A senior history researcher of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) talked about his experiences as a cultural worker in times of crisis during Grupo Kalinangan (GKI)’s Pamana Talks online session on May 2, 2020.

Rommel Aquino, officer-in-charge of NHCP’s Materials Research Conversation Division, shared his experiences of evacuating and restoring tangible heritage properties affected by calamities. He was part of the NHCP team that visited the Taal Heritage Town in Batangas shortly after the eruption of Taal Volcano in January 2020.

In the said visit, Aquino’s team assessed how days of ash fall from the volcanic eruption had affected the town’s historical landmarks, including the NHCP-run museums in the Apacible and Agoncillo ancestral houses. They also put signages in front of the identified National Historical Landmarks to remind the public that, while human life is of utmost importance in times of calamities, heritage properties should also be prioritized.

The NHCP team also ensured that antique furniture and artifacts are protected from falling ash and other effects of the eruption by covering them with cloths old buntings and packing some of them for evacuation in the nearby town of Calamba, Laguna.

When evacuating heritage properties during calamities, Aquino emphasized that cultural workers have factors that they need to consider, namely, the sufficiency and coordination of staff, sufficiency of time for evacuation, packaging of heritage objects, exit route plan and transport of heritage objects, the evacuation area, and prioritization of objects to be evacuated.

Finally, Aquino called on the public to help in the preservation of cultural heritage by simply following directives by the government and cultural authorities even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This online session is the first of a series of Pamana Talks that GKI offers in celebration of the National Heritage Month this May. On May 5, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Kevin Domingo Baclig, President of the Cagayan Heritage Conversation Society, will give a talk on engaging  the heritage community in the provinces.

Meanwhile, renowned historian and professor Xiao Chua will give a talk on the role of public history in the heritage advocacy on May 8, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

The Pamana Talks are publicly streamed live on GKI’s Facebook page.