Philippine Heritage: List of National Treasures revealed

From left to right: Bayombong Cathedral in Nueva Vizcaya, San Pablo Church in Isabela and Angustia Chapel in Tayabas

A National Treasure (NCT) is defined in the National Cultural Heritage Act 2009 as “a unique cultural property found locally and of outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value of great national and national value.” meaning and importance, and officially declared as such by the relevant cultural authority.”

Meanwhile, the same law defines Important Cultural Property (ICP) as “a cultural property of outstanding cultural, artistic and historical importance to the Philippines, as determined by the National Museum and/or National Historical Institute.”

The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) declares NCTs and ICPs each year, but has not mass-released the lists in recent years, having become more cautious and seeking stakeholder approval first before officially declaring a site or structure as such becomes .

This task of declaring sites and structures was given to the authority of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts in 2021 following the passage of the National Museum of the Philippines Act in 2019, which gave the NMP the exclusive museum function.

First time

Lifestyle received a document from Ivan Henares of the International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage-Philippines on the sites and structures declared by the NMP from 2018 to 2020, a list that has not been released to the public. Here’s the full list; these declarations are mostly sites that date back to Spanish colonial times.

Specifically, it includes four new sites that have been declared NCTs: Cavite City, Panciteria Macanista de Buen Gusto, the Narvacan Santa Viaduct, and the Apalit Church.

Declared NCTs in 2018 were the Nuestra Señora de las Angustias Chapel, the ruins of the San Diego de Alcala Chapel, the Cementerio de los Españoles and Santuario de las Almas, and the Cementerio de los Indios and its Chapel of the Dead, all in Tayabas, Quezon; the Narvacan Santa Viaduct in Ilocos Sur; the Philippine Normal University buildings (Geronima T. Pecson Hall or Main Building; Normal Hall; and the former Education Department building); and the Far Eastern University (FEU) buildings and immovable cultural assets, including the Nicanor Reyes Hall or Main Building, the Engineering Building, the Justice Building, and the Science Building, all designed by national artist Pablo Antonio Sr., the Chapel designed by Felipe Mendoza , including the Fatima Mosaic on the facade designed by Vicente Manansala, the paintings “Crucifixion of Christ” and “Via Crucis” by Botong Francisco and the stained glass by Antonio Dumlao.

Also designated as NCTs were the bronze sculptures of Manansala in the FEU Quadrangle and the bas-reliefs by Francesco Monti in the lobby of the administration building.

The concrete and bronze sacrificial sculptures at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman by Guillermo Tolentino, declared NCTs the following year; Quezon Memorial Shrine by Federico Ilustre and “its actual settings” in Quezon City; Quezon Institute Complex by Juan Nakpil, also in Quezon City; Leandro Locsin’s Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Building, including the Manansala bas-relief entitled The Seven Arts, the play “Woven Curtain” by Hernando Ocampo on the stage of the Main Theater, the triptych painting by Arturo Luz in the foyer of Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino and the woven curtain by Roberto Chabet on the Little Theater stage; Philippine International Convention Center, also by Locsin, and the artworks inside and outside the building, including the sculptures “Anito” and “Grid” by Luz and the painting “Ang Pagdiriwang” by Jose Joya and a wooden furniture by Napoleon Abueva; Apalit Church Complex and the ruins of Tabuyuc Chapel in Apalit and San Luis Church in Pampanga; San Pablo de Cabagan Church Complex and Casa Real Ruins in San Pablo, Isabela; the church complexes of Carcar, Sibonga, Argao, Dalaguete and Oslob in Cebu; the Pavilion of Magellan’s Cross, the Santo Niño Basilica Complex, Fort San Pedro, Plaza Independencia and Cebu Customs House in Cebu City; the fortifications of Palawan and their location in the cities of Taytay, Dumaran, Culion, Linapacan, Agutaya, Cuyo, Cagayancillo, and Balabac; Antique Guadalupe Fort in San Jose, including its surroundings; Dapitan Church, Old Dapitan Community Hall and Dapitan Square in Zamboanga del Norte; and Taal’s Caysasay Church Complex including Sta. Lucia Well, Hagdan-Hagdan and their attitudes.

