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Albay eyes Mayon inclusion in UNESCO World Heritage List

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA5/Albay) — Mayon is known as the world's perfectly shaped volcanic cone due to its incomparable symmetry, located in the province of Albay.

Consequently, behind its physical asset, the Mayon volcano holds a remarkable worth for inhabitants in  terms of tourism, culture, livelihood, and agriculture.

Following this, Albay will push for its nomination in United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in February next year.

‘’Kapag sinabing world heritage site kung may mga lugar na dapat puntahan, ang lugar mo is a ‘must’ destination [When you say heritage site, it would mean a ‘must’ destination to see],’’ Kurt Zepeda Albay local historian and one of the writers for the nomination of Mayon Volcano as World Heritage Site (WHS) said.

MAJESTIC MAYON | Local, national, and international tourists visit the Mayon Skyline in Tabaco City, Albay, located within the eastern slope of the Mayon Volcano during its normal volcanic state due to its natural and breathtaking view. (Photo courtesy of Jibriel Sasi)

Bid as World Heritage site  

‘’In 2015, we submitted Mayon as a world heritage site, but it was palced under a tentative list by UNESCO,’’ Zepeda said.

Recently, a meeting was conducted by key agencies including officers from Philippine National Commission for UNESCO (PH NatCom or UNACOM), Bicol University, National Commission for Culture and Arts, and some provincial department heads to discuss preparations regarding their bid to add the Mayon Volcano under the UNESCO's world heritage list. 

Provincial Tourism Culture and Arts Office led the three-day heritage law and cultural mapping workshop on March 23, wherein the process and world heritage program was discussed to municipal tourism officers, cultural mappers, and municipal planning and development officers in Albay.

‘’The provincial government of Albay is fully committed to cultural mapping and the indispensable need for a “cultural dossier” for its bid in February 2024 for Mayon Volcano to be accorded the status as a World Heritage Site,’’ Albay Gov. Edcel Greco Lagman said.

UNESCO defines nomination dossier as documentation for World Heritage inscriptions which can contribute to the ongoing management of the nominated property.

Lagman highlighted that they have identified Bicol arts and culture masters with institutional cultural knowledge and those who have distinct styles to present the rich heritage of Mayon Volcano through dossier writing.

He declared that Abdon Balde Jr., Kurt Zepeda, Mary Karol Fe Ramin Go, Justin Jay Bolaños and Rowena L. Ondiz were the designated  writers for the cultural dossier.

LIVELIHOOD | Farmers near and outside the 6km permanent danger zone of Mayon relies on the agicultural aspect of Mayon to sustain their day-to-day needs. (Photo courtesy of Nino Jesus Orbeta)

Mayon Volcano's univesal value

‘’To be declared as a world heritage site, it is significant to specify its [Mayon Volcano’s] outstanding universal value,’’ Zepeda said.

According to the criteria for selection of UNESCO, to be included in the World Heritage List, sites must meet at least one of ten selection criteria.

Zepeda noted that he is confident in the significance of Mayon due to its cultural and natural aspect.

‘’We have set that it has a cultural idea because aside from Mayon being a natural mountain or volcano, the community has interaction with it and has an impact on the culture of municipalities around it,’’ Zepeda said.

Human interaction with the environment can be cited in the fifth criteria of UNESCO.

The significance of Mayon Volcano is also reflected in some celebration of Albayano’s through their festivals, culture, livelihood, and distinguished tourist spots such as Cagsawa festival and historic Cagsawa ruins in Daraga, Albay.

‘’If we are successful in getting the status of Mayon as a world heritage site, we will be the first [international] mixed heritage site in the Philippines,’’ Zepeda said.

Indeed Mayon volcano plays a vital role in the economy and culture of Albay. (PIA5/Albay) 

(Cover photo courtesy of eric _traveljournal)

About the Author

Cyryl Montales

Writer PIA/Albay

Region 5

Amor Fati

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