Historic multi-party MOA signing paves the way for Cultural Mapping of Panay, Guimaras Islands

A VITAL Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed this Wednesday, December 13, 2023, at the Governor’s Boardroom, Third Floor, Provincial Capitol, Iloilo City, marking a crucial step in the Cultural Mapping of Panay and Guimaras project.

This momentous event brought together Iloilo State University of Fisheries Science and Technology (ISUFST), University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV), Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISATU), West Visayas State University (WVSU), and the Provincial Government of Iloilo.

Governor Arthur Defensor, Jr., Dr. Nordy Siason Jr., President of ISUFST, Chancellor Clement Camposano of UPV, and Dr. Gabriel Salistre, President of ISAT-U, presided over the MOA signing ceremony. Also in attendance were several key stakeholders and focal persons involved in this regional initiative.

This partnership stems from Republic Act 11961, which mandates Local Government Units to conduct cultural mapping activities. The initiative aims to create a comprehensive registry of cultural and natural heritage from all 103 municipalities across Panay and Guimaras. The resulting data will aid LGUs in aligning with Sustainable Development Goals, a requirement for the Seal of Good Local Governance.

Governor Defensor affirmed full support for the project’s implementation, highlighting its significance for preserving and promoting the region’s rich cultural heritage.

The Cultural Mapping of Panay and Guimaras project has been gaining momentum, with key leaders and researchers from UPV and ISUFST, among others, actively participating in coordination meetings. Led by CMPG Program Manager Ms. Anna Razel L. Ramirez, these meetings have set the course for this two-year cultural mapping endeavor.

This ambitious project, initiated by Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, aims to identify and record vital cultural resources and activities across Panay and Guimaras. It will employ the Traditional Knowledge Systems (TKS) framework to culturally map the five provinces, covering various themes such as water bodies, arts and crafts, environmental rituals, and socio-cultural institutions. These themes will underline cultural resiliency and sustainability, ultimately contributing to community development.

ISUFST, for its part, has been entrusted with the cultural inventory of the 4th and 5th Congressional Districts of Iloilo. The project will be executed through a Memorandum of Agreement with UPV, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and the Provincial Government of Iloilo. Similar agreements has just been or will still be established with other partner institutions, mainly SUCs.

Ms. Ramirez emphasized the community-led nature of cultural mapping, emphasizing ISUFST’s role in reaching out to communities to document and preserve their cultural heritage.

For his part, ISUFST President Siason, Jr. expressed anew his support for the program, acknowledging its significance in recognizing, preserving, and promoting the region’s cultural wealth.

This project aligns with the Cultural Mapping Law of 2023, initiated by Sen. Loren Legarda, reinforcing the conservation and protection of Philippine cultural heritage. Coordination meetings have been pivotal in facilitating effective cultural mapping across the provinces. (Herman Lagon)