UNESCO to preserve Ifugao heritage

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IN a move to pursue sustainable conservation and promote tourism of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, the provincial government of Ifugao has renewed its commitment in raising the capacities of key stakeholders in this World Heritage Site.

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Focusing on the development of its cultural products and harnessing of local knowledge and services to cater to tourists, Ifugao is collaborating with UNESCO World Heritage Center (WHC), Nordic World Heritage Foundation (NWHF) and the Philippine National Commission (PNC).

Kaye Sapungen, PNC Planning and Information Officer for UNESCO, said the Rice Terraces has been drawing thousands of tourists since its declaration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

“Since then, the site, as a living cultural landscape, has been adapting to the changing climatic, social, political, and economic conditions in the province,” Sapungen said.

In 2001, the site was placed in the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger due to serious threats to its integrity.

“But with remarkable efforts and assistance from local and international stakeholders – Peter Debrine of WHC and Cecilie Smith-Christensen of NWHF – the World Heritage Committee removed the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras from the Danger List in 2012,” Sapungen said.

Meanwhile, some 30 pupils of the Alfonso Lista Central School were recently trained to help in the preservation and protection of the rich culture and traditions of the province.

They underwent training for five days under Fugato Cultural Heritage Office (FCHO) of the provincial government under School of Living Tradition (SLT) with culture bearers Antonio Pahigon and Carmen Dogwaon as subject experts.

Participants were taught to perform the three main Ifugao native dances with the corresponding gong beats – Dinuyya/Dinuy-a, Bitangnguk and Hinggatut.

The SLT is a program designed to preserve and conserve the Ifugao culture and tradition through skills trainings and cultural performances.

FCHO Project Development Coordinator Manifold Capuano said SLT will also establish centers in each municipality to conduct trainings on cultural performing arts, crafts and indigenous skills.

Ifugao’s rich culture and tradition has been preserved through the holding of “Imbaya Festival,” a showcase of dances, gongs and rituals.

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