Cavite Peninsula

In 2019, the NMP declared the entire Cavite Peninsula, on which the fortified city of Cavite Puerto (now Cavite City) is located, to be an NCT.

Included in this statement was the old causeway, now M. Valentino Street to Ramon Samonte Park to the Naval Station, the Sta. Monica’s Church, Bell Tower, Main Gate and Western Part of Fort San Felipe, and “the sites, remains and archaeological remains of the Spanish Colonial period fortifications, military buildings and installations, shipyards, public monuments, public buildings, churches and religious buildings, houses and private facilities, roads and other infrastructure, together with associated anchorages and underwater sites at Bacoor and Cañacao Bay, and its overall natural environment in relation to the surrounding water.”

The Severino Laberto building, or Panciteria Macanista de Buen Gusto in Binondo, mentioned in Jose Rizal’s novel El Filibusterismo, led the 2020 declarations.

In addition to the Buen Gusto building, other declarations that year included the ruins of Budiao Church in Daraga, Albay; Agoo watchtower in La Union; Calape and Anda Churches in Bohol; Quezon Watchtowers in Atimonan, Gumaca, Macalelon, Pitogo, and Unisan; Watchtowers of Punta Portuguesa in Sual, Pangasinan and in Gabu Sur, Laoag, Ilocos Norte; the archaeological sites of Ayub Cave at Maitum in Sarangani, New Ibajay in El Nido in Palawan and Kamhantik in Mulanay in Quezon; Shell Midden Site at Lal-lo and Gattaran at Cagayan; Taytay Bonuses in Miag-ao in Iloilo, Spanish Era Bridge in Sta. Maria in Ilocos Sur and Paoay Bridge in Ilocos Norte; and the church complex of San Vicente with Escuela, Municipio and Asilo de San Vicente in Ilocos Sur.

Important cultural assets

For the ICP category, the NMP 2018 declared the San Lorenzo Martyr Church Complex, the Old Tigbi Escuela Building, the Nuestra Señora de Salvacion Church Complex and the Simbahanan Church Ruins in Tiwi, Albay; Marikina Church, including the Jesus de la Peña Chapel, the Shoe Museum and the historical houses of Kapitan Moy, Chanyungco and Zamora; the Vitu fountains of Batan and Sabtang in Batanes; Karaang Jasaan Archaeological Site in Misamis Oriental; Church Complexes of Malate, Manila and Duero, Bohol; Sabang Bridge between Ibaan and Batangas City; Spanish Era Bridge in Sampaloc, Quezon; Philippine General Hospital building (headquarters, ward pavilions, infirmary, nurses’ home); the main building of the Philippine School for the Deaf in Pasay; Jesuit Mirador Hill Complex including Lourdes Grotto in Baguio City; Manila’s St. Paul University Chapel and Fleur-de-lis Theatre; Santa Isabel College Chapel and Administration Building in Manila; Adamson University buildings (St. Vincent Building, St. Theresa Building, St. Vincent de Paul Church); Letran Building in Intramuros (St. John the Baptist Building, St. Raymond of Peñafort Building, St. Dominic de Guzman Building, site and archaeological remains of the old Dominican monastery); Pasig’s Bahay na Tisa; St. Scholastica’s College buildings (St. Cecilia’s Hall, Chapel, St. Scholastica Building, St. Hildegarde Building); Redemptorist Church in Baclaran; Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat at San Beda University in Manila; and St. La Salle Hall of De La Salle University Manila.

