Lazi Convent: Nice Project for A Museum

As a former Spanish colony for almost 400 years, the Philippines had been the home of old structures like churches, convents, and houses, among others.

In several islands of the country, there are Spanish heritage sites and places that stood the test of time, thus making them as reflections of the rich Spanish cultural heritage of the islands and the Filipino people as a whole.

One of the islands that have old churches and “conventos”, is the Island of Siquijor.

DSCF2983 DSCF3018

The Lazi Convent, houses a few antique pieces of religious objects which have great significance to the history and culture of the island.  But these antique works of art had been, in a sense, neglected and kept in one of the rooms inside the convent.

Lazi Convent, therefore, needs improvement to make it an awesome museum that tourists can visit and thus, appreciate the rich history and culture of Siquijodnon, the inhabitants of the island.

It could have been better if a local Technical Working Group or TWG can be created to plan and implement strategies to start the work of converting or making the Convent as a Museum.  The local Historical Commission can work hand in hand with the local Tourism Council and the private citizens on the island to help plan and implement this project.  Also, the local councils can coordinate with the National Historical Institute to implement this museum project for Lazi Convent.

Earthniversity is hopeful that the improvement of Lazi Convent into an awesome museum can be realized.

Please click this link, below, to read more about Lazi Convent of Siquijor Island, Philippines.


Scuba Divers and Underwater Heritage Sites

The island of Negros and the neighboring islands of Cebu, Malapascua, Siquijor, Apo and Panay in Central Philippines are endowed with beautiful dive spots that attracted local as well as international dive enthusiasts. The islands are surrounded by deep blue waters with rich aquatic life, coral reefs and sunken ships that made it as one of the favorite scuba dive sites in the Philippines.


The Island of Negros where I was born and raised is divided into two provinces, the Oriental Negros in the east and the Occidental Negros in the west. I live in Negros Occidental. In the southern tip of our province, is where you can find several (44) dive sites. One of the town that embraced the scuba diving tourism in our province is Sipalay. There you can find Dive Spot Resorts and PADI Centers.

Historical accounts have revealed that a few boats during the war and after the second world war were sunk around the areas in the Visayas. One of these was the ship SS Panay. Its remains can be found in Campomanes Bay or Maricalum Bay, (Province of Negros Occidental website). Another examples are: Abukama Ship, a Nagara Class Cruiser bombed by the US Aircraft off Negros Island on October 26, 1944 (Wikipedia) and Fujinami, a Yugomo Class Destroyer that was sunk by US Aircraft 80 miles north of Iloilo on October 27, 1944 (Wikipedia). There were many others that can be found around the waters of Cebu and other islands in the Visayas.

SS Panay on her resting place, Campomanes Bay or Maricalum Bay, Island of Negros.

It was believed that the ship was loaded with cargoes and ammunition to aid the resistance movement against the Japanese during the second world war. That sunken ship, therefore, is a rich piece of history of the second world war.

SS Panay

Source: Youtube, uploaded by Martin Yee. Earthniversity does not own this video but thanks to Martin Yee and Youtube.

With the popularity of scuba diving activities in the Southern part of Negros, these underwater heritage sites are now a concern not only for the local government units but also to the proponents of sustainable environment and development.

A few years ago, the United Nations call the attention of countries around the world to protect its underwater heritage sites because it is the common heritage of all people of all states and the world. The underwater heritage sites is not only for those people who have access to it like the divers but it is also for people who has no access to it, at the moment. While majority of the divers are educated in the proper care of the underwater heritage sites, there are unscrupulous divers who cannot resist the temptations of pillage and destruction on these sites. Therefore, changing the face of the Underwater Heritage Sites.

Heritage refers to inheritance or patrimony. The coral reefs can be considered as our natural heritage or inheritance from Mother Earth. Tubbataha Reef and Australia’s the Great Barrier Reef are examples of natural heritage sites.

Tubbataha Reefs is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located at Cagyancillo Town, Palawan.
Source is stated hereunder.

The Great Barrier Reefs, Australia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

It is therefore the responsibility of the Local Government Units to take the lead in the protection and conservation of these Underwater Heritage Sites so that the present and the future generations can learn from them.

Here are the suggested steps to follow in formulating a Heritage Sites Protection and Conservation Program.

1. Create a Technical Working Group or TWG, to conduct a research to identify the Underwater Heritage Sites and gather facts and figures about them. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to conduct a Strategic Planning Workshop on the Protection and Conservation of Underwater Heritage Sites. The workshop should answer the following questions: 1) Who Are We?; 2) Where Are We Now?; 3) Where Are We Going?; 4) How Are We Going To Get There?

The final output of this workshop is the formulation of an Action Plan aimed at the protection and conservation of the LGU’s Underwater Heritage Sites. For a thorough discussion on the Strategic Planning activity, please refer to my previous post found here on this website. The title is: Strategic Planning Workshop on the Formulation of the Local Heritage Plan (Lecture Series 1-A)

2. Present the Plan to the Local Development Council so that the LDC can pass a Resolution approving it and submit the same to the Local Chief Executive. This LDC resolution should contain the proposed Action Plan.

