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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, April 6, 2016
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Capitol to prioritize heritage
sites to boost local tourism

Representatives from the Heritage Conservation Society and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts met with tourism officers from Negros Occidental towns and cities on “Protecting Heritage through Local Legislations and Declarations” at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City yesterday.

Heritage Conservation Society president Ivan Henares met with LGU tourism officers after his four-day trip in Negros Occidental that focused on the identification and inventory of historical sites and structures in the province, Cristine Mansinares, Supervising Tourism Operations Officer, said.

The trip was to initially assess the condition and cultural significance of structures built at least 50 years ago that can be declared as buildings of national importance, she said.

Manisinares said the meeting with Henares and Architect Richard Bautista of NCCA was to also encourage LGUs to draft legislations that will grant incentives to those who take part in the preservation of these cultural structures and sites.

“Tourism will follow; this program is just the initial phase. We want to put everything in place in order to boost the competitiveness of Neg. Occ. as a destination,” Mansinares said.

After the May 9 elections, the provincial government will prioritize the drafting of an ordinance that will urge LGUs to create legislations pro-heritage sites, she said.

Property owners of declared heritage structures will receive incentives from the national government including property tax exemptions of up to 100 percent. Some LGUs in other provinces exempt property owners of at least 50 percent while Silay City fully lifts the property tax on heritage houses and structures owners, she said.

Property owners may also receive funding from the national government upon declaration of the structure as building national importance. Technical support from NCCA architects and engineers to check the structures will also be provided, she said.

The identification and inventory of historical sites and structures is just the initial part of the Provincial Tourism Division's efforts, supported by NCCA and HCS, to protect the cultural heritage of Neg. Occ. Three years ago, the Neg. Occ. government begun its cultural mapping that identified cultural sites in the province, she said.

Among the several buildings and structures in the province that were declared of national importance are the Provincial Capitol Building, the Hofileña Ancestral House and Balay Negrense in Silay City.

Henares and Bautista also suggested the creation of the Negros Sugar Heritage Trail that will link the sugar industry story through the hacienda houses. “The trail will weave in the role of these houses in the story of the development of the province before,” she added.

The most commended building during the trip was the Gaston mansion in Hda. Rosalia in Manapla town, because of the preservation efforts and its being used as a venue during cultural tours in the town.*KBC


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