The practice of Architectural Heritage Conservation in the Philippines is still in its infancy stages. Despite the experiences of great damage and massive reconstruction during the aftermath of the World War II, as well as the restoration efforts of the 70s and early 80s, there is a slow advancement in the industry of tangible heritage conservation, protection and recuperation. This stunted development may be attributed to the lack of technical expertise and specialization in the said field. There is also a lack of research and dissemination of knowledge that could help minimize the number of anomalies and mistakes in the interventions that have been performed on such important cultural properties in the last decades that have led to their loss or total destruction.
In the aftermath of the relatively recent disasters that have affected the Philippines, particularly the earthquake and storm surge that have affected the Visayan region, the recent earth- quakes in the province of Batangas, Pampanga and Batanes, as well as the man-made disasters due to conflicts in Mindanao, there are extensive damages to important religious and civic structures and their contents. These natural and man-made disasters have served as a wake- up call regarding the need to address the need to proactively safeguard and protect our heritage resources. This can be achieved through increased public awareness and participation, proper legislation, and increased technical know-how pertaining to the conservation and protection of these cultural assets.
As the premier academic institution of the country, the University of the Philippines has proven its capacities to conduct research and to disseminate new knowledge to the general public. It is thus positioned to contribute to the development of the practice of architectural heritage conservation through the College of Architecture’s research work. The new knowledge that can be gained as a result from these research endeavors can help inform the industry of heritage conservation.
The Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation, Inc., on the other hand, is a Foundation organized on initiative of the Philippine and Spanish governments, respectively through the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Agencia Española de Cooperacion International para el Desarrollo (AECID), to train out-of-school youth employing a specialized learning-by-doing method in masonry, carpentry, woodworking, and related skills needed for the conservation of Philippine tangible heritage. Due to its mission of skills transfer, it has become one of the main actors in the heritage conservation space that aims to improve the quality of conservation practices and services through research and dissemination.
Through this collaborative project that deals with research, publications and conferences, the University of the Philippines College of Architecture and the Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation, Inc. intends to bridge the gap between theory and practice to ensure a solid foundation for the development of systems, standards, policies and guidelines for the conservation of our built heritage. It is the intention that this project will lead to a continuous collaboration between the two Parties and perhaps with other institutions that share the same interest and advocacy, so that research, publications and conferences shall be organised annually.
The International Research Conference on Moveable and Immoveable Heritage entitled Pamanaliksik was held last August 29-30, 2019 at the UP College of Architecture, University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus. The two-day international conference was followed by a whole-day tour on August 31, 2019 of Escuela Taller facilities, as well as important heritage sites within Manila.
This two-day research conference and educational day-tour was jointly organized by the Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation, Inc. (ETFFI) and the University of the Philippines College of Architecture (UPCA), with the support of the Escuela Taller Council of Founders, namely, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Intramuros Administration (IA), and the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID).
The international research conference and educational day-tour were the culminating activities of a collaborative research project between the ETFFI and UPCA. Research papers jointly prepared by the research teams composed of the ETFFI Technical Team members and the faculty of the UPCA about the conservation of moveable and immoveable heritage in the Philippines were presented during the conference.