Touching people

By: Madrileña de la Cerna November 19,2016 - 08:53 PM

The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) celebrated its 50th anniversary of embarking on programs and projects that aim to touch the lives and shape the future of people in its partner communities through its seven programs: Integrated Development, Micro-Finance and Entrepreneurship, Culture and Heritage, Education, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Leadership, and Citizenship. My partnership with RAFI was through its Culture and Heritage Program when I was director of the UP Cebu Central Visayas Studies Center (CVSC) from 1999 to 2009 .

The restoration of the Boljoon Church in 1998 was the start of RAFI’s involvement in a community-based cultural heritage program with the formation of the Boljoon Heritage Foundation Inc. which achieved the convergence of the different sectors of Boljoon for heritage work. With this pioneering effort in Boljoon, three more towns were into active cultural heritage work at the community or grass roots level. Argao, Dalaguete and Oslob joined Boljoon as the towns to be dubbed “Cebu Heritage Frontiers” which is an integrated urban conservation program intended to bring economic development into the components of heritage work. Valuing heritage in terms of economic potential was just one of the significant approaches introduced in the community through the Cebu Heritage Frontiers (CHF).

The preparations of the CHF began in 2001 which involved reconnaissances, surveys, consultations and partnership agreements with the Urban Conservation Center, the NCCA, the LGUs of the four towns. In 2003 the First Phase, the Heritage Resource Identification, Inventory and Documentation began its 10-month period of work. This developed into a book entitled “Cebu Heritage Frontier: Argao, Dalaguete, Boljoon and Oslob.” The book contains an inventory of all the heritage resources-monument or site documented in the four poblacions. It is a rich and diverse collection: a first of its kind.

The heritage resources featured are testaments to the spirit, ingenuity and devotion to community life of the past: people’s lifestyles, culture and tradition. The book was one step in spreading a new activism towards heritage work. Through its publication, it was hoped that more will take an active role in heritage education and promote these efforts in other towns. This way young people can re-connect with their cultural past and they will have the opportunity to acquire a perspective in their lives.

True enough, during this period, the Central Visayas Studies Center (CVSC) had for its program cultural heritage and collaborating with RAFI’s Culture and Heritage Program through its coordinator then, Ruel Riugor, we conducted a Barangay History Conference for SK officers of the towns Argao, Dalaguete, Alcoy, Samboan, and Oslob together with my four classes in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) in UP in February 2006 at the Argao Conference Hall. The Conference oriented the participants with local history writing and cultural mapping. At the end of the month, the participants conducted a simultaneous cultural mapping in the five towns. The following years cultural mapping was conducted in the other towns of southern and southwestern Cebu. RAFI and CVSC also conducted cultural mapping workshops for Social Studies teachers in the towns of southern Cebu.

With the cultural heritage movement creating waves in the province, RAFI through the coordinator Dr. Jocelyn Gerra conducted a workshop for media practitioners called Heritage Reporting and brought the participants to a heritage tour to the Cebu Heritage Frontiers.

It also started a series of cultural mapping for barangay officials in the city but has been shelved due to changes in the local leadership.

After the Asean meeting held in Cebu in early 2007, RAFI and the Cebu City Police organized the Tourist Police with the police officers assigned during the Asean meeting as selected pioneer members. The police members were given a seminar on Cebuano History and Culture. The Central Visayas Studies Center conducted a three-day seminar on East Asian Culture (History and Cultures of China, Japan, Korea) and lessons on Japanese. All these activities were conducted at the Casa Gorordo Museum and Gallery.

Another breakthrough in 2007 was organizing the Gabii sa Kabilin held every last Friday of May. This was a joint effort of RAFI and the Visayas Association of museums and Galleries Inc. (VAMGI). Starting with only four museums open to the public for one night at a minimal fee, it grew to 47 participating museums, institutions both private and public Gabii sa Kabilin did not only promote museum education but also provided avenues for cultural learning and strengthening awareness of heritage.

RAFI has indeed touched the people in the communities by spreading a new activism in heritage work. In the words of its president, “As we join in a ‘global village,’ let us preserve our monuments of culture and art, achievements of our ancestors.”

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TAGS: Aboitiz, anniversary, Argao, Boljoon, Cebu Heritage Frontiers, Central Visayas Studies Center, CHF, citizenship, Culture and Heritage, Dalaguete, disaster risk reduction and management, education, Gabii sa Kabilin, Integrated Development, leadership, Micro-Finance and Entrepreneurship, Oslob, RAFI, Ramon, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., UP, UP Cebu Central Visayas Studies Center, UP-Cebu, Visayas Association of museums and Galleries Inc.

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