27 August 2007

Your Community as a Museum


I once had the privilege of being part of cultural heritage team
that worked for the promotion and preservation program of
a beautiful site in the Philippines. This site is now listed as
part of the World Heritage Sites.

While much of the cultural heritage protection work is done
on sites with sense of history and importance, people must also
look to their communities as their own museums. A modern
subdivision can discover amazing stories (history) about the
place (before "development work" turned it into residential
and commercial spaces). One need not be a historian (although
it would help a great deal if you can get one to help you set up
a system) or a cultural heritage worker to understand the need
to know the past (history), to make the most of the present
(demographics), which can help plan a better future (progress).

What to look for: past owners, their vision and what they were
able to accomplished can guide communities (if the vision was
implemented successfully it will inspire and if not, the errors
can be avoided and rectified).

I was invited as one of the writers for the silver anniversary
of a modern subdivision in Manila and while my paper was
meant to focus on the history of the memorial center whose
community programs I was managing that time, I had to
include the history and vision of the people behind the center
and in doing so, provided a wonderful look at the history of
the place almost a hundred years ago!

A site can unlock many exciting finds which is why it is a
museum by itself: language, food, people, customs and
traditions, objects like art and memorabilia, crafts and
produce, memorable events and fascinating stories.

With the growing population in the city and the mushrooming
of residential communities nearby, it is worth knowing and
discovering the exciting stories and preserving them
(including photographs!) and have your own community