January 21, 2013

EXCLUSIVE | Conservation experts aghast at Paoay Church 'desecration'

International cultural tourism experts have taken issue with the apparent 'desecration' of Paoay Church. In their visit to the church last November, they saw ongoing construction of an arcade in a designated buffer zone, and the improper landscaping and construction in the core zone. (Photo copyright owned by this blogger)

International cultural tourism experts decried the apparent “desecration” of the Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, with one noted local heritage conservation advocate laying the blame squarely on the local government’s shoulders. 

This developed even as the community-based conservation projects in the Philippines were finally getting international recognition, thus raising its chances of attracting even more tourists. The Department of Tourism is eyeing 10 million tourist arrivals by 2016, by the time President Aquino steps down from office. 

In June, the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World Heritage Center finally removed the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras from its World Heritage in Danger List. Last October, the same UN body awarded Vigan, Ilocos Sur with the Best Conservation Management of World Heritage Properties award. 

The Rice Terraces became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1995, while Vigan, with its well-preserved Spanish-era city architecture, was inscribed on the list in 1999. 

“With the Unesco award for the City of Vigan and the delisting of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras from the list of World Heritage in Danger, the Philippines is now a trailblazer in community-based conservation worldwide,” said travel blogger and heritage conservation advocate Ivan Anthony Henares in an interview with InterAksyon.com. (Read the rest here. This piece was published on Dec. 30, 2012.)

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