HOW DO we preserve Vigan, the country’s only heritage city, for generations to come?

UST’s solution is to educate local architects on historical and cultural preservation.

The UST Center for Continuing Professional Development (CCPED) and the Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics (CCCPET), together with the United Architects of the Philippines, recently conducted an intensive, theoretical, and hands-on program in maintaining classical Spanish structures in Vigan, Ilocos Sur—the only Philippine city recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Unesco) as a World Heritage Site.

“[The course aimed to] protect the traditions and the fabric of the whole city [of Vigan] and at the same time put it in the contemporary context,” CCCPET Director Eric Zerrudo said in an interview.

The 2nd Heritage Conservation Specialist Course, which ran from April 24 to July 25, provided continuing professional education “to enhance skills in the art of heritage preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration of heritage buildings and sites.”

Vigan was founded in 1572 by Juan de Salcedo, who called it Villa Fernandina in honor of Ferdinand, son of Spain’s King Philip II. The oldest Hispanic city in the north was part of the Dominican mission territory and became the seat of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia (whose first bishop is UST founder Miguel de Benavides, O.P.) in 1758. Vigan became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1999.

In the three-month course, Zerrudo presented his paper on the cultural mapping project of Vigan, highlighting Ilocos region’s significance in history.

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Cultural mapping is the creation of a “data bank” of a place, he said. “It is a technique of identifying all your heritage resources, both tangible and intangible, in a given locality,” he said.

A thorough documentation of a place such as Vigan will “put together the memory of the whole town,” Zerrudo added.

The course tackled architectural theories on interior finishes and building systems analysis, and provided hands-on work experience on preserving heritage buildings.

A total of 31 participants from the University of Northern Philippines in Vigan and Architects of the City Mayor of Vigan enrolled in the program.

Aside from Vigan, CCCPET will also do cultural maps of Region 3 or Central Luzon, beginning with Angeles City in Pampanga, Zerrudo said.

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