Reaction Paper (with Regard to Philippine World Heritage Sites)

Table of Content

The documentary “Legacy: Philippine World Heritage Sites” mainly focuses on obviously, the most prominent and prolific spots in the country.

Toti, an architect, who manifested great interest towards historical structures and landmarks, traveled around the country to resuscitate Filipinos’ awareness regarding the maintenance of our beloved wonders, namely, the admirable Tubbataha Reef located at the Sulu Sea near Palawan; the magnificent Subterranean River National Park in Puerto Princesa; the ever glorious historic wonder Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao; the majestic Mexican-Chinese like city of Vigan; and the aesthetically designed solemn Baroque Churches located around the country.

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Each of these landmarks exhibit unique structures and distinctive characteristics, incomparable to anywhere else in this entire world. The ravishing beauty of Tubbataha Reef, which is located about 180 kilometers away from Palawan province, has established its popularity among sports divers, particularly foreigners, for its distinctive coral reefs, specifically those with gigantic sizes, of which served as habitats for an enormous number of diverse marine species. It is widely known for its biodiversity – its depths consisted of about 372 kinds of coral reefs, and about 400 species of fish.

Another notable thing about the Tubbataha Reef is the preview you can get of the sunset. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, under the protection of the Department of National Defense (DND), and is administered as part of Cagayancillo town in Palawan. It was also once nominated in the New Seven Wonders of Nature. The Subterranean River National Park, which was historically known for being covered by a tropical sea 30 million years ago, has developed its identity for fame due to its Jurassic Park like appearance.

The park is most notable for its mangrove forests, consisting of about 280 different kinds of trees, and having unique geological features. The main attraction though is the Underground River Cave, prominent for its major formations of stalactites (a kind of mineral) and stalagmites (a type of fungus), and a number of large chambers. It actually topped the first round of voting for the New Seven Wonders of Nature, declared to be one of the 28 finalists on the second round of voting, until it was provisionally chosen as one of the new seven wonders.

The Banaue Rice Terraces, of course, who would not recognize such place? It’s just one of the most prestigious wealth our country is proud of! Even though it was mentioned that another Asian country have developed their own version of rice terraces, our very own Banaue Rice Terraces is considered the most extensive rice terraces in the world. Its distinctive characteristic of growing rice through an environmental process is eminent insofar as it became widely known throughout the world. Moreover, it is one of those living cultural landscapes that needs a huge amount of support for maintenance and conservation.

Another distinguishing characteristic of the historical Banaue Rice Terraces is the Ifugaos’ tradition of chanting “Hudhud”, which became popular due to its unique melody, while harvesting rice. One thriving economy of the Banaue Rice Terraces is tourism. It cultivates interest from foreigners, considering the curiosity it brings about, especially with the fact that the reason the rice terraces was made is still based on a myth – nobody has yet proven and figure out the reason our ancestors made them.

In my own perspective though, since mountains are composed of steep slopes, which is entirely disparate from the characteristics of a plain wherein rice grains are more commonly or has invariably been planted onto, the Ifugaos thought of a way to make it somehow plain-like. Therefore they flattened out the ground through the use of water, which caused a whole lot of hard work. This reason must have been commonly thought of by most Filipinos, not just I, I believe, because what else could be the reason – that is, in terms of economy though. There could be odds that it was related to some sort of superstition, or most probably religion.

Banaue Rice Terraces is also said to exhibit a more sensible trait for its establishment. Because compared to the structures or landscapes made by, for example, in Egypt, the construction of the pyramids is basically to honor the pharaohs, and to serve as tombs for the considered “superior” or highest people, considerably “godliest” – if not godly – in their terms, I suppose. Hierarchy probably existed during their time. And if you’ll mull over it, the essence of the Egyptian slaves’ hardships in constructing those pyramids come out to make no sense at all – at least, in my opinion.

Because it didn’t do them any good; not in the current state though, because the pyramids became an inherent tool in tracing back their history, hence, became an essential entity to make Egypt become known throughout the world. The Banaue Rice Terraces, however, although it didn’t gain as much popularity compared to Egypt’s pyramids, has served so much essence to the people in country, especially in the Cordillera Region. It helped economically. It boosted cultural participation and thereby binding Filipinos together, becoming even more united.