3. Have this Plan on the Protection and Conservation of the Underwater Heritage Sites be approved by the Local Chief Executive who will then submit this to the City or Municipal Council for their review and approval. The Council’s approval shall be in the form of a Resolution or if the Plan submitted was exhaustive, the approval could be in the form of an Ordinance. This Ordinance will state the manner as well as penalties in the implementation of the Ordinance. An LGU department or office shall be identified by this Ordinance as the implementing agency or office, defining its roles and obligations to implement this Ordinance.

4. The Local Council’s approval will give teeth, so to speak, to the implementation of various Programs and Projects enumerated in this Plan.

5. Implementation of the Plan will follow. The Environment Office of the LGU will be the implementing agency in cooperation with multi-sectoral groups in the town or city.

6. Monitoring and Evaluation comes after the Plan, its programs and projects have been implemented.

7. Regular performance review of the implementation of the Plan maybe conducted.

8. From these activities additional inputs can be made by the LGU or Local Government Unit.

9. The Technical Working Group or TWG which was earlier organized shall be headed by the Environment Chief of the LGU with the Municipal or City Development Office as the Secretariat. This can be revised by the LGU to suit their needs.


The southern part of the island of Negros including the towns of Hinoba-an, Sipalay and Cauayan and the islands of Apo and Siquijor as well as the areas of Dauin and many others are rich in aquatic life, marine resources and underwater heritage sites. If the Great Barrier Reef of Australia is a Heritage and Protected Site, why not create these identified areas of the island of Negros as Underwater Heritage Sites Protected Areas?

Various stakeholders are involved in this effort of protection and conservation of our underwater heritage sites. Through Eco-Tourism, several stakeholders are economically benefited here. The scuba dive shops and beach resort operators are our partners in the protection and conservation of underwater heritage sites. They worked hard to construct beautiful resorts, put up facilities, conduct scuba diving activities and other related water sports and they deserve our attention as equal partners in ecological and sustainable development of the area.

They can be our partners in achieving the Sustainable Environment and Development of Southern Negros and the rest of the Visayas.

If you are a development planner, a member of the Local Development Council, a city or municipal official in the area, an officer of the environment and planning offices, or a concerned citizen as they say, these suggestions are for you. Please feel free to add, revise or improve the suggested activities to suit your local needs.

If you wish to comment on this post, please feel free to write it at the bottom of this page.

Finally, Earthniversity is re-posting the video uploaded by UNESCO on youtube. The title is: UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage.


Earthniversity expresses its thanks and appreciation to our sources of information and youtube.

UNESCO: Stop the Pillage & Destruction of Underwater Cultural Heritage Sites

Citation:  We would like to thank UNESCO for sharing this video on youtube.

This video focuses on the principles, rules and mechanisms on the Protection and Conservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage Sites.  This is a good tool to help Stakeholders, Community, Environmentalist Groups, Volunteers and Advocates on Environment and Sustainable Development under which the Protection and Conservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage is included.

Conservation and Protection of Heritage sites and places is one of the major thrusts of Earthniversity.  Although this video was originally published in 2010, the principles, rules and mechanisms on how to protect and conserve the underwater cultural heritage sites and places remain the same.  Get some ideas from this video and apply it now to your local experience.  It is never too late to be involved.

Underwater Cultural Heritage is a common heritage of mankind. Let us help UNESCO in this endeavor.


Do you have this site in your province or island?  In Negros Occidental there are few sites of sunken ships that carried loads of goods and may tell a story about our past.   For example in Maricalum Bay at Hinoba-an and in Sipalay.  There are identified dive sites of sunken ships that face the threats of Pillage and Destruction.  Help preserve and conserve them now.

Let us promote UNDERWATER CULTURAL HERITAGE MUSEUM the way Egypt and China do today.  Underwater archaeological trails are already existing in the United States, Italy, Canada, Israel, Australia and the Caribbean.  Let us learn from these best practices.

Estuaries: Breathing Life That Reverberates The Future, Lecture Series #5

DSCF2230DSCF2208DSCF2210DSCF2212DSCF2192Hello everybody.  Today, our discussion will focus on the topic Estuary.  The Philippine Archipelago is composed of 7,641 (NAMRIA) islands. Originally, there were 7,107 island in the Philippines but in 2016, the National Mappring and Resource Information Authority, reported that there were 534 new islands discovered mostly found in Mindanao. Most islands in the country have cities or towns that are located near an Estuary.  It is therefore of  utmost importance that people in the community and most specially the LGU or Local Government Unit, must strengthen their approaches to conserve and protect these Estuaries.

Join me, today, as I travel the road less traveled.  Why? Because not everybody is willing to talk about it.  Estuaries can be a boring topic.  So, let’s just think of it as the most beautiful place on earth where our future depends on.   It may sound corny but let me begin.

What is an Estuary?

