Welcome Message from the 5th APTCCARN Meeting | Natural Disasters & Cultural Heritage in the Philippines: Knowledge Sharing, Decision Making & Conservation

From the 5th APTCCARN Organising Committee

Dr Ana Labrador, Founding Member APTCCARN and Assistant Director, National Museum

Dr Nicole Tse, Founding Member, APTCCARN and the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, The University of Melbourne

Claire Grech, 5th APTCCARN Organising Committee and PhD Candidate, the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, The University of Melbourne


Welcome to the 5th APTCCARN Meeting in Tagbilaran City, Province of Bohol, hosted by the National Museum, Philippines, in collaboration with the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, the University of Melbourne and the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO SPAFA).

Since the Asia Pacific Tropical Climate Conservation Art Research Network’s (APTCCARN) inauguration in 2009 at the Balai Seni Negara (National Art Gallery in Malaysia), we have held meetings at the University of Melbourne in Australia, Silpakorn University in Thailand, and Cheng Shiu University in Taiwan. APTCCARN was established in recognition of the need to support a geographically focussed practice of cultural materials conservation in the Asia Pacific and a maturing discipline. Over eight years APTCCARN has built a community of practice from which approaches are emerging and revealing important information about the culture and conditions in the region. It was during the 4th Meeting in Taiwan that the impetus for this meeting arose, where delegates felt the urge to take the knowledge that had been shared and take action in an area of significant need.

This meeting’s focus on the effect of natural disasters on cultural heritage, people, and places is more than pertinent. Here in the Province of Bohol, Philippines, the impact of the 2013 earthquake at 7.2 magnitude is clearly evident, which was soon followed by Typhoon Haiyan and its devastating effects across the Philippines. During the forum, we will hear the stories of the real events, journeys, and future aspirations, being central to the lives of Boholanos. Cultural materials conservation only has purpose as a mindful community of practice and one that is engaged with people, diverse communities, and the global society. So the intended focus of the 5th APTCCARN forum is on people‐to‐people linkages across a diverse range of skills, capabilities, and experiences of cultural heritage recovery and disaster management, in Bohol, Southeast Asia, and beyond. This is critical to the salvage, rehabilitation, and sustained management of Bohol’s cultural assets and heritage, and assets wider afield that will be presented here at the forum.

We know that Southeast Asian nations continue to be among the most vulnerable to climate change, including increases in frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Reported disasters have risen sharply in the recent decade according to the World Disasters Report 2005 of the International Red Cross 2005. The Asia-Pacific region itself is ‘highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and national hazards’ and the Asian Development Bank has ‘pointed out that ‘heat waves, droughts, floods, and tropical cyclones have been more intense and frequent, causing extensive damage to property, assets, and human life’ (Parr, La Viña & Henry 2016, p. 2). While in 2013, most forum participants would know that the Philippines was ranked on the Global Climate Risk Index as the most affected country by extreme weather events, and was ranked 5th overall on a twenty-year time scale (1994-2013). People, places and cultural assets are vulnerable, subject to unpredictable events and uncertainty, which strikes at the core aims of cultural materials conservation, and what we hope to sustain and manage.

So this forum, led by community knowledge holders and cultural heritage practitioners, aims to share recent experiences of natural disasters and cultural heritage recovery projects to communicate and generate ideas around cultural heritage management and its associated uncertainties. With a primary focus on movable cultural heritage, discussions and presentations will include active participation and learning for Asian Pacific participants working in the field of cultural heritage and education, as well as local and international heritage professionals, interested individuals, and Parish communities. It is through these study visits, sharing sessions, group activities and presentations, that meaningful exchanges will take place, and strengthen and expand the APTCCARN network.

The 5th APTCCARN Committee is delighted that the National Museum is hosting this event. Dr Ana Labrador and the local organising committee have worked tirelessly over the past year to arrange the event details to its perfection. Hosting an international event like this takes a lot of commitment and attention to detail, and we deeply thank them. We thank Dr Rujaya Abhakorn, Centre Director of SEAMEO SPAFA, and staff for his opening speech and engaging vision of cultural heritage in the region. Further thanks is extended to our Keynote Speaker, Father Milan Ted Torralba. We thank the Province of Bohol, the parishes of Maribojoc, Cortes, Antequera, and Baclayon for hosting us, and insightful welcome speeches from Governor Edgardo Chatto, and of course Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr, known for his strong and faithful presence in Bohol. Lastly thank you to Diocese of Bohol and Bishop Alberto S. Uy for supporting the forum and making us feel welcome, and our major sponsor the Australian ASEAN Council. Thank you to all speakers, chairs and participants for attending the 5th APTCCARN Meeting on ‘Natural disasters and cultural heritage in the Philippines: Knowledge Sharing, Decision Making and Conservation’. We look forward to the sharing of knowledge and future exchanges.

Download the program here.



• Kreft, S, Eckstein, D, Junghans, L, Kerestan, C & Hagen, U 2015, Global Climate Risk Index 2015 Who suffers most from extreme weather events? Weather-related loss events in 2013 and 1994 to 2013, Briefing Paper, GermanWatch e.V., 32pp, <http://germanwatch.org/en/download/10333.pdf>

• International Red Cross 2005, World Disasters Report, International Red Cross.

• Parr, B, La Viña, AGM & Henry, D 2016, Philippines climate change agenda: High vulnerability! High ambition?, Briefing Paper 4, Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, 16pp,< www.sustainable.unimelb.edu.au>.

Originally published online 19 April, 2017