Saturday, March 7, 2015

Gemma Cruz-Araneta Leads Symposium on Sustainable Heritage Tourism

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Is there room for development while still preserving our heritage? It has been a constant battle to choose between maintaining our historical past or sacrificing them to build new structures. We are torn between making sure our establishments meets the standards of the future, and keeping our old buildings for the sake of the new generation.

In line with these thoughts, a symposium on sustainable heritage tourism was held last Thursday, 26 February 2015, 1-5 PM at the Conrado Benitez Hall of the Philippine Women's University along Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila.

Leading the talks was Gemma Cruz-Araneta, former Department of Tourism Secretary during President Joseph "Erap" Estrada's short term. She is now the Chairman of the Heritage Conservation Society. She heads the HCS in its daunting but enriching task of pushing for "a Filipino society that values and preserves its cultural heritage to instill pride of place and strengthen Philippine national identity through advocacy and volunteerism, project implementation, education and information." 

Also present was Ivan Henares, a known hertitage conservation advocate and acting as President of the Heritage Conservation Society. He encourages heritage and cultural awareness among the youth through the establishment of school and local chapters of the HCS as well as through social media and his award-winning blog. Ivan engaged the students during his talk by letting them identify certain landmarks within the country. He also showed several before and after photos of structures that were destroyed or damaged by either  nature or man.


Dr. Evelyn B. Pantig, Dean of the School of Tourism of the Philippines Women's University says “Through this symposium, we aim to increase knowledge and enlighten our youth, within and outside the university, towards global excellence with a strong national identity and pride of place as part of nation-building. We also contribute our share to the University’s support towards the Philippines’ fulfillment of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.”

Another speaker was Sylvia Lichauco, President of the Santa Ana Heritage Tourism Association (SAHTA) for one of Manila’s historically and culturally rich districts. She has devised the strategy of community-based heritage tourism that involves the adaptive reuse, conservation of cultural assets, and sustainable care of their shared heritage where local residents can find ways to boost their livelihood too. Her group of heritage advocates conduct performing and visual arts, story-telling sessions, workshops, medical missions, feeding programs, and festivals to help their community by fostering their cultural identity and making them understand that their quality of life could improve by working together and doing their part to preserve heritage that could drive more jobs and better livelihood. 

Dr. Reynaldo Jorda was moderator of the event that was attended by several students and faculty of the School of Tourism.

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