  1.   It is the tidal mouth of a large river, where the tide meets the stream.  (…/estuaries)
  2.  It is usually found where rivers meet the sea. (National Oceania and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce)
  3. Freshwater Estuary is similar to brackish water estuary.
  4. Estuaries are delicate ecosystem.  It can be adversely affected by pollution, weather, human activities and encroachment into the habitat of several species of plants and animals.
  5. It is a semi-enclosed portion of ocean that is somewhat isolated by land and in which freshwater and salt water mix. (

Etymology of the word Estuary. The word estuary originated from Latin words aestus meaning tide and aestuarium meaning tidal part of a shore.  In 16th century it became estuary. How do Estuaries differ from other Oceanic environments?   ( – East Carolina University)

  1. The enormous daily and seasonal variability in salinity and temperature.
  2. Depth – Estuaries are shallow compared to ocean.
  3. Salinity – varies with tides and season.  In the Philippines,  flooding during typhoons and rainy season can influence the salinity of Estuaries because of an increased river run-off from the uplands.
  4. Temperature is influenced by the: a) depth of the estuaries, for example – shallow estuaries may manifest variable temperature;  b) Tidal currents;  c) different seasons for example during winter, ice may form in the water.  In most of Asia and the Philippines where seasons are mostly wet and dry, rainy season and dry season can influence the temperature of the estuaries that will also affect the inhabitants in it.

Classification of Estuaries     According to the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden Website, the following are the  classification of  Estuaries.

  1. Coastal-plain estuaries are basically drowned river valleys where the present sedimentation rate is not in pace with the post-glacial inundation.  The bathymetry is still similar to the ancient river valley and sand bars and banks are still developing.  The relative age is then quite low.
  2. Fjords – formed from ice age valley glaciers that broadened and deepened the valley floor.  At the mouth large amount of sediments (terminal moraines) were deposited creating a very shallow sill into the fjord when the glaciers retreated.  Some sills are not deeper than a couple of meters whereas the depth within the fjords usually ranges up to a couple of hundred meters.  Since the sediment flux is usually very low, the bathymetry very deep, the fjords are generally assumed to have a very low relative age.  Fjords is described as a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, as in Norway and Iceland, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley.
  3. Bar-built estuaries – are strictly speaking also drowned river valleys but in this case the sedimentation rate is in pace with the inundation, creating a more mature estuarine type.  Across the mouth of the estuary is a bar where waves break and that is formed by deposited sediments.  The estuary is in steady state in the sense that even if occasional storm events break the bar a similar one is quickly created after the event.  This type of estuary is associated with tropical climate and rivers with high sediment loads. (google search – the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden)
  4. Tectonic Estuary – the tectonic shifting together and rifting apart of the Earth’s crust, creates tectonic estuaries.  Example is California’s San Francisco Bay.  The San Francisco Bay lies at the junction of the San Andreas fault and the Hayward fault.  The complex tectonic activity in the area has created earthquakes for thousands of years.  The San Andreas fault is on the coastal side of the bay, where it meets the Pacific Ocean at a strait known as the Golden Gate.  The Hayward fault lies on the East Bay, near where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers enter the estuary.  The interaction of the San Andreas and Hayward faults contributes to the downwarping, the process of an area of the Earth sinking. (

Estuaries Circulation

According to Wikipedia, Estuarine water circulation is controlled by the inflow of rivers, the tides, rainfall and evaporation, the wind, and other oceanic events such as an upwelling, and eddy and storms.  Water circulation patterns are influenced by vertical mixing and stratification and can affect residence time and exposure time.

Residence Time water is a key variable in determining the health of an estuary, particularly from human-induced stresses.  Rapid flushing ensures that there is insufficient time for sediment accumulation or dissolved oxygen depletion in the estuary, thus a well flushed estuary is intrinsically more robust than a poorly flushed estuary.

Exposure Time is the amount of time a water particle spends in the estuary until it never returns.  The exposure time can be much larger than the residence time if the water particles are leaving with the ebb tides and returning with the rising tide. (

At this time, I hope this part of the Lecture has given you more background information about estuaries.  The more we know about it, the more we can think of approaches to protect and conserve our estuaries.  Different countries have different experiences and challenges on how they can protect and conserve their estuaries.  I hope this part of the Lecture will help you and your community.   To continue, let us talk about the importance of estuaries.

Importance of Estuaries

  1. Source of food
  2. Recreation
  3. Jobs
  4. Coastal Protection
  5. Navigable harbors or waterways for transfer of food, raw materials, manufactured goods, recycled products, movement of people, and tourism.
  6. Commercial fishing, among others. (NOAA and
  7. Habitat or natural home of various species of endemic and endangered species of plants, animals and microorganisms.
  8. Breeding ground of various species.

If in your specific community there emerge another reason why Estuaries are Important, please feel free to add it.  If you can write me a note the better.  Thank you.

