South Korea-based ICHCAP features Peñafrancia fiesta in video

Screengrab from ICHCAP video

NAGA CITY--The International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (ICHCAP) under the auspices of UNESCO recently launched a video featuring the feast of Our Lady Peñafrancia.

The video, which is available on YouTube, is part of a set showcasing different Philippine intangible cultural heritage (ICH) elements.

Journalist and cultural researcher Roel Hoang Manipon, who is the main writer of documentaries and the director and co-director of several of them, said ICH elements “are some of the most impactful factors in shaping civilization and culture,” ones that “yield invaluable insights into many aspects of social relationships and human development.”

“However, they are also ephemeral and highly mutable, depending mostly on memory, dedication, and community for its preservation and continuity. Especially now with the rapid growth of urbanization and globalization, ICH elements, especially the traditional ones, are in danger of vanishing and/or alteration,” Manipon said.

“Modern technology, however, also provided a way to safeguard these ICH elements, enabling us to document them, intensify awareness and make them more accessible through audio-visual means.”

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines ICH to include “traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge, and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.” On the other hand, buildings, historic places, monuments, and artifacts, and other material objects are part of tangible cultural heritage.

ICHCAP, which is headquartered in Jeonju, Korea, promotes the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and contributes to its implementation in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the number of cultural traditions of communities in danger of vanishing is gradually increasing because of many factors. Thus, there is an urgent need to make high-quality documentation that can contribute to safeguarding, transmitting, and raising awareness of existing ICH. The project involves both media experts and ICH experts. The project can also serve as a venue where both kinds of expertise can work together and share their experiences.

The ICH video documentation project started with four Central Asian countries and Mongolia, implemented from 2015 to 2017. ICHCAP selected Southeast Asia for the second phase of the project, beginning with four countries—Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia

For the Philippines, ICHCAP partnered with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the national government agency for arts and culture, formalizing their partnership on November 21, 2017. Productions spanned from 2018 to 2020.