Home » People and the sea: A values perspective in the conservation management of maritime heritage in the Philippines

People and the sea: A values perspective in the conservation management of maritime heritage in the Philippines

ABSTRACT

As demonstrated in archaeology, underwater cultural heritage (UCH) has provided significant contributions towards the understanding of heritage connections across the globe. However, the development of the discipline in the Philippines has also been hampered by confusing legalities, treasure hunting activities, and financial constraints that diminish the influence of its impact and potential reach. More so, the effects of natural hazards, climate change, and other human activities on UCH have not yet been fully documented, making it more susceptible to potential threats and destruction. The COVID-19 pandemic makes archaeological campaigns and monitoring even more difficult. These considerations make Philippine UCH vulnerable and raise questions whether its contribution will still be relevant for the present and future generations. This article provides a status update of underwater archaeological activities and synthesises the challenges of managing UCH in the Philippines in the past 40 years. It outlines the practices, partnerships, and transitions made by various stakeholders in response to the growing discipline and community interest. This article problematises the value ascription of these stakeholders to UCH as seen in conventional arrangements, development of policies, and bureaucratic set-ups. The applicability of the values-led theory and the peoplecentred management model is examined given the traditional valuing of UCH that is material or fabric-based. The gaps pointed here are opportunities to build a shared stewardship view that connects UCH in the entirety of people and the sea wellbeing.

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