CCCPET participates in UNESCO conventions conference, fieldwork in Vietnam, South Korea

International organizations and national governments have convened various capacity building
initiatives to implement the 1972 World Heritage Convention and the 2003 Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention. As the leading heritage conservation academic institution in the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) through the Graduate School Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and the Environment in the Tropics (GS-CCCPET), participated in the conferences and fieldwork to strengthen the nominations from various Asian countries.

Recognizing the significance of intangible cultural heritage (ICH), the UNESCO ICHCAP Korea and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Vietnam convened the 2023 Southeast Asia Sub-Regional Meeting for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Da Nang Vietnam from November 15 to 17, 2023. The opening ceremony was led by Prof. Dr. Le Thi Thu Hien, Director-General, Department of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Vietnam and Mr. Kim Ji Sung, Director-General of ICHCAP Korea. The objective of the meeting was to propose multinational collaborations on shared ICH for possible nomination to the ICH Convention’s Representative List.

The world experts on ICH presented their studies for possible multinational nominations. The select experts who shared their findings were Dr. Alexandra Denes of Chiang Mai University-Thailand on the Feasibility Study on the Shared Culture of Rice; Dr. Ritu Sethi of Craft Revival Trust-India on Traditional Craftsmanship in Southeast Asia; Prof. Tim Winter of National University of Singapore on Maritime Intangible Heritage; Dr. Phong Lan of Vietnam University of Fine Arts on Traditional Lacquer Crafts; and Dr. Eric Babar Zerrudo of the University of Santo Tomas GS CCCPET on the Significance of Sticky Rice.

Focal persons elaborated on the status of Asian shared heritage in the latest ICH Representative List. Shared heritages were the Pantum of Indonesia and Malaysia, Tugging Rituals and Games of Cambodia, Philippines, Korea and Vietnam, and Ong Wangkang of Malaysia and China. Through country reports, representatives delivered their objectives and updates on the status of the ICH in terms of policies and programs. Case studies presented were from Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Zerrudo served as a moderator and summarized the final discussion where they arrived at a plan of action for future initiatives. The meeting closed with a field trip to Ancient Hoi An, the World Heritage City of Vietnam.

Complementary to the ICH Convention, the World Heritage Convention remains to be every national government’s aspiration in heritage conservation and promotion. The Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, ICOMOS Korea, and the Diocese of Daejon organized the International Academic Symposium for the Listing of Religious Heritage and Korean Catholic Heritage. The conference venue and investigations were held in Seoul, Jeollabuk and Chungcheongnam from November 26 to 30, 2023.

The fieldwork investigation covered the historic sites of martyrdom by 103 Korean martyrs during the 18th – 19th centuries. Thus, the activity intended to assess the strength of the various sites to legibly express a compelling narrative worthy of World Heritage nomination. Other than the winter climate, the grueling activity was challenged by language interpretation, distance/accessibility and material/architectural authenticity.

After the fieldwork, the conference convened World Heritage experts on catholic heritage sites and Catholic stakeholders from various Korean dioceses. Dr. Henrik Lindblad (Lund Government on Cultural Heritage-Sweden) delivered the Keynote Lecture on Definition and Nomination Trends for World Heritage of Religious Sites. This was followed and substantiated by Prof. Guo Zhan (Chinese expert and former ICOMOS International Vice President) on Dialogue between National Sentiment and World History- The Road to the World Heritage Nomination of the Historic Centre of Macao, Dr. Eric Babar Zerrudo (UST GS CCCPET and World Heritage Evaluator-the Philippines) on Earthquake Baroque Churches of the Philippines-Revisiting the World Heritage Serial Site Inscription with Fr. Jonas Aspe Awayan MACHS (Chair of Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro- Church Heritage Office) on The Jasaan Journey, Dr. Ayako Fukushima (Kyushu University-Japan) on Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region.

The international session was followed by research presentations from Korea. The presenters were Fr. Hangeon Jo on Origin and Development of the Korean Catholic Church, Prof Eulsik Shin on Characteristics of Korean Catholicism shown through Cross Cultural Comparison of the Acceptance of Catholicism and Fr. Kim Sung Tae on World Heritage Value of Korean Catholic Community Sites.

Prof. Hae Un Rii of ICOMOS PRERICO Scientific Committee and Co-Chair of the Korean Church Heritage Nomination Committee facilitated the panel discussion. Various resolutions were forwarded such as the formation of the Association of Religious Church Heritage (ARCH) study group, chaired by UST GS CCCPET, to assist in the systematic development of the Korean Church Heritage nomination dossier. For 2024, the ARCH meeting will be hosted by the Philippines through the collaboration of University of Santo Tomas and the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.

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