The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras is officially removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger at the 36th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Saint Petersburg, Russia! This good news was texted to me by Archt. Joy Mananghaya of the UNESCO National Commission (UNACOM) who is currently at the meeting.
According to UNESCO, "The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines) was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1995 as an outstanding cultural landscape that evolved over two millennia. It was placed on the Danger List in 2001 because of threats to its essential values which required the development of better management and planning. The Philippines sought danger listing as a way to raise national and international support and cooperation in the preservation of these remote high rice fields maintained thanks to the transmission of traditional knowledge from one generation to the next."
In his e-mail to me, ICOMOS Philippines President Archt. Augusto Villalon said, "All committee members were effusive in their compliments of the great work done by us for the terraces. We are the new examples for community based heritage conservation success!"
Congratulations to the Philippines and most especially to the Ifugao community who have worked so hard to remove the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras from the List of World Heritage in Danger! Congratulations as well to UNACOM and ICOMOS Philippines for the great work that was done!
But the work to conserve the rice terraces does not end there. We should continue to be vigilant and join in the efforts to safeguard the site. Removal from the list does not mean it is no longer in danger. One reason for the removal is that we have complied with the difficult process of producing infrastructure guidelines and cartographic maps. It is important to understand the context of the removal. It recognizes that we are moving towards the right direction, eleven years after it was first included in the danger list in 2001. And this is the good news we celebrate today!