Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation, Inc. and the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) gathered members of the community around Paco Park in Manila to launch an education campaign to increase awareness, promote public interest to visit the park, and foment greater involvement in the use and preservation of this heritage site.
Among those who attended the event were barangay officials, business owners and students from various schools in the area, including the University of the Philippines-Manila and Manila Science High School.
The event’s highlights included the unfurling of the campaign banner “May Paki Alam Ako Sa Paco Park,” which declares the community’s support and concern for Paco Park.
The slogan plays on the premise of “paki” (care) and “alam” (knowledge), which suggests that caring begins with knowing and thus, explains the necessary awareness and education components of the project.
“Heritage assets can only be alive and significant if the communities around them makes use of them and continue to help protect them,” said Angeline Calurasan of Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation, Inc. who is spearheading the program.
Escuela Taller is enthusiastic about the participation of the youth especially since ET is an institution that trains out -of-school in the construction trade and in heritage conservation skills, and, since 2009, has helped restore several important historical buildings including Malate Church, San Agustin Church and many others.
“The youth plays an important role in these efforts because they will be the future users and custodians of these sites and it is just necessary that we get them involved in these initiatives,” said Carmen Bettina Bulaong, Escuela Taller executive director. Likewise, ET recognizes the importance of community participation to constitute meaningful heritage conservation efforts for both tangible and intangible Filipino heritage assets.
Participants were also shown the ongoing restoration of the ossuary of Paco Park. The ossuary is the section of the park once used as a repository of bones when it was actively used as a cemetery during the colonial period.
Escuela Taller graduates are working in its restoration while being supervised by experts. Restoration at the ossuary is expected to be completed by March 2018. Meanwhile, NPDC had allotted P12 million for the overall conservation program of the rest of Paco Park.
Bulaong, ETFFI executive director, NPDC Executive Director Penelope Belmonte and Patricia May Lopez, chief of staff of the Office of the Commissioner, National Youth Commission graced the event.
The Dominicans in the Philippines built Paco Park, one of the last remaining colonial cemeteries still intact. It is known as the site where Jose Rizal was buried after he was executed in Bagumbayan (Luneta) and is also known as the site of the remains of Gomburza.
Paco Park, formerly known as Cementerio General de Dilao, was officially declared a National Cultural Treasure in 2015.
This series of seminars and workshops is made possible with the support of Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).
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