Talks by local experts included Professor Maricor Soriano’s imaging of Spanish-era maps of Metro Manila and Cebu in order to discover lost bodies of water, that may pose a threat to human life and cultural heritage during flooding events; Ms Maria Lourdes Po’s presentation on the importance of documentation in the everyday preventive care of collections, and how documentation can be mobilised to assist during disaster preparation and recovery efforts of collections; and Ms Josephine Francisco’s practical guide to caring for paper-based objects following disasters, including recommendations of equipment and resources. Mr Robert Balarbar exposed the resource realities of disaster response and the difference between the risks immediately after the event (event risks) and the risks to the collection after the initial allocation of funds, time and resources has waned (progressive risk). Engineer Jainab Aimee Tahil-Altillero argued the case for and provided an example of interdisciplinary teams and their benefits during disaster response.
The SEAMEO SPAFA session papers highlighted the myriad of disasters that collections in Southeast Asia have suffered, and the resilience and ingenuity used to prepare, salvage, and conserve collections for these events, including an inspired storage cage to secure objects during earthquakes presented by Ms Septina Wardhani. While the risks associated with flooding and potential for damage was highlighted by Ms Thi Anh Van Huynh from Vietnam and Ms Puangporn Srisomboon from Thailand, the latter who also demonstrated the necessity of understanding damage through conservation science in order to facilitate conservation of objects. Mr Thein Lwin from Myanmar presented the conservation and restoration works that have been undertaken on Bagan Cultural Heritage Region following the 6.5 magnitude earthquake in August, 2016. Mr Zamrul Amri bin Zakaria’s talk revealed how not all countries in the region have been devastated by natural disasters, such as Malaysia, but how all needed to have disaster plans in place in this era of climate change so that we can be prepared for uncertainties.
Other talks by Anne Carter, Christine Ianna, and Professor Robyn Sloggett highlighted the vulnerability of Australian collections to flooding, and the preventive and recovery efforts taken on an institution and community/personal level, and the importance of at-distance support networks. This was also echoed in the presentations by Ms Pattayarach Thamwongsa and Ms Wanvisa Woraward, whose talk was situated in the context of Thailand’s expansive network of local museums, and strategies for building capacity through dissemination of conservation and preservation knowledge in an accessible and relevant way. While informative presentations on seismic risk and preventive strategies were given by Ms Amy Heffernan of the Grimwade Centre.
We want to sustain this collaboration and continue these conversations. To this effect, we will upload some of the resource documents on the APTCCARN website shortly, and you can see the @aptccarn_ , @aptccarn, #aptccarn tags from the forum curated by Asialink Resident Rosie Cook now in Taiwan.
The local organising is thanked deeply especially Assistant Director Dr Ana Labrador of the National Museum and her team Engineer Jainab Aimee Altillero, Robert Balarbar, Camille, Michelle, Sunshine, and Dominic and the National Museum Field Office of Tagbilaran Ms Athena Vitor, Engr. and MC Joel Dahiroc, and Mr Charlie Tantingco.
Finally the forum was made possible with the support of the Australian Government through the Australian-ASEAN Council of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Diocese of Bohol and Provincial Government of Bohol. Four young Australian conservators continued their work in Bohol after the forum with the support of DFAT and Rosie Cook, Amy Heffernan, Elizabeth Long and Karen Wilcox will report on this soon.
Thank you everyone and until the next APTCCARN (so far we have been in Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan and Australia).