April 21, 2024

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is urging local government units to apply for inclusion in the agency’s Cultural Mapping Program to help identify and account for their cultural properties.

Farland Valera, NCCA cultural mapping facilitator in Northern Philippines, said with the enactment last year of Republic Act 11961 or the Cultural Mapping Law, the NCCA is prioritizing LGUs in the said project.

Cultural mapping is an approach or a process of documenting cultural properties, or all products of human creativity by which people, and a nation reveal their identity, and the cultural heritage or the totality of cultural property preserved and developed through time.

Valera said in cultural mapping, the use of cultural resources is identified and recorded to further build communities. It is also an initial step towards cultural development, or towards the preservation of existing culture.

“We don’t create literal maps here. What we do is to document and identify where the resource cultural properties are and what are their uses, and what are their meanings and significance to indigenous cultural communities or (indigenous peoples that hold or have them as property,” Valera said.

The project will help LGUs understand the basic frameworks of culture and heritage, and will help them appreciate cultural resources in their communities. The local culture profile will be consolidated, and baseline data will be generated for cultural statistics.

The cultural mapping will also assist LGUs – from the provincial level down to the municipal level, in creating their cultural profiles as required by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the NCCA, and other agencies.

“The mapping project can enable offices and the LGUs themselves to recommend mechanisms to integrate the profile that they created and the baseline statistics in LGU development plans, programs and activities. 

The local culture profile can help the LGU draw conclusions about its status in terms of cultural properties and cultural development,” Valera said.

He added that through the profile, LGUs will be able to assess the functionality of their Local Culture and Arts Council as mandated by the Local Government Code. The LGU can also apply for a cultural heritage marker or historical marker with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines for discovered historical sites or elements.

Valera said cultural mapping is not simply a project done for cultural documentation. There are various laws that require LGUs to preserve cultural properties in their respective jurisdiction such as the Local Government Code, RA 10066, or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.

The DILG and the NCCA also issued a joint memorandum circular on the inventory of cultural properties as required under RA 10066 for the maintenance and registry of local cultural properties. This is a mandated document in the Seal of Good Local Governance evaluation, Valera added.

Interested LGUs may send their request letter addressed to NCCA Executive Director Oscar Casaysay through [email protected]. The letter should come from the office of the mayor or governor, and signed by the local chief executive. The letter must contain the motivation of the LGU for cultural mapping and the focal person with their contact details.

In the Cordillera, the LGUs of Tinoc, Ifugao, and Bontoc, Sadanga, and Tadian in Mountain Province have submitted their cultural mapping output to the NCCA. 

Other LGUs are for validation, training, scoping, and/or for submission of requirements. – Debbie E. Gasingan