The City of Vigan, a 5th class city in the Ilocos Sur province, has gained so much popularity for its historical characteristics. It was said that the term “Vigan”, originated from the Chinese word “Bee Gan”, which means “beautiful shore”. Vigan is basically a combination of Mexican-Chinese heritage, considering the furniture, materials and structures used in constructing the establishments, one example are the roofs which provide evidences of Chinese influence. Even though retaining the colonial architecture, which served as proof of Spanish Colonization, it didn’t stop the Filipinos from plunging in their own architectural designs.

One proof is the ventanilla, neither the Chinese nor the Spanish brought such influence to us, simply because it came from our country itself. For a second I thought that maintaining a city like Vigan, which manifests Spanish Colonization, isn’t a good idea at all. Because why would we preserve an influence brought to us by a colonizer? By a country who suppressed us, and overindulged our generosity and innocence? Yet I realized it wasn’t so bad at all, after pondering on it. After all, the foreign domination has taught us something.

Unlike China, who used to proclaim that they don’t need to learn from anyone because they know and have everything, Philippines has become able to adapt to foreign ideas – because we’re open-minded – therefore molding a new identity, a more improved identity to be exact. I can actually relate this to the quote, “Everything has its purpose. ” The thought of Philippines being colonized may not be particularly good, but somehow and somewhat, we learned a lot from the Spaniards. There are always two perspectives in every thing. There’s the good, bright and positive side, which always comes with the bad, dark and negative side.

It’s inevitable. Nonetheless, let’s put it this way – the bad things, whether they were resolved or not, it is best if we just remind ourselves to learn from them, because whatever we do, we cannot change them. But we can get something from them – a lesson. Mistakes are inevitable; however, they teach us to begin again more intelligently the second time around. And for the bright side, it is better to prefer looking at it instead of the negative thing, so no matter how tiny the seed of hope left within us is, it would eventually grow big, because an optimistic person never loses hope.

In my perspective though, there’s a better person than an optimist – that is, the realists. A realistic person considers both sides, the positive and the negative. So whatever may come, a realistic person would not let his or her guard down. Because I believe, if you’re an optimist, you’ll tend to look at things in the most positive way as possible; thus, taking the risks of getting into trouble, worse, putting your life in vain. In a way, it’s more like being a martyr. I do believe though that man is by nature, good. It’s the environment and situation that makes him or her bad.

But I would very much prefer becoming a realistic person, because I don’t like taking just one side. I want to consider both. Although pessimists also do look at both sides, their heads are still focused on the negative aspect; thus, even after thinking positively, they wouldn’t rest their doubts. Simply because they’re pessimists – and a real pessimist’s nature will always be negative, no matter how hard he or she tries to change it. Anyways, somehow, considerably, the influences brought about by the Spanish Colonization Era remains fresh in our hearts and our minds through the conservation of Vigan City.

After putting considerate thoughts to it, I came to realize that Vigan City is really is a significant landmark in our country, because through it, we become able to trace back and reminisce our history – our history of which has taught us a lesson, and became a critically important basis in taking steps and making decisions. We learn to appreciate the values influenced by the Spaniards, because I firmly believe that what they brought to us isn’t all just bad things. Somehow, even though fter suppressing the Filipinos, within the 333 years of colonization, they have actually at least gave us a lot to learn, a lot to share and pass among others, and a lot to remember. Lastly, the aesthetically schemed Baroque Churches of the Philippines. I certainly have no interest when it comes to architectural designs, structures, or anything associated with church establishments. I actually like drawing and sketching portraits and landscapes, but the church’s architectural design do not really catch my interest. Perhaps it’s because I find the schemes uninteresting at all.

I know it’s basically about Christ, the angels, and anything solemn. According to the documentary, the church’s heritage is one of the most important means in understanding our faith. I particularly do not really have a lot to say with regard to this topic because basically, though not entirely, I can’t express or associate a lot of things to it. Maybe in the past, with relation to history, the church plays a huge role in governing the state. The church has a huge influence on the government’s decision-making; not until the 20th century. The state decided to be separated to the church.