Challenges to Estuaries

According to the United States Environmental Protection Ageny or EPA, these challenges are the following.  These challenges are the product of research, study by experts, scientists and employees of the U.S. governmental agencies. (

  • Alteration of natural hydrologic flows . People alter the environment through activities like development (Philippine experience – reclamation projects), construction of dams, flood control structures, and diversions of water, we change the volume and rate that water runs off the landscape, into the ground, and into streams.  Increased runoff can result in erosion and sedimentation.  Changes in freshwater inflows to estuaries can adversely affect shellfish survival, and fish reproduction and distribution.
  • Aquatic Nuisance Species.  ANS can disturb the food webs in the estuary and they can also cause the decline in various species of plants and animals.
  • Climate Change.  Many coastal wetlands and other estuarine habitats are threatened by inundation and erosion as the rate of sea-level rise accelerates.  Climate change will also increase stresses to habitat and fish and wildlife populations as temperatures rise.  Water quality problems are likely to worsen in estuarine waters if more extreme precipitation events create increased polluted runoff.
  • Declines in fish and wildlife populations. The many stresses on estuaries have corresponding impacts on fish and wildlife.  As their habitats disappear, the food they depend upon decreases and water quality degrades.  Invasive species provide added pressures, replacing many of our native plants and animals.
  • Habitat loss and degradation. The health of marine and estuarine systems, and the human economies that depend on them, rely on high-quality habitats that provide essential food, cover, migratory corridors, and breeding/nursery areas for coastal and marine wildlife.  For humans, healthy coastal habitats attract the tourism revenues and seafood industries that are vital to many local economies.  These habitats also function to make coastal areas more resilient to storms and sea level rise.  As coastal population increased, coastal habitats have been converted due to development, highway construction, diking, dredging, filling, bulk heading, and other activities that degrade coastal ecosystems.
  • Nutrient Loads.  Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are necessary for growth of plants and animals and support a healthy aquatic ecosystem. In excess, however, nutrients can contribute to fish disease, red or brown tide, algae blooms, and low dissolved oxygen. Sources of nutrients include point and non-point sources such as sewage treatment plant discharges, stormwater runoff, faulty or leaking septic systems, sediment in urban runoff, animal wastes, atmospheric deposition originating from power plants or vehicles, and groundwater discharges.When excess nutrients lead to low dissolved oxygen levels, marine animals with little mobility can die; others must leave the hypoxic zones for more oxygenated waters.
  • Pathogens.  These are disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can create health risks for people enjoying recreation in and on the water.  Pathogens can be introduced into estuaries from inadequately treated sewage, runoff from urban areas and animal operations, medical waste, boat and marina waste, combined sewer overflows, and waste from pets and wildlife. They pose a health threat to swimmers, divers, and seafood consumers.
  • Stormwater.  Its runoff is generated when precipitation from rain and snowmelt events moves across the landscape without percolating into the ground.  As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), ig accumulates debris, chemicals, sediments or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged untreated.
  • Toxics.  This include metals, such as mercury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and pesticides enter waterways through storm drains, industrial discharges, runoff from lawns, streets, and farmlands, discharges from sewage treatment plants, and atmospheric deposition.  If consumed by humans, organism that are exposed to these toxics can pose a risk to human health.  Wildlife and aquatic plants and animals can also be harmed by consuming contaminated fish and water.

At this time, we were discussing what the EPA had been doing.  The ideas that we got from other countries can be replicated in our Local Government Units or LGUs or in our respective communities.  For sure, our national laws are in placed but its implementation, as far as, developing countries are concerned may need a little “teeth”.   Perhaps, it is nice to know what other countries are doing so we can learn from their Best Practice.  How did they do that? This is a question that is relevant when we are referring to new knowledge and technology, and knowing this can be a great help to our local situations.  Now, let us  continue with the discussion which will focus on approaches to protect and conserve our local estuaries.

The Philippines have several cities and towns that are located in the coastal areas and most probably near the estuaries.  The City of Manila has several estuaries that dumps to Manila Bay.  These estuaries have been polluted for several decades that fish, plants and other animals can hardly survive the murky and dirty waters of these estuaries.   Many years ago, the cleaning up of Pasig River have been on-going and already changed the looks of the river – no more garbage floating on the river.  Well, occasionally a few can be seen floating.  This is thrown by hard headed riverside dwellers and factories along the river.  Example of cities with estuaries are the following:

  1. Puerto Princesa Underground River Estuaries, Palawan, Philippines – Eco-tourism, National Heritage Site,  U.N. Heritage Site, currently one of the world’s  7 Wonders of Nature, Home to 20 Million year-old Serenia (sea cow) fossil (La Venta Esplorazioni Geografiche, Italy)
  2. Manila and Pasig River, Philippines – shipping, commerce, etc.
  3. Cebu River Estuaries, fishing, commerce
  4. Ilog River Estuary, Negros Occidental, Philippines – fishing
  5. Quinaorian River at Victorias City, Philippines – shipping
  6. Himamaylan River, Negros Occidental, Philippines – fishing, oyster culture
  7. New York and Hudson River Estuary – Hudson River estuary stretches 153 meters inland from the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to 200 species of fish, nursery ground of Sturgeon, Striped Bass and American Shad.  It supports other wildlife such as birds. (To read more about its various programs and projects, please check the link found in the succeeding paragraph.)
  8. Caete Estuary, Brazil
  9. Mondego Estuary of Portugal, located in South Eastern Atlantic Coast of Europe.  It serves the shipping, fishing shipyard, small industries, salt production and tourism activities.
  10. City of Nantes, France, where River Loire begins to meet the Atlantic Ocean. (To read more about its tourism promotion and beautification program, please check the link found in the succeeding paragraph)
  11. Shanghai, China – is located in the River Yangtze Estuary.  (

