Why I became a Heritage Warrior
Last May 2-4, 2014, I attended a 3-day conference sponsored by the National Commission of Culture and Arts and also Wikipedia Philippines. The agenda is simple: Build a cultural mapping site which will document all heritage and historical sites across the whole country. Now, I don’t really consider myself as someone who loves heritage house and old buildings just for its art, nor the aesthetics involved. I don’t have an eye on what beauty is, and if I do, I don’t have any words to explain it. For me, beauty is a matter of degree..not a lack of it. When you’re talking about an old house, the overall architectural beauty of the place comes in second for me after its historical value or the hidden stories it may contain.
I have a fondness for old buildings ever since I was in grade school when my grandmother, who was a school principal that time, used to take me along field trips of her school. Usually, the destinations are historical sights or old houses of our heroes. I like running over the long hallways and running my hand over wooden carvings and balustrades. When I stumbled upon a room with a four-poster bed, I would imagine a young lady sitting on her bedclothes and braiding her long, dark hair while singing a song that would calm the night. Old houses are invitation for wild imaginings. When you’re talking about old, you’re also talking about stories. I love stories. Whether it’s just a short rambling, or a funny anecdote, or some great history involving the place, I cling to every word. In my book, whoever preserves these old gems are worthy of praise because they’re not only preserving the place as a whole, but the stories they contain…the people and events they’ve lived by. They are the irreplaceable parts of our history as a people and I would surely feel the same way even when I’m looking at old houses in Mindanao and Visayas as I would tour the houses in Luzon.
So why heritage? I like to think that I’m fighting for something that’s irreplaceable. An old house, an old building, a battlefield or an artifact, whatever they may be, the value they hold is no less important than what they look or what stories they contain. It could be my sentimental self speaking, but I like the thought of preserving the memories of old because without them, what am I going to call myself to begin with?
When you’re doing your part on preserving the history, you’re passing down an identity, a consciousness to the future generation. Loving our heritage, even if it’s influenced by our conquerors and colonizers, intricately connects and binds us together. You may love heritage for its art, or for its architectural wonder, or how it survived many generations, anywhere you look at it, it will remind us of what we endured and learned as a people.