); and Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (2014).


Updated List



Following is the updated list of nominees in the Cultural, Natural, and Mixed Sites categories.


Cultural: Church Complex of Boljoon (Cebu); Maragondon Church (Cavite); Lazi Church (Siquijor); Tumauini Church (Isabela); San Sebastian Church (Manila); Butuan Archaeological Sites (Butuan); Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves (Benguet); Neolithic Shell Midden Sites of Lal-lo and Gattaran Municipalities (Cagayan); Paleolithic Archaeological Sites (Cagayan Valley); Petroglyphs and Petrographs of the Philippines; Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines; and Tabon Cave Complex and all of Lipuun Point (Palawan).


Natural: Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (Agusan del Sur); Chocolate Hills Natural Monument (Bohol); Liguasan Marsh (Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato); Mount Matutum Protected Landscape (South Cotabato, Saranggani Province); Mount Malindang Range Natural Park (Misamis Occidental); Mount Pulag national Park (Benguet, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya); Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary (Sulu); Apo Reef National Park (Occidental Mindoro); El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Area (Palawan); Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park (Oriental and Occidental Mindoro); Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (Isabela, Aurora); Batanes Protected Landscapes and Seascapes (Batanes); Mount Matalingahan (Palawan); and Mount Kitanglad (Bukidnon).


TUMAUINI Church façade

Mixed: Mount Mayon and Cagsawa Ruins (Albay); and Coron Island Natural Biotic Area (Palawan).


Sites dropped due to the damages caused by last year’s earthquake and typhoon are Loboc Church (Bohol); Baclayon Church (Bohol); and Guiuan Church (Eastern Samar).


The Maranao Settlement of Tugaya, Lanao del Sur, was suggested to be included instead on the intangible cultural-heritage list.


Stringent process


The sites, said Zerrudo, undergo a stringent process upon review; and some would have a hard time meeting the criteria set by the World Heritage Committee (WHC).


WORKER atop San Agustin Church in 2010

Among those dropped are Taal Volcano Protected Landscape (Batangas); Panglao Island (Bohol); and Mount Apo Natural Park (Davao del Sur, North Cotabato).


The conditions of these sites during the last update in 2005 are different from now, said Zerrudo, who’s also a faculty member of the UST Graduate School’s Heritage Studies program.


Zerrudo emphasized that there were strict WHC requirements on local ordinances and conservation.


The contexts of the sites have changed from their condition nine years ago due to pollution and the building of structures that have affected their authenticity and integrity, Zerrudo explained.


Another review by the Unacom may pare down the TL further, he added.

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