(Citation:  Thank you to denr10org – the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through Mon Paje for sharing this video on youtube.  The voting has already been done and PPUR has already been declared as one of the 7 Wonders of Nature.  The video was placed here to support the discussion about PPUR as one of the most unique underground Estuaries in the world.)


  • Estuaries are assets of a country, city or town where it is located.  It is an asset because it could be navigable and therefore used in commerce and trade and to a certain extent, global tourism. 
  • As habitat of various species of plants and animals, Estuaries provide a source of food while at the same time serve as nursery ground for endemic and endangered species of plants and animals.
  • Estuaries can serve the sports, recreation and tourism purposes of a LGU where it is located.
  • Estuaries provide job and job opportunities.
  • Estuaries can serve as coastal protection.
  • Estuaries can do other things, I may not be able to list down here.

Now, therefore, ways and means should be formulated to conserve, protect and beautify these Estuaries not only for sustainability and other purposes previously discussed, but for aesthetic purposes as well.  

Best Practice:

1.  The City of New York and the Hudson River Estuary


2.  Nantes City and River Loire, France


On Relevance and Sustainability 

As what the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future stated, sustainable development is the “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”   (Adams, W. M. Green Development, 3rd Edition, New York, p.5)

Estuaries are relevant to the life and existence of human beings for reasons previously mentioned. For various species of plants and animals Estuaries is an important habitat that needed conservation and protection too.

For programs and projects to be sustainable, there must be an improvement on the level or status of the following indicators formulated by the UN, CSD, this is the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.  These are:

  • Poverty
  • Governance
  • Health
  • Education
  • Demographics
  • Natural hazards
  • Atmosphere
  • Land
  • Oceans, seas and coasts
  • Freshwater
  • Biodiversity
  • Economic development
  • Global economic partnership
  • Consumption and production patterns

Just to mention a few, Poverty.  When poverty level is reduced, Estuaries can be protected from over exploitation and pollution, among others.  Another is government.  When government provides efficient and effective infrastructure support, implementation of laws, and continuous research and development on how to conserve and protect the Estuaries, the higher is the chances that programs and projects for the conservation and protection of Estuaries can succeed.   So,  it is in designing sustainable development of Estuaries that the LGU or the community enhance the relevance and put more meaning to the conservation and protection of Estuaries.

Look for this link for more readings:

Suggested Activities for Towns and Cities

  • Estuary Conservation and Protection Program needs a boost among Local Government Units in the third world or even in developing countries.  Two of the best sources of “tried and tested” programs and projects are the Nantes City in France and New York City in the United States.  Their Best Practices can be a source of many ideas that can be replicated in our towns, cities and communities where Estuaries are important source of food, tourism, jobs, livelihood, recreation, and conservation and protection of endemic and endangered species of plants and animals.  Check the links I provided here so you can check what activities you can replicate in your LGU or Commnity.
  • Conduct a Strategic Planning Workshop on the Conservation and Protection of Estuary in your LGU.  Through this StratPlan you will know the real situations in your LGU as far as this Estuary is concerned.  You can raise the following questions:

1)  Who Are We?

2)  Where Are We Now?

3)  Where Are We Going?

4)  How Are We Going To Get There?

These four (4) questions can provide so much information to enable you to arrive at a list of Programs and Projects and an Action Plan that will be formulated by the stakeholders themselves.   People who are directly benefited and affected by this Estuary are the right people to be involved with other members of the community in attendance.

  • Conduct a workshop on Solid Waste Management and Disposal with focus on the 4 Rs-reduce, reuse, recycle and rot or composting.
  • Conduct a River Clean Up Project
  • Conduct a River Life Project
  • Encourage your LGU to establish the Landfill Site, Sewage Treatment Facility, Material Recovery Facility and Composting Facility to minimize the landing of polluted water and garbage to the ocean and the waterways like rivers, creeks and canals.
  • Organize a volunteer such as Green Army for the conservation and protection of the Environment
  • Organize a Blue Army for the conservation and protection of the waterways like rivers, coastal areas, inland waters and estuaries, among others.
  • Organize a Brown Army for the implementation of anti-littering and illegal disposal of garbage at any places in your community more specifically the waterways like rivers, creeks, canals, the estuaries, among others.
  • Organize a 4-Rs Brigade to encourage people in the community to practice the 4 Rs – reuse, reduce, recycle and rot or composting and by encouraging the people in the community to avail the services of the MRF or Material Recovery Facility rather than “throwing” these recoverable materials to the rivers and other waterways.
  • Encourage your LGU to hire an expert on Estuarine Science.

