March 8-10, the Philippine Cultural Education Program of the National Commission for the Culture and Arts (NCCA) invited LGUs particularly the Local Chief Executives and Heads of Offices related to Tourism, Heritage, Culture and the Arts from all over to participate in their Culture-Based Governance Training.
Among the topics to be covered are the foundation and principles for culture-based learning, its approaches in governance, cultural practices for growth and development. Included also are presentations pertaining to NCCA programs, cultural heritage of church, Vigan conservation guidelines, preservation, conservation, and protection of all places, establishments, buildings, edifices, structures, relics and the like, among others. The Local Government Units of San Fernando City, Pampanga and Boac, Marinduque likewise are part of the program to present their best practices pertaining to their efforts to preserve their local history, culture and arts.
Both Mayor and his Administrator got interested because they want to create awareness and somehow be able to gain insights on the LGU's preservation efforts to our few remaining old houses, get technical assistance on the operation of Gumaca Museum and jumpstart the Waterfront Heritage Development. This training can serve as a good avenue by which best practices of other LGUs can be learned and be able to adopt here in our locality.
The first two days were devoted to lectures, film showing and presentations with experts from the field specifically from the NCCA and the University of Sto. Tomas. Former Mayor Eva Medina and her son, now incumbent Mayor Eric Medina of Vigan City were also invited to talk. After all, who else can best demonstrate but those who have first-hand experiences in running a heritage city. On our third day, an exposure tour was also accorded the delegates who visited the yet to be opened culture and arts center of Vigan and the Quirino Museum who used to be the Provincial Jail in the olden times. One can’t help but marvel at the preserved beauty of the items on display. Visits were also made to the loom weaving and pottery of Vigan which are two of the most famed industry of the city.
Through Albert Vincent Barretto, the President of Kalilayan, who himself is an heritage advocate, a meeting with another heritage advocate Carl Vincent Quitoriano, himself a native of Vigan and neighboring town Caoyan, extra exposures were arranged. And so visits to the Syquia Mansion and the Crisologo Museum – two most visited places of interests which contains important mementos of yesteryears and family memoirs and heirlooms were made possible. Next stop was the Baluarte which houses Chavit Singson’s exploits of the wild animals from his various jungle expeditions. To complete the day, a tour to the Municipal Government of Caoyan was also set-up to get a glimpse of their governance. Nearby is a house which used to be owned by the town's forefather - Don Dimas, a former Mayor himself, it contains relics and artifacts interesting enough to be subjects for history and culture.
Likewise, each day, before and after training sessions, the chance to roam around and observe the people’s walk of life were never missed. Calle Crisologo, Plaza Burgos, Plaza Salcedo were all amazing sights where one gets the feeling of being brought back in time of the Spanish colonial period. It’s of no wonder that Vigan was declared one of the new 7 Wonder Cities of the World and the only UNESCO World Heritage City in the Philippines. Must try also are their longganisa, bagnet and empanada to which have become synonymous to Vigan.
With Mayor Erwin’s visionary mind, we hope that Gumaca becomes the next heritage center in the Philippines and make us a tourist destination.