FILIPINOS and Japanese are trying to heal the wounds of war by photography. This year, the Philippine-Japan Friendship Year marks the golden anniversary of the two countries’ peace treaty. To celebrate the event, the Japan Foundation Manila (JFM) and the National Center for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) launched a photo exhibit featuring the two countries United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites, on May 22 to June 30 at the NCCA Lobby, in Intramuros, Manila.

Isan Pamana (minus the letter g in “isang,” so as to mean “heirloom” in Nihongo) featured 26 pictures by renowned Japanese photographer Kazuyoshi Miyoshi and 16 others by local photographers Bert Adriatico, Jerry Carual, Ed Enriquez, Renato Rastrollo, and Jojo Uñalivia. Each photo depicted the most preserved natural and man-made treasures of both countries, which, in the words of Cecille Picache of NCCA, “belong to all the people of the world, regardless of the continents they belong.”

“Each country has its own national treasures to be proud of,” Picache told the Varsitarian. “The heritage sites of Japan and the Philippines, like the temples and churches, have similarities that tell of their people’s religiosity. We put up this exhibit to display this fact in time for the Philippine-Japanese Friendship Year.”

The UNESCO World Heritage Convention grants the title “World Heritage Site” to places of great historical and cultural value.

“For a site to be called a World Heritage Site indicates that a country has made efforts to preserve it. This shows a country’s sensitivity to the value of its own heritage,” Anna Bautista, assistant director of UST’s Center for Conservation of Cultural Properties & Environment in the Tropics, told the Varsitarian.

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Currently, Japan has 13 World Heritage Sites, including Buddhist and Shinto shrines like Horyu-ji in Nara Prefecture. The photographs of Kyoto, a cultural center and the imperial city of Japan until the mid-19th century, presented intricate landscapes of Japanese gardens and Buddhist monuments.

One picture showed the restored structures in Hiroshima destroyed by the atomic bomb. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) has been preserved in its original state, with its Neo-Baroque building in order to urge peace and serenity for all mankind.

Another photo display showed the Itsukushima Shinto shrine and its temple monument, the Torii, which still stands in the Seto inland sea for almost 800 years. The snow-capped peninsula of Shiretoko, meanwhile, was glimpsed in a picture showing the ecological niche of Hokkaido’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

Of course, the Pearl of the Orient Seas has her own jewels. Featured in the exhibit are photographs of the Philippine’s World Heritage Sites: the Baroque churches of San Agustin in Manila and Ilocos Norte, Nuestra Señora in Ilocos Sur, and Santo Tomas in Iloilo, the well-preserved historic town of Vigan, and the magnificent Banaue Rice Terraces of Ifugao. Underwater pictures of the Tubbataha Reef, declared a World Heritage Natural Site, and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Marine Park showed the lush waters and teeming school of fishes of Palawan.

Isan Pamana was just one of the activities of the JFM and the Japanese Embassy to mark the Japan-Philippines friendship year. Other events include a Haiku writing contest running until August, which is co-organized by the UST Graduate School. Andrew Isiah P. Bonifacio

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