Cultural mapping of Panay, Guimaras gains momentum in a high-level coordination meet between UPV, ISUFST

BAROTAC NUEVO, ILOILO – The advancement of the Cultural Mapping of Panay and Guimaras (CMPG) Project saw key leaders, researchers, and stakeholders from University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) and Iloilo State University of Fisheries Science and Technology (ISUFST) converging on Tuesday morning, October 10, in a coordination meeting to lay out the roadmap for the historic two-year cultural mapping venture.

Held at the Board Room of ISUFST BN-Poblacion Campus, the unprecedented event was graced by CMPG Program Manager Ms. Anna Razel L. Ramirez, accompanied by her team from the UPV. Officials, researchers, and documenters from ISUFST, including VP for Academic Affairs Dr. Joan Belga, VP for Administrative Affairs Dr. Johnny Dolor, Legal Counsel Atty. Joey Mondero, Advancement and Linkages Director Dr. Herman Lagon, and Project Head Prof. Genevieve Palmares, participated actively, standing in for President Dr. Nordy Siason, Jr.

Bombette Marin, Iloilo Provincial Government Tourism Officer, represented the Province of Iloilo.

The CMPG initiative, spearheaded by Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, aspires to use cultural mapping as an approach for communities to identify and record vital cultural resources and activities.

The project intends to culturally map the five provinces of Panay and Guimaras by employing the Traditional Knowledge Systems (TKS) model /framework.

It aims to cover the following themes: water bodies and coastal environments, arable and habitable terrains, sustainable arts and crafts, forest and biodiversity, environmental rituals and traditions, and significant socio-cultural institutions and personages.

All these themes are anchored on the umbrella of cultural resiliency and sustainability aimed to highlight the unique experiences and best practices of the people in these communities.

The insights that shall be gathered in this process are expected to contribute to community development subsequently.

Delving into the project’s intricacies, Ms. Ramirez and her team presented a project brief on the CMPG Program with ISUFST being assigned to do cultural inventory for the 4th and 5th Congressional Districts of Iloilo.

The discussion then moved to the specifics of the upcoming multi-party Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), scheduled to be formalized later this month. This MOA establishes the collaboration between UPV, ISUFST, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and the Provincial Government of Iloilo.

The same joint venture agreement is to be forged with Iloilo Science and Technology University (1st and 2nd Districts of Iloilo), West Visayas State University (Iloilo City and 3rd District of Iloilo), Capiz State University (Capiz), Aklan State University (Aklan), Guimaras State University (Guimaras), and University of Antique (Antique).

In her address, Ms. Ramirez emphasized the grassroots nature of the effort, noting that cultural mapping “must be community-led.”

She expressed her excitement for the ISUFST cultural mapping team at “reaching out to communities to map the natural and cultural heritage of the 4th and 5th district of Iloilo.”

Moreover, she underscored the project’s potential to bridge universities like ISUFST closer to their communities.

ISUFST President Dr. Nordy Siason, Jr., for his part, also expressed his support for the program, saying, “with the backing of Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, the cultural mapping project of Panay and Guimaras stands as a testament to the nation’s commitment to recognizing, preserving, and promoting its diverse cultural wealth for future generations.”

“As a social science professor myself, I see the participation of ISUFST in this cultural mapping process to be a valuable opportunity for the university to touch base further with the communities that we serve, extending our services to them in identifying, documenting, and preserving their tangible and intangible cultural assets for future generations and potential socio-economic development.”

The CMPG Project aligns with the recently approved Cultural Mapping Law of 2023, initiated by Sen. Legarda. This law fortifies the conservation and protection of Philippine cultural heritage, mandating cultural mapping as a fundamental approach for identifying and leveraging cultural assets for various development avenues.

Crucial to the implementation of this project are coordination meetings, such as the first inception face-to-face meeting on March 9, 2023, and the Zoom coordination meeting on September 18, 2023.

Such platforms enable project coordinators and staff from various partner State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) across Panay and Guimaras to discuss roles, expectations, and strategies for effective cultural mapping across the provinces.

The CMPG Project, to note, currently seeks research assistants for ISUFST and other participating SUCs. These roles are essential for capturing the rich tapestry of cultural and natural heritage across 108 municipalities in Panay and Guimaras.

Inquiries on this job opening may be emailed to

With the MOA set for signing in October 2023 and the soft start of the mapping in November, a ceremonial MOA signing with Sen. Legarda has been calendared for December 2023. (Text by and photos of Julius Ruger Hermano/OIAL)