Every Local Government Unit and the Local Community, most specially the Stakeholders who shall enjoy and benefit from these doable programs and projects to protect and conserve our Estuaries in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world, have a bigger responsibility to make these programs and projects into reality.  

Designing sustainable development programs and projects and implementing them will not only transform and maintain these estuaries into a healthy waterways and habitat of endemic and endangered species of plants and animals but will continue to provide food, jobs, livelihood and tourism among others.  That initiative will also create something meaningful  not only for the present generation but also for the generations to follow.


Photos by:  Henry Libo-on, Puerto Princesa Underground River Estuary, Palawan, Philippines.  The New 7 Wonders of Nature.  Photo was taken about 12 hours after the rain.  There was rain that midnight, so, the water was not crystal clear or turquoise blue.

Updated February 13, 2017….(HCL)

Strategic Planning Workshop on the Formulation of the Local Heritage Plan (Lecture Series 1-A)

DSCF0221 DSCF0199 The 4 Pillars of Clean Environment based on Australian Experience are:  Clean Land, Clean Air, Clean Water and National Heritage.  Today’s activity here on Earthniversity will focus on the topic: Strategic Planning Workshop on the Formulation of the Local Heritage Plan.


In planning the  implementation of a specific program or project in the Local Government Unit, I found it best to use the strategic planning workshop method that will involve all stakeholders so that the result of the planning process will be reflective of what the community wants or needs. The participants will be asked to answer the 4 questions which are:  Who Are We?, Where Are We Now?, Where Are We Going? and How Are We Going To Get There?


There will be workshops to answer the 4 questions.  Participants are going to summarize their answers by writing the top 3 answers they selected.  Group A who will tackle the first question shall report their output to the whole participants where an interaction will follow. Improvement or revision of their top 3 choices maybe done with the approval of the majority.  Group B, C, and D follows.

The participants may use the data that are available in the Local Government Unit to help them in answering the 4 questions.  Documents like the following might be of  help: 

1) Comprehensive Land Use Plan, that also contains a write-up on SWOT Analysis of the LGU,  2)  Environment Code  3)  Annual Report of LGU Departments who have participation in Local Heritage Planning Workshop  4) Socio-Economic Profile  5)  Local Budget  6) Existing Laws and Ordinances not included in the Environment Code, and others.

The participants will be given meta cards.  Each card has specific color.  For example, white for who are we?, yellow for where are we now?, green for where are we going?. and red for how to get there? Each participant must write on the meta card his answer to every question and paste it on the board provided for.  There will be many ideas pasted on each question.

The participants will discuss the merit of each response and place it in the level it is thought to be appropriate.  The top level is the best option.  The participants will further make their final choice for each question so that they can reach a final answer of, say, top 3. The final top 3 answers can be converted or formulated as Target, Strategies, Programs or Projects.  So, at the end of the day, a list of Programs and Projects will be identified with Targets and Strategies placed appropriately where they should be.

Also, an Action Plan can be drafted by the participants in session.  Samples of Action Plan is available on line and in the library.  Here I will provide a sample of its contents.  The first column is Activity, 2nd is Time Frame, 3rd is Cost Estimate, 4th is Persons Responsible, 5th is Expected Output, 6th is Implementation Status and 7th is Evaluation.  The Facilitators will guide the participation in filling up this Action Plan.  The participants can revise it depending  to suit their unique needs. The Final Report of this workshop can be written by the Facilitators or Training Director and will be submitted to the LGU official for approval, funding and implementation.  Plan for Evaluation and Sustainability Measures will be incorporated in that final report.

What is National Heritage?

According to Wikipedia, national heritage refers to “anything of national significance which is handed down and preserved through generations, specially architecture, landscapes, documents and other artifacts; also a body set up to carry out this preservation.” In this workshop, the term National in National Heritage will be replaced by the word Local, to denote the Local Government Unit, a city, town or province that will be the focus of this strategic planning workshop.

(Comment, September 25, 2014…Few years ago, the United Nations also encourages all member states and governments to implement the protection and conservation of their Underwater Cultural Heritage Sites or in my own point of view – the Underwater Heritage Sites like reefs, sunken ships and many others that can be included in the sphere of the definition of the word Heritage…)

Stages of Strategic Planning Workshop

1.  Who Are We? The things that form part of our national heritage can help us answer this question too. Who are the people that should be involved, who will be the doers, who will implement and who will be affected? (DIY-VN). Are we capable of doing a sustainable activities to make this Heritage Plan a successful one? Once the answer are written down, the discussion will follow and the final selection of the top 3 responses will be recorded.  Most probably, the answer to the question will be:  we have  heritage sites and places but there is no plan for their conservation and protection. Then, the list of these heritage sites and places will be done. A few participants may answer this way: we as a people, value our rich culture, traditions, history and historical sites. It is for the Facilitator to guide the participants’ thinking to arrive at appropriate responses.