With the Philippines being under the American regime during the 1900s, President McKinley of the United States issued Instructions to the Second Philippine Commission, and as he puts it: “… No law shall be made respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference shall forever be allowed … that no form of religion and no minister of religion shall be forced upon the community or upon any citizen of the Islands, that, on the other hand, no minister of religion shall be interfered with or molested in following his calling. ” (Instructions, McKinley) In my own inclination about this matter, many people have probably become confused and began thinking that the separation of the state to the church is to separate God to the people; which is ideally wrong. Being a political science major, I do believe that politics should be separated to religion, because technically, each of us has our own individual notion and belief with regard to religion. The Philippines is a country that welcomes all sorts of religions.

It would be significantly unfair to people from other religions if a certain religion, say, Christianity, is declared to be the official state religion and thereby the laws of the country are formulated based on its principles that residents and citizens belonging to a different choice of faith may not believe in. So overall, this documentary is basically a manifestation of the superb natural beauty our country has. We fail to appreciate and recognize it because we lack knowledge concerning how it is established and how much pride it brings about to our country, thereby not realizing the sole purpose of taking care of them. Concerning maintenance and conservation though, undeniably, our country has all sorts of dilemmas with regard to that.

Natural calamities, particularly earthquakes, flooding, and volcanic eruptions, destructive human activities, depreciation of the limited amount of resources, incessant necessities of human beings, a few of which have always been a crux to our country. Another is a matter of security. Scarborough Shoal would be a perfect relational example to that. The unending territorial dispute between China and the Philippines has brought about many illegal actions; take into account the illegitimate fishing of the Chinese vessels found when a Philippine warship was patrolling around the area. Another is the Spratlys Island. It proved to be one of the most upsetting territorial disputes because China has started disrespecting the Philippines ever since the controversial. It’s so absurd. They would not even apologize.

The struggle for precious oil and land has given many countries hope, and many countries, whether nearby or far away, have all staked their claim. And the Philippines are one of them. Being a country with a laughable military and deciding to stay strong and persevere amidst the pressure and tense brought about by the Chinese, who undeniably would consider going for a war against us whatever it takes. Is this a sign of strength and solidarity, or plain childish stubbornness? Even though, geographically speaking, the island is inarguable ours, for it is located about a few kilometers away from Palawan. In contrary, historically it was China’s. I don’t have much nowledge regarding that but truth be told, if this lean closely to World War III or something, the best idea would be to just give up the islands. We’ve had it for a while, and we haven’t yet used the oil on it for some reason. We don’t even know if the island really has the precious oil we’ve been aspiring for. But come to think of it, what would be better? Selling the islands for a profit or trying to use the oil on it with foreign help and not getting much profit from it, and causing a third world war? And another issue I’d like to ponder on is the help offered to us by the US. Honestly, I don’t particularly believe they’re helping us because they “want” to. Probably it’s some sort of hidden agenda. They need something from us.

If by chance the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China came to an end, and if by chance we are able to prove our claim to it, and if by chance there’s the oil almost all countries have been searching for, America would be Philippines best bud. Joe and Juan would be the bestest friends among all. See the odds? America has pledged to support the Philippines by helping us resupply ourselves. This move is to be expected: finding oil in the Philippines, a country that’s deeply in debt of them, that would be a great asset. As a matter-of-factly speaking, we, the Philippines, are so helpless. So I cannot blame if PNoy himself ran to United States for help. Because we’re so defenseless, and now that our sovereignty is being challenged, we couldn’t do anything.

And if war really breaks out, just what the heck would happen to us? Millions of innocent citizens just trying to live their life well would die over a territorial dispute with a country who would never let their guard down for they still consider themselves the highest which is in a way, somehow true. Anyways, how did I arrive to that topic? Well basically because matters with regard to security is of huge importance. In order to be able to bring back our sense of pride, we got to find a common ground – to make everyone cooperate, as well as to coordinate. The Philippine Patrimony is irreplaceable. To prevent depreciation, we have to consider the social-cultural aspect, not merely the physical aspect.

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Reaction Paper (with Regard to Philippine World Heritage Sites). (2016, Nov 12). Retrieved from

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