The Philippines has a number of World Heritage Sites, classified as cultural and natural, declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). There are other sites submitted for inclusion, but we shall feature them here once they make it to the list of World Heritage Sites. In the meantime, here are the existing five (5) sites on the list:
- Baroque Churches of the Philippines (Date of Inscription: 1993). There are four churches cited for their unique architectural style as “reinterpretation of European Baroque by Chinese and Philippine craftsmen.” These churches are: Immaculate Conception (Intramuros, Manila), Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion (Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur), San Agustin (Paoay, Ilocos Norte), and Santo Tomas (Miag-ao, Iloilo).
- Historic Town of Vigan (Date of Inscription: 1999). The town of Vigan, located in Ilocos Sur, is cited as “the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia.”
- Rice Terraces (Date of Inscription: 1995). Located in the Cordilleras region, the rice terraces are cited as the “fruit of knowledge handed down from one generation to the next, and the expression of sacred traditions and a delicate social balance, they have helped to create a landscape of great beauty that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment.”
- Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Date of Inscription: 1999). Located in the town of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is included as a World Heritage Site with the following justification: It “features a spectacular limestone karst landscape with its underground river. A distinguishing feature of the river is that it flows directly into the sea, and the lower portion of the river is subject to tidal influences. The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a full mountain to the sea ecosystem and protects forests, which are among the most significant in Asia.”
- Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (Date of Inscription: 1993). Also found in the province of Palawan, in the town of Cagayancillo), the park, which covers 33,200 hectares, as “a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species; the North Islet serving as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles. The site is an excellent example of a pristine coral reef with a spectacular 100-m perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands.”
We shall feature the two remaining sites we haven’t visited — the Santo Tomas Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo, and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park — as soon as we get the chance to visit them.