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Historical markers.

MY frequent travels abroad to major cities recently has gotten me interested in historical markers. This has led me to read up on it (Ref: en.m.wikipedia.org).

'Historical markers are installed by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in the Philippines and places abroad that signify important events, persons, structures, and institutions in the Philippine national and local histories. The plaques themselves are permanent signs installed by the NHCP in publicly visible locations on buildings, monuments or in special locations. Local municipalities and cities can also install markers of figures and events of local significance. Though they may have the permission of the NHCP, these markers are barred from using the seal of the Republic of the Philippines.

'While many Cultural Properties have historical markers installed, not all places marked with historical markers are designated into one of the particular categories of Cultural Properties. As of January 2012, the total number of historical markers is 459, however, the number of markers from all these lists is more than 1,500.

'Before 1933, several civic efforts have been initiated to create monuments, and to mark historic sites and events, such as Cry of Balintawak, Jose Rizal Monument and the birthplace of Andres Bonifacio. However, many more historical sites have not been recognized or marked.

'The earliest predecessor of the NHCP was the Philippine Historical Research and Markers Committee [PHRMC]. Established on October 23,1933, via Executive Order 451 during the governorship of Frank Murphy during the American colonial era, one of its tasks was to mark cultural and historical antiquities in Manila, which was later expanded to cover the rest of the Philippines. The first markers were installed in 1934, including ones for Church of San Agustin, Fort Santiago, Plaza McKinley, Roman Catholic Cathedral of Manila, San Sebastian Church, Concordia College, Manila Railroad Co., Dr. Lorenzo Negrao, and University of Santo Tomas (Intramuros site). Issuance of markers stopped during the World War II. Some of these markers were either lost or destroyed during the war and new markers were installed as replacements for San Agustin Church and Manila Cathedral. Throughout the years, some markers have also been reportedly missing as they were stolen and sold as scrap meal. The installation of markers was continued by the successors of the PHRMC: the Philippines Historical Committee (PHC), National Historical Institute (NHI) and the NHCP. The standard style of markers has changed throughout the years.

'The language of the markers are mostly and primarily in Filipino, with markers also in English and Spanish. The first marker to contain a regional language was installed to commemorate the Cebu Provincial Capitol in Cebu City. The markers, both in Cebuano and Filipino, were installed in 2008. The first marker in Ilocano was installed to commemorate the Mansion House in Baguio City in 2009. The first marker in Capampangan was installed to commemorate the Holy Rosary Parish Church in Angeles City in 2017. Historical markers outside of the Philippines may also be written in the local language of the country where the marker is installed such as German in Berlin, Germany, and French in Ghent, Belgium, (both markers commemorate Jose Rizal). Two of the first markers outside of the Philippines were installed in Ghent, Belgium, commemorating the residence of Jose Rizal when the El Filibusterismo was published, and in Dezhou, China, commemorating Paduka Batara, a King of Sulu who paid tribute to the Yongle Emperor and died there. Both were installed in 1959.

'In 2002, during the unveiling ceremony of the marker for National Federation of Women's Club in the Philippines in Manila Hotel, former President Fidel Ramos joked that the curtain raising reminded him of striptease, and everybody laughed. That was the last time that the curtains were pulled upward, and from then, the unveiling involves curtain pulling instead.

'In 2011, the NHCP stated that it will pursue more markers for Visayas and Mindanao for their further inclusion in national history, citing the concentration of markers in Luzon. The installation of markers follows certain criteria and policies (nhcp.gov.ph).

The following are the policies issued by the NHCP on the installation of markers.

Markers shall be installed for Filipino heroes, historic events and places involving historical acts and patriotic endeavors to dramatize the need to focus to the national consciousness the history of our country from the Filipino viewpoint and to evoke pride in our national heritage and identity.

Installation of historical markers that honor Filipino heroes shall be undertaken after proper and thorough study.

Historical markers shall only be installed in places with great historical value as determined by the NHCP Board.

Historical markers for religious personalities may be installed in recognition of social or historical value.

Historical markers shall not be installed to honor persons deceased less than 50 years, unless they are considered outstanding figures.

Request for historical markers may be granted during the centenary year of deserving persons, places or structures.

Historical markers shall not be installed in honor of persons who are still living.

Historical markers may be installed in honor of foreigners, only in exceptional cases.

Markers of local significance shall be allowed upon approved application to the NHCP provided they are installed and financed by the agency, persons or organization making the request and in such cases, the seal of the Republic of the Philippines shall not be allowed to be used.

In consonance with the national policy, all texts of historical markers shall be in the national language.

The historical marker shall have a uniform design, size and materials. The NHCP shall exercise the exclusive right (patent) over its use and production.

The historical markers are government property. Any act to destroy or remove the said markers without the written authority from the NHCP Board shall be charged criminally in accordance with existing laws. The NHCP shall conceptualize the standard design, size and materials of the pedestals for the historical marker.

To ensure the protection, upkeep and maintenance of the historical markers, the NHCP and the client (i.e., local executives, descendant of the hero, etc.) shall both officially agree and sign the Certificate of Transfer.

With the recently concluded elections, newly elected officials of local government units are now in place. Newly installed mayors are now starting to fulfill their campaign promise of cleaning up their cities of garbage, unclogging traffic bottlenecks, solving drainage problems, putting vendors in their proper places, among others. Mayor 'Isko' Moreno is now the 'darling' of Manilenos and the Philippine press by setting the gold standard for LGUs to follow by just doing his job! His mantra-Manila for Manilenos to be proud of. Giving priority to cleaning up sites with historical significance (e.g., Escolta, Divisoria) is a step in the right direction.

Indeed, pride in one's city must include respect for its cultural heritage and historical sites and markers. All LGUs are mandated by law to submit a partial or full list of each LGUs cultural properties. However, the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property reports that only 39 out of 1,934 cities and municipalities have submitted such a list as of November 2017. A partial reason given by the PRECUP for this major LGU participation is the nonexistence of a holistic Department of Culture. Although there have been bills filed in Congress to establish a Department of Culture, none of these bills have been given priority status and to date, none have been passed. Congress, wake up!
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jul 22, 2019
Words:1327
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