Why cultural sustainability means investing in people
The extent of the loss of lives and the damage of historical churches in the islands of Bohol and Cebu is a lesson we need to think and act upon. Allow me to share some points that we need to consider as a people and community in both civil and religious domains:
People are important
It has been repeated and constantly cried upon that we need to rationalize the amount of calamity fund to be allocated to both national and local government units. Is P7 billion or not less than P10 billion enough for the damaging 10 typhoons yearly? Is it enough for almost a million Filipinos displaced yearly due to catastrophic typhoons, landslides, floods and earthquakes?
In the midst of the current crisis on how the PDAF is allocated, used & abused, not to mention its moral implications, we must not forget that people are collateral damage in all these disasters. Almost a million Filipinos are environmental refugees.
Tourism should transform communities
Admirably, the income and projections of our Department of Tourism (DOT) with regard to the influx of local as well as foreign tourists have grown so well that merited praising words from President Benigno Aquino III during his SONA this year.
In the face of gory realities of the impact of the earthquake in Bohol, is there a portion of the tourism output earmarked for the people of Bohol?
In the Province of Bohol, where everyday is a tourist day and thousands upon thousands visit Bohol, there are still many poor. They are deprived of the basic necessities of life – food, water & livelihood.
Sustainable tourism is transformative; it should uplift the lives of the communities and local people. We demand that a portion of the accumulated incomes of the taxes, tourism fees, and other income be allocated to promote livelihood that will include the sustainable development of barrios and barangays in the province. Where tourism is promoted, people are empowered.
The historical churches are pilgrimage sites
The churches are not only historical objects or symbols, they are first and foremost the visible expressions of the faith of the people. The Province of Bohol has rich stories of faith intertwined with the diversity of local struggles in the period of our country’s history. The faith of the Boholanos is truly an expression of Filipino Catholicism – faith truly lived in the family and in the community.
We are not sure whether the churches, being pilgrimage sites, benefitted from our tourism economy – as it should be. Churches and pilgrimage sites in Europe are programmed to be funded by their local governments in their restoration and cultural promotion efforts – all to foment the economy of both the government and communities. As pilgrimage sites, promoted in the tarpaulins and even bragged by national, provincial and local government tourism propaganda; our churches should be supported and not merely “used” as historical and tourism sites.
With the impact of the damages left by the earthquake on the churches, there is a need for the following: a.) church records (historical, baptismal, death, confirmation) and even church artifacts (statues, images of saints, etc.) must be secured; b.) the area of the church must be safeguarded; c.) inventory of the debris and other materials of the church structure; d.) consult historians and cultural workers on what to do; e.) think of options on the planning with regard to restoring the destroyed and damaged churches (preserve the ruins or rebuild the church with the same material & design?).
Is there a need to retro-fit the surviving pilgrimage and historical churches – testing its durability and stability? The Dioceses concerned must consider all angles of “Cultural Sustainability,” involving experts, historians, NHI, NCCA and the local people.
Rebuilding lives, rebuilding communities
It starts from the people. The true impact of the earthquakes could reach almost a million people. The Filipino people should help – in whatever way. The task of the local and national governments should be to empower our community leaders so that they can assess needs and find a way to move forward. – Rappler.com
Br. Tagoy is a visual artist and cultural worker. He is currently doing ministry at the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.
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