Last September 15, a total of 48 young men and women completed Escuela Taller – Bohol’s one-year training program in traditional construction and conservation techniques for masonry, carpentry and wall finishing. This group of young people are now part of a unique pool of specialists and skilled workers in conservation aptly called Heritage Protectors. They can now be tapped to help conserve and restore the historical structures of Bohol that were ravaged by the 7.2 magnitude quake in 2013 and other heritage structures in the region that consistently demand conservation works through preventive maintenance. They will be soon be part of the rehabilitation efforts within the Santa Cruz Parish Complex in Maribojoc. The restoration of the church’s retablo, the repairs of the stone steps leading to the rear side of the church and the restoration of the old convent are among the many projects included in their list of future undertakings.
According to ET Executive Director Carmen Bettina Bulaong, “Escuela Taller’s mission in Bohol is to equip the local youth with skills related to the conservation of built heritage. This new skill set is not simply a means of livelihood for these young men and women. It is their opportunity, as members of a community, to actively participate in safeguarding the legacy of a culture that they are so much a part of. This is our shared mission with other Escuelas Taller in Spain, North Africa and Latin America.” In fact to ensure the quality of their training, ET has sent its finest graduates from Manila to become instructors in the various trades and workshop areas that were established as a response to massive damage due to the earthquake in October 2013.
Escuela Taller in Intramuros was among the first organized groups who conducted emergency response by conducting the assessment and documentation of the damage caused by the earthquake. Eventually, ET’s first satellite training program, which was participated in by 28 young Boholanos, was organized through the support of the Ayala Foundation. The training involved the restoration of the Dauis WatchTower as the “learn-by-doing” project of the trainees. The Dauis church complex, where the watchtower stands, is a declared National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum and a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
After the satellite training program in Dauis and the completion of the Dauis Watch Tower, Escuela Taller established its center for training in Maribojoc Church Complex through the support of Senator Loren Legarda and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Among the special guests graced this momentous event were Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., who is the former Mayor of Maribojoc, the Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Luis Antonio Calvo and NCCA Executive Director, Rico Pableo Jr.