[PHOTO AT LEFT - Forty-two palaces in the historic center of Genoa using the Palazzi dei Rolli system are all inscribed on the World Heritage list. Most were bequeathed to the Italian government by the shipping magnates of the ancient Genoa port. | Zoom CINQUE TERRE, Italy]

MANILA, JULY 28, 2009 (STAR) By Preciosa S. Soliven - Cinque Terre (“five lands”) alongside the Italian Riviera between Genoa and Pisa consists of five coastal villages hanging on the cliffs with vineyards and olive tree terraces. These were matched with our five Ifugao Rice Terraces (cinque terrazzo de riso) in the Cordilleras by the World Heritage Committee, which is hoping to remove the latter from the List of World Heritage Sites (WHS) in Danger.

Outstanding Universal Value

To deserve international recognition, the site must present exceptional geographical features rich in archeological, historical and cultural values. Shared management strategies must ensure adequate conservation of geological heritage consistently with tourism, environment education, and science research activities.

What is similar between the two WHS? Both of them have unique universal values, upholding ancient traditional engineering to build the terraces. While the vineyards require dry solid terraces, the rice terraces have to be kept wet. Requiring stamina for cultivating mountainous terrain, both Italians and Ifugao natives have farmers who persist in developing fine grape wine and rice wine.

But, with rapid modernization, the young generations of both sites have been abandoning the upland agronomy. The financial gain keeps lessening since the land portion decreases as it is further subdivided among the young heirs. Many exciting businesses in cities draw the young away from farming as well. Both are mountain regions less accessible to local and foreign visitors unless efficient transport systems are provided.

A Common Heritage And Responsibility For All

A young African of the World Heritage Youth stated: “The world is our inheritance. It is mine, yours and ours, too. So let us look after it well for the nations of tomorrow.”

To preserve the precious assets of our Philippine WHS heritage, the Italian funds in trust supported the “twinning project” of WHS Cinque Terre with the Ifugao Rice Terraces, enabling a 10-day visit to the coastal villages of Monterosso al mare, Corniglia, Manarola, Vernazza and Riomaggiore.

As UNESCO Secretary General, the author headed the delegation with Ifugao Governor Teddy Baguilat Jr., Hungduan Mayor Pablo Cuhayon and cultural expert and architect Joy Mananghaya, also a native of Ifugao. These photos we took show the self-sustaining assets of Cinque Terre, which can inspire efforts for the sustainability of the Ifugao Rice Terraces.

What solutions have cinque terre to offer?

The effective management strategy for Cinque Terre is handled by the Liguria Regional Directorate for Cultural Properties and Landscape headed by Director Lino Malara.

Access to these high coastal villages comes by way of the railway station from Genoa established back in 1870. Through a clever engineering feat, a second railway was raised on a higher slope in 1926 and improved in 1990 when it was declared a World Heritage Site.

The publicity and accounts of tourists about the modern amenities for board and lodging, including toilets and kitchens, readily attracted thousands of young and old tourists. (To preserve the culture of the Cordilleras, bed and breakfasts should be provided for tourists; hotels should not be constructed so as not to ruin the landscape.

The local cuisine must suit international tastes and standards even though the eateries and cafes are of three-star ranking. Architects, geologists and agronomy experts from the universities must be involved. The local government must partner with national government agencies like the Ministries of Transportation, Tourism, Environment, Education, Finance and Defense to develop the management system.

Heritage, A Lifelong Undertaking

Our energies and talents for heritage problems should promote the following, especially among the young, as well as the local and national government:

• At home, through participation in the life of local sites — cleaning, clearing of undergrowth, recycling and restoration projects — volunteers are always welcome.

• Through local or national promotional activities — organization of discovery and awareness-raising events, such as travel or organized visits, shows, exhibitions, press involvement and fundraising should be undertaken in collaboration with the person in charge of the sites. Corporate linkages would be a big help.

• Through contacts with local or national authorities to help draw their attention to issues or keep people informed about their activities.

• By being a responsible tourist — respecting the sites and respecting the local cultures and communities. Travel is an excellent way to discover other peoples and cultures, to exchange ideas and to establish networks.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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