CULTURAL PROPERTIES DIVISION
Preservation and protection of cultural properties; implementation of R.A. 4846; P.D. 374, R.A. 8492 and other related cultural laws.
The Cultural Properties Division takes centerstage in the tedious process of authenticating, documenting, and registering the cultural properties of the country. These include antiques, artifacts, jars, potteries, and other materials that are of cultural and historical significance.
From the standpoint of history, the Cultural Properties Division appears as young as the Museum Education Division, having been established only in 1974 through R.A. 4846. The function, however, dates back to the post-war government and was carried out by its predecessor, the Arts and History Division. The function was again passed temporarily to the Museum Education Division in 1974 and was placed under the leadership of Mrs. Rosario B. Tantoco, only to be bequeathed finally the Cultural Properties Division. President Ferdinand E. Marcos amended R.A. 4846 through the issuance of P D. 374 or the "Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act" January 10, 1974.
With this amendment, the presentday Cultural Properties Division has become an entity that is vested with police powers, sharp enough to enforce the full force of the law in safeguarding our national cultural properties.
Since its inception, the Cultural Properties Division has been actively and aggressively pursuing a campaign the registration of private collections, issuance of permits for excavations/excavations, and issuance of new or renewed licenses for dealers, particularly the provinces. In the last five years alone, a total of 10,880 various types of cultural properties were registered and over 8,000 licenses were issued to dealers in the enforcement of P D. 374.
The best measure of effectiveness in so far as the registration aspect is concerned is revenue. In the last five years, the Division generated a consolidated gross income of P 880 million earned from registration of collections, permits and licenses, although a good part of this hefty figure comes as a result of the license fee increase implemented in the year 2000. Even then, this is very encouraging news for the National Museum as it has a high impact on savings and revenue.
The Cultural Properties Division as the recognized authority covered by P.D. 374 has done a number of researches about this subject as more questions or clarifications were raised. Various literature in this regard were made by Mr. Cecilio G. Salcedo, Mr. Efren Cz Flores, Ms. Norma Checa, Dr. Paciente Cordero, and many others. These continuing studies paved the way for the drafting of the Philippine Heritage Law which was subsequently passed this year.
Many surprising revelations are being unearthed as the Cultural Properties Division proceeds with work. For instance, local residents accidentally discovered shards on the surface of a piece of land in Bolinao, Pangasinan in 1983. These turned out to be buried artifacts. Shards of porcelain of the Ming period and shards of piedra china of the late Spanish Period were found in Botolan, Zambales and Rosales, Pangasinan, respectively, in 1985. These areas were recommended for salvage archaeology.
A Broader Role
The Cultural Properties Division plays a Herculean role as protector of national cultural properties as stipulated in P D. 374. The specific agenda of this Division are as follows:
(1) registration of cultural properties owned by private individuals and collectors;
(2) licensing of dealers, agents, and exporters of cultural properties;
(3) research and compilation of data on important cultural properties, national shrines, monuinents, and landmarks;
(4) certification of income tax deduction for donations made to the National Museum or any accredited institution or for investment in the purchase of cultural properties registered with the National Museum for support of its scientific and cultural expeditions; and
(5) investigation of reported alleged violations of the laws.
An additional task given to the Division, which has been a source of pride and honor, is negotiating for the donation of lots highly recommended as sites or branch museums. The Butuan Regional Museum and Cagsawa Branch Museum were acquired by the National Museum through long and patient dialogues and negotiations made by Division Chief Efren G. Flores with their respective lot owners.
Providing technical assistance is one basic obligation of each division of the National Museum. In 1983, the Cultural Properties Division joined the Japanese War Memorial Mission in collecting the remains of Japanese soldiers who died in the Philippines during World War II. Recovered from the places visited were bones and skulls, a hand grenade, officer's stamp with stamp pad, buttons and heels of leather shoes. The remains were cremated for easy transport to Japan.
Technical assistance was likewise provided to an NGO, the Hamtic Historical and Cultural Foundation of Hamtic, Antique, on organizational development in 1997. The Division also assisted in the study of the ruins of an old church and their relationship to ancient granite slabs excavated in another church for historical purposes.
Indeed the Cultural Properties Division has come a long way since its beginnings. So much has been done and yet so much is still waiting to be accomplished. The main preoccupation of the whole team headed by Efren G. Flores, that of executing PD. 374, must be kept the thrust of the Division while finding new ways and methods of chasing violators. After all, chasing is one thing and bringing them to justice is another.
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