EDITORIAL - Custodians of heritage
(The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2015 - 10:00am

The effort to preserve Intramuros has earned a special award, but the Walled City can use a major facelift to be even more worthy of the recognition conferred by the Association of Heritage Cities of Spain. This year the group’s Heritage Award goes to the Intramuros Administration for its efforts to preserve what’s left of Manila’s Walled City.

What’s left has been marred by informal settlements and unregulated construction, pollution and neglect. Some Spanish-era structures that can be restored lie abandoned. Other countries that have preserved similar areas have earned World Heritage recognition for their sites from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Vigan has done a better job of preserving its Spanish colonial era neighborhoods and promoting local culture; the Ilocos city is one of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines and is one of the country’s top travel destinations.

Intramuros, with its unique history, can be transformed into something similar. It is the only enclave of its kind in Metro Manila and it can be developed into an ideal destination for travelers who want to see something more than shopping malls when visiting the nation’s capital. Several groups have been working along this line, but the necessary political support has always been weak or missing.

Perhaps the recognition from the former colonial power that built Intramuros will spur the government into intensifying efforts to save the Walled City. The Intramuros Administration, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism, implements projects through the Escuella Taller de Intramuros, an initiative of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation. Last month, mayors of 15 heritage cities in Spain decided at a meeting to give the award to the Intramuros Administration.

At least the Spaniards recognize the importance of preserving Intramuros as a Philippine treasure. Preservation efforts will receive a substantial boost if there is political will and support from those who consider it the duty of Filipinos to serve as custodians of the nation’s heritage.

 

 

 

ACIRC ASSOCIATION OF HERITAGE CITIES OF SPAIN DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM ESCUELLA TALLER HERITAGE AWARD INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION INTRAMUROS INTRAMUROS ADMINISTRATION METRO MANILA SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION WALLED CITY
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