RAFI, ICOMOS Philippines Upholds Culture and Heritage In Cebu


Culture and heritage serve as the unifying threads that bind every member of the community together – a collective identity that transcends individual differences. In a country as vulnerable to extreme natural events and disasters as the Philippines, where typhoons and earthquakes pose significant threats, it is imperative to safeguard heritage sites that serve as markers of historical significance.

The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI) who has been advocating for the preservation and promotion of Cebuano culture and heritage signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Council on Monuments and Sites Philippines, Inc. (ICOMOS PH) on March 15, 2024. Through this partnership, the aim is to provide support in disaster management and protection for sites in Cebu.

As part of this effort, a National Training Course on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage will be implemented to celebrate and uphold Philippine heritage to the highest standards. Recognizing the importance of culture and heritage in nation-building, the partnership seeks to encourage greater involvement and support for local culture and heritage. Working closely with communities, the partnership ensures that activities are inclusive, raises awareness effectively and offers realistic, sustainable solutions to conservation challenges.


(From left to right) RAFI Heads, Marie Sol Gonzalvo, Executive Director of the Social Well-being Cluster, and Amaya A. Fansler, President and CEO, alongside ICOMOS Heads, Dr. Cheek S. Fadriquela, Chairman and President of ICOMOS Philippines, and Joselito “JJ” H. Corpus, Head of Communications, sign a Memorandum of Understanding for Culture and Heritage in Cebu.

Apart from this, the engagement aims to gather data on cultural and heritage practices in the Philippines to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. It highlights the role of Filipino culture and heritage in advancing these goals and seeks to track how they contribute to achieving all 17 SDGs.

Additionally, with the hopes to strengthen the community’s identity and awareness on Intangible Culture Heritage (ICH), a documentation and study on Cebuano ICH will be implemented, highlighting on the numerous traditions and customs passed down through generations.

“It is with immense joy and gratitude to celebrate this significant milestone of forging a strong partnership. Partnerships are not about a contractual agreement but are about shared values and a common vision, a vision of Philippine heritage conservation practice that is celebrated and upheld to the highest standards and fosters the well-being of the people. From the very beginning we recognize the potential of working hand in hand. As we move forward, let’s keep our lines of communication open, listen and learn. Our partnership is not just about conserving heritage but also about shared dreams, resilience, and the pursuit of excellence for the well-being of our country and our people,” Dr. Cheek S. Fadriquela, ICOMOS Philippines Chairman and President shared in his acceptance speech.

Leveraging on past lessons for a viable and sustainable future, RAFI and ICOMOS Philippines will work together to share essential and valuable information to advance conservation practices and causes. Furthermore, the partnership hopes to rally for more participation by other like-minded organizations and individuals on causes for the development of culture and heritage conservation.


Solidified. A handshake between RAFI President and CEO, Amaya A. Fansler, and ICOMOS Philippines President, Dr. Cheek S. Fadriquela officially seals commitment to shared advocacy for Cebuano culture and heritage.

“RAFI has always believed in working in partnership with other stakeholders, other organizations and other people and we do so through shared values and dreams. I’d like to thank you [ICOMOS Philippines] for putting your trust in RAFI to carry out these projects. I am confident that our visions and aspirations are aligned, and that we are all moving in the same direction. In RAFI, we talk about the bugsay, and how each of us has our own bugsay which we call the skills, resources, and abilities that enable us to move forward. And when we use these bugsays together, we can reach that common destination. We look forward to bugsay with you for the benefit of Cebu, the Cebuanos and the Philippines,” Amaya A. Fansler, RAFI President and CEO expressed in her speech.