There are five destinations in the Philippines that are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. They are the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, the Banaue Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, the Historic Town of Vigan, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan, and the Baroque Churches of the Philippines – Santo Tomàs de Villanueva in Miag-ao, Iloilo; San Agustin in Paoay, Ilocos Norte; Nuestra Señora dela Asunción in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur; and San Agustin in Intramuros, Manila. These World Heritage properties relate a chapter of the Filipino story. They confirm the abundance of nature in the country and illustrate how Filipino creativity blossomed into a unique national architectural style. Philippine cultural landscapes in the Cordilleras demonstrate the resourcefulness of man in adapting to nature and establishing a sustainable method of coexistence.
The World Heritage Convention defines types of natural, cultural, or mixed properties that may be inscribed on the World Heritage List. Natural properties are sites of intense beauty that maintain the environmental balance of a region or of the world, or sites that show a unique geological origin that was made from the formation of the earth. Cultural properties are man-made and demonstrate the highest achievements of human thought and creativity. There are also mixed properties, called “cultural landscapes” on the World Heritage List, that combine outstanding natural and cultural values resulting from constant interaction between people and the natural environment.
All the properties in the World Heritage List represent milestones in the development of life in the universe. Natural properties record stages in the evolution of the world. Cultural heritage records the progression of man’s ideas in terms of the built environment. Cultural landscapes demonstrate how the hand of man can coexist with and enhance its natural surroundings. Properties on the World Heritage List are the shared patrimony of the world.