2. Where Are We Now? This refers to analysis of the internal and external situations of the LGU or the Community. It also implies the review of the vision, mission, and other initiatives that were undertaken by the LGU or Community as far as Heritage is concerned. The SWOT analysis is an ideal tool to use for a very comprehensive understanding of the present situation as well as a good aid to plan for the future. (DIY-VN). This question shall focus on the analysis of existing situation of the LGU and the community and the responses should focus along this line. In my experience, I found the session on Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of an LGU to be “bloody” thing, so to speak. But I also enjoyed it the most because through its output, the participants will have a clearer view of their LGU.

3. Where Are We Going? What does the LGU or Community want the future to look like? What do they want to see happening in say, 3 to 5 years? (DIY-VN). This question implies the direction upon which the LGU and the Community may follow to reach the goals which are the identification, conservation and protection of the Local Heritage Sites and Places. For example, the LGU and Community wish to conserve a historical place owned by the intestate estate of somebody, so the participants’ response here could be making a list of these historical places as an initial step that will progress to initial talks with the heirs, donation of the heritage site/place to the government, and the ultimate preparation work to make this heritage site presentable to the public.

4. How Are We Going To Get There? Creating a roadmap for achieving the strategic objectives will involve the management committee in: Setting objectives; Resourcing the organisation; Agreeing or approving operational/work plans; and Ensuring appropriate systems and structures are in place. (DIY-VN) This last question will also focus on the LGU and the Community’s means or strategies of achieving the goals which are to identify, conserve and protect the Local Heritage Sites and Places. These Strategies will include specific Programs and Projects that will later on be Funded by LGU.

Presentation of Workshop Output, Critiquing, Rewriting and Making of Final Report – The Heritage Plan of LGU or Community. The Plan shall include other things like Action Plan, Infrastructure Components, if necessary; Investment Plan if needed. The Task of the TWG, the Technical Working Group or the Ad Hoc Committee is to organize the Final Report. This final report which is now the Heritge Plan of the LGU or Community will be subjected to a series of community consultations with all the stakeholders participating.

The final document will be presented to the Local Development Council (LDC) for their review and approval in a form of LDC Resolution. This will be forwarded to the Local Chief Executive for his approval. The the LCE will submit it to the Municipal of City Council for their review and approval. A copy of this Plan will be furnished the Council Member Chair of the Committee on Environment. The final approval which include the budget details in the Plan shall be done by the Local Council. So, the Municipal or City Council’s approval will be in the form of a Resolution or an Ordinance. Then this will be submitted to the Local Chief Executive for his signature. Now, you have the approved LGU Heritage Plan for a specific period. The implementing arm of this Plan is the Office of the Environment. This is in the Philippines Setting.

In closing, I am very sure I missed some points but you can just add the items you think are important before you conduct this Strategic Planning Workshop on the Formulation of the Local Heritage Plan.

References: 1. DIY Committee Guide by Volunteer Now, website

2. Department of Environment Australia, website.

3.  Link:

Photos:  The RUINS at Talisay City and the Pink House or the Bernardino Jalandoni Museum at Silay City.

Both  are Heritage Sites in Negros Occidental, the Philippines.  Photo by Henry C. Libo-on

National Heritage: It’s Significance To The Local Government Unit, Lecture Series #1

nullnullIn the Philippines as well as in other countries in Asia, conservation and protection of their Heritage Sites and Places is a must. The Philippines and the rest of Asia have a wealth of national treasures and world heritage sites that require constant protection and conservation not only for the present but also for the future generations.

The country’s strong foundation for the future is bounded on the strength of her people’s knowledge about who they are, what they are now and where they will be going as a people and as a country. The conservation and preservation of these heritage sites and places as well the those declared as national treasures and those included in the world heritage list will increase the people’s awareness of their country’s past and therefore increase their pride of their country.

This topic will focus on what the Local Government Unit or a Community must do to conserve and protect their heritage sites and places. According to Wikipedia, National Heritage is anything of national significance which is handed down and preserved through generations, specially architecture, landscapes, documents, and other artifacts. It means that before we go to the macro level, the national level let us first take the issue to the micro level or the Local Government Unit or the Community.

What is the significance of National Heritage to the Local Government Unit or the Community?

Other than the knowledge of their culture, the present generation have a greater sense of pride of their community or LGU. That pride is anchored on the visible things and objects that remind the present generations of the progress their community had achieved because of the efforts of their forefathers and the realization of how capable their forefathers were in facing the challenges of those times. Those achievements are visible through the historical data, artifacts, documents, landscapes, architecture, among others. With this in mind, the present generation has a greater knowledge of Where They Are Now.

What is the significance of National Heritage to the Future?

