QUEZON CITY (PIA) -- The Senate of the Philippines on Monday, March 20, approved on third reading Senate Bill No. 1841, or the Cultural Mapping Bill with 22 affirmative votes and zero negative votes.
The measure proposed by Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda aims to enhance the preservation of the Philippines' cultural assets through increased participation and involvement of local government units and communities.
"Culture is the narrative that binds us as a nation, and we owe it to our ancestors and heroes who built the Philippines as it is today. It is important to protect our way of living and heritage that we will also pass on to our children and our children's children," Sen. Legarda said.
SB 1841 seeks to revise Republic Act No. 10066, or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 to mandate the LGUs to conduct a cultural heritage mapping of their areas for both tangible and intangible, and natural and built heritage, and to address new threats from a fast-changing cultural landscape brought about by a tidal wave of digital transformation.
"The institutionalization of cultural mapping is a way to make heritage an inclusive tool for local and national development. Cultural mapping employs a grassroots approach that empowers local communities to identify and assign cultural value to important properties," she added.
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and other cultural agencies and organizations in the country are delegated to provide technical and financial assistance to LGUs to comply with the cultural mapping mandate.
Among the requirements is the submission of Local Cultural Inventories (LCI), which will be included in the criteria to qualify for the Seal of Local Good Governance.
Sen. Legarda noted that as of December 2022, 980 of the 1,715 LGUs have complied with the submission of LCIs.
Meanwhile, the total number of properties registered with the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP), including those recorded by the cultural agencies, is 10,385.
Cultural mapping has been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an essential tool in preserving the world's heritage and cultural assets in architecture, traditional dwellings, indigenous skills, and natural heritage.
It has supported several mapping projects with indigenous communities worldwide, including collaborating with the Ifugao, the Higaunon, the Manobo, the Subanen, and the Banwaon in the Philippines.
UNESCO also recognizes culture as a critical source for mitigating and adapting to climate change. It is fully committed to addressing the impact of climate change on culture and enhancing the potential of culture for global climate action.
"Especially when threatened by climate change and biodiversity loss, our heritage values must be protected as a source of our connectedness and resilience, to help us get through the direst times in unison using the best available means that promote our interrelation," Legarda stated.
The bicameral conference committee, represented by the Senate and the House of Representatives, is set to tackle the Cultural Mapping Bill on March 21. (KSAA – PIA CPSD with information from OSLL)