Old buildings

Guillermo Tolentino’s Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmeña statues in the Old Legislative Building were declared ICPs in 2019 along with Jose Alcantara’s Philam Life sculptures and Manansala’s Philam Life paintings; the Edsa Shrine by Francisco Mañosa; Pablo Antonio’s Bel Air Apartments and Jose Maria Zaragoza‘s Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila, as well as his Meralco Building in Pasig and the Commercial Bank and Trust Company Building in Escolta; the Makati Stock Exchange Building of Locsin and the old Nielsen Airport Passenger Terminal and Control Tower in Makati; the statues of Carlos P. Garcia and Sandugo in Tagbilaran; Juan Arellano’s Bank of the Philippine Islands-Cebu in Cebu City, as well as Casa Gorordo, Jesuit House, the Yap-San Diego House; Cebu’s old Provincial Hall (now Museo Sugbu), Fuente Osmeña, Gotiaco Building (the old Compaña Maritima Building) and the church complex of San Vitalis y La Immaculada Concepcion; the historic houses of Tagbilaran (Rocha House, Rocha-Suarez House, Rocha-Hontañosa House, Yap House, Belda House); Plaza Rizal, Escuela de Niñas, Escuela de Niños, Church Complex of San Jose Obrero, all in Tagbilaran; Old Balilihan Municipio in Bohol; Rizal; UP Diliman Building designed by Juan Nakpil (Quezon Hall, Gonzalez Hall, Carillon Tower); Coconut Palace of Manosa; Terminal 1 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport near Locsin; Federico Ilustre’s old GSIS building, the Quirino Tribune and the National Planetarium in Manila; San Fernando Bridge, also known as Puente de General Blanco in Binondo; Manila City Hall and the nearby National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority Building; Old Ministry of Agriculture and Trade and Ministry of Finance buildings in Rizal Park, now part of the NMP complex; Makati’s Old Presidencia, San Pedro Macati Church, Guadalupe Church and San Nicolas Ermita; the National Art Center of Locsin in Los Baños; Isabel II Monument in Arevalo, Iloilo, including its surroundings; Facade of Tigbauan Church in Iloilo; Ancient old provincial capital in San Jose de Buenavista; the Isabela church complexes in the cities of Gamu, Cauayan and Alicia; the Nueva Vizcaya Cathedral Complex of Santo Domingo in Bayombong, the Church Complex of Bambang and the Bell Tower of Bagabag; Ruins of the old Taal Church in present-day San Nicolas, Batangas; the Cathedral of Puerto Princesa and the nearby ruins of Cuarteles and Plaza Rizal; archaeological sites and petrographies of Anda in Bohol; and the archaeological site of a kiln built during the Spanish period at Alubijid, Misamis Occidental.

Historical dams

The American-era Wawa Dam and its location in Montalban, Rizal, has also been declared an ICP along with the Spanish-era Ligas Dam between Las Piñas City and Bacoor, Cavite. The last one is now called the Molino Dam, but there are many “Molino” dams in Bacoor. These latter two are the first such recognitions for historic dams in the country, the subject of this author’s specialization.

In 2020, the NMP declared Balili House and the old Holy Spirit School building in Tagbilaran to be ICPs; Bahay na Tisa in Bacoor, Cavite; China Bank Building in Binondo; Lighthouses on Balicasag Island in Panglao and in Loon, Bohol; Kerr and Co. Building, Ynchausti y Compañia Building (now the Museum of Philippine Economic History), Customs House on Muelle Loney, and Casa Real with Arroyo Fountain, all in Iloilo City; leguarios of Spanish era milestones in Ilocos Norte (Pasuquin and Laoag) and Tayum, Abra; the churches of Bohol (Tubigon, Talibon, Jagna, Guindulman, Carmen, Balilihan); Binondo Church; Currimao Port Complex in Ilocos Norte, which includes the Harbor Master’s House, the Wharf and the Tobacco Warehouse; Bacoor Church in Cavite; and Dumaguete’s Watchtower Bell Tower. – INVOLVED


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