The people’s inheritance or heritage can tell the stories of how their forefathers lived and the way of life that they pursued. These are also the things that will inspire, strengthen the community’s resolve and encourage them to follow the examples set by their forefathers or even surpass their achievements. The present generation learns from these heritage icons or symbols and so they will exert efforts to preserve them for the future generations. With this knowledge, the present generation is aware what specific future they wanted to pursue. So, they have answer to the question, Where Are We Going? These answers are in the form of Programs and Projects that the LGU will formulate together with the Community so that they can achieve their goals of conserving and protecting their Heritage Sites and Places.

So, what must the LGU or the Community do in order to conserve and protect their heritage sites and places? Here, we are going to discuss the Australian Experience. I will discuss a few steps borrowed from the Department of Environment Australia’s Clean Environment articles as well as my own suggestions on how to start or enhance the conservation and protection of the LGUs heritage sites and places, and these are:

1. Organize a TWG or Technical Working Group with members coming from various stakeholders.
2. Involve the Community in identifying and listing the Heritage Sites and Places.
3. Historic Sites Protection and Conservation Program
4. Create a Heritage Icons Program
4. Provide Funds or Grants for the Conservation and Protection of Heritage Sites and Places.
5. Pass local laws or legislations to institutionalize or strengthen the LGUs Local Heritage Program.
6. Pass local laws Prohibiting the destruction, demolition and sales of identified sites and/or heritage icons.

What are the examples of National Heritage in the Philippine Setting?

1. Banaue Rice Terraces. In the Province of Ifugao, in the Philippines, the Banaue Rice Terraces is considered by the locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The terraces where carved into the mountains by the ancestors of the indigenous peoples 2,000 years ago. The terraces is located 5,000 feet above sea level. It is fed by ancient irrigation systems from the rainforests above the terraces. It was believed that if the steps is put end to end it would encircle half of the globe. The United Nations has declared the Banaue Rice Terraces a world heritage site. It is preserved and maintained by the present generations of Igorots to remind them of their rich culture and traditions, their ingenuity in building a multi-tiered rice terraces.

2.  The Tabon Cave of Palawan is a heritage site because that is where the skeletal remains of one of the oldest inhabitants of the Philippines were found and it is called the Tabon Man.  The cave was discovered by Robert B. Fox in 1962.  Found in the caves were human remains which dates back 22,000- 24,000 years old.  Also found there were: burial jars, earthenwares, jade ornaments and human fossils dating back to 47,000 years ago, the oldest human remains found in the Philippines.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3.  The Spanish Heritages Churches in the Philippines like the Miag-ao Church is a UN declared Heritage Site.  It was built in the 1760s and it had witnessed the rich history and culture of the 18th Century Iloilo.

4.  The Puerto Princesa Underground River of Palawan is considered a national treasure.  It is the current 7 Wonders of Nature. Its hidden caves revealed an array of stalactites and stalagmites, cave minerals not found elsewhere in the world, and others.   The La Venta Expedition group of Italy, also discovered the still intact 20 Million Years Old Serenia fossil otherwise known as the Sea Cow.  The PPUR is a Protected Area.

5. The Intramuros. The “walled city” can tell a thousand stories about the people of the Philippines, their culture, sufferings and victories as well as the rich history of a nation as unique as every brick in this walled city. This City Within A City must be conserved, preserved and protected for future generations.

Because of the recent controversies on the construction of Torre de Manila, a condominium fronting the Luneta or Dr. Jose Rizal Park, the national hero of the Philippines, it could not be avoided that people will react if not object to the construction of that condominium. People are aware that in other countries like United States, the Mall or the Washington D.C. Park does not allow the construction of edifices like this Torre de Manila if it will destroy the heritage site and the aesthetic sense and historical sense of the place. I just wonder if Community Consultation was done prior to the ground breaking of this condominium. Why did the national government agencies like DENR issued the ECC or let it pass during EIA or Environmental Impact Assessment since historical site and heritage considerations are part of the Environment and Urban Planning and Design?

Now, therefore, the ideas on how the National Government handles or manages the conservation and protection of these National Heritage Sites and Places shall be mainstreamed to the Local Government Unit. The latter should implement the national laws requiring the LGU to conserve and protect their Local Heritage Sites and Places too. If the Local Government Code had devolved the functions of conserving the local heritage sites and places to the LGU, the latter in this case should pass their own local laws or ordinances to implement their own Local Heritage Sites and Places Conservation and Protection Program.

Here, I am enclosing 2 pictures. The first one is the Tabon Cave, South of Palawan Island. The second picture is the Woolmers Estate (Part of the World Heritage Listed Australian Convict Sites). Everybody knows that Australia was once peopled by the convicts from England other than the Aboriginals of Australia. But look at what they have done to conserve and protect this heritage site for future generations of Australians to see. I just hope that our local leadership in the Philippines and the LGU will learn from this Best Practice.

(Writer’s note: Some ideas were borrowed from the Department of Environment Australia. Photo Credit No. 1 – To the Palawan Council For Sustainable Development for the picture of The Tabon Cave. Photo Credit No. 2 – To the Department of Environment Australia for the photo of Woolmers Estate Convict Site. The pictures of other heritage sites I mentioned are available in their websites. Thank you.)