A Profile

Article excerpt

WHAT is The Heritage Conservation Society? The HCS is an organization that advocates the protection and preservation of our built heritage, cultural and historical sites and settings. By doing so, the HCS upholds the Philippine Constitution which states that heritage and culture should be developed and preserved for national identity. The HCS is a non-stock, non-profit foundation duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Commission for NGO Certification. It has a representative to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the National Historical Institute.

Why conserve heritage? This is about maintaining our links with a common past by preserving significant structures, historical and cultural sites and settings. Our built heritage is evidence of our political history and socio-economic development; it reflects our shared values, is tangible proof of Filipino excellence and creativity. When vestiges of our past are damaged or destroyed, a fragment of our national life is irrevocably lost to future generations.

Far from converting anything heritage into a museum, the HCS affirms that an efficient 21st century lifestyle can take place in the same urban and architectural envelope that was made by earlier generations. Built heritage can be recycled for contemporary, adaptive reuse, thereby preserving the cultural charm and traditional character of our cities and towns. Heritage conservation enhances urban revitalization and community housing, encourages the revival of traditional crafts and stimulates entrepreneurial activities. It awakens a pride of place which arouses cultural and historical awareness. It often advances cultural tourism.

The HCS aims to debunk certain misconceptions about the protection of our national patrimony that it is an esoteric, elitist concern, and an obstacle to progress and modernization.

How does the HCS work? Advocacy is a major activity because the discipline of preservation is relatively new in the Philippines. The HCS works closely with the Local Government Academy which has included heritage issues in its intensive courses for local government officials. The HCS has joined the Philippine Urban Development Forum to make sure that heritage concerns are taken into consideration.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the National Historical Institute, the National Museum of the Filipino People are partners of the HCS because these governmental agencies are mandated to protect our national patrimony. …