An afternoon of learning, exploration and journey to the past on selected heritage sites of the City of Manila, Valenzuela City and Quezon City was attended by the various stakeholders of Region 1 on November 25, 2021 via zoom.

Through the initiative of the Culture Sub-committee of the Regional Development Council (RDC-1), the virtual benchmarking activity aimed to strengthen the sense of pride being a Filipino, as well as learn from the experiences of the three cities in the implementation of policies and strategies on heritage conservation, preservation and promotion. The learnings and takeaways in the visit will serve as basis in crafting strategies to further Region 1’s efforts in upholding culture and heritage.

During the event, Mr. Jose Ma. D. Belmonte, Tourist Receptionist II of the City of Manila, virtually brought the participants to one of the oldest stone edifice in Intramuros, the Baluarte de San Diego. It was originally designed as protection on Manila at its bayside, now turned into an Al fresco garden and a landmark. Featured next was Casa Manila or Manila house, a lifestyle museum aimed at showcasing the domestic lifestyle of a native principalia during the Spanish regime. Next stop was the Fort Santiago, the 400-year old site that has stood as a witness to major milestone of Philippine history.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jonathan Balsamo, the head of the Cultural and Tourism Office of Valenzuela City presented their on-going restoration project via a 3D video of Polo Church and Bell Tower, a cultural and religious relic of the bygone Spanish era. The other on-going projects like the Dalandanan Aguas Potables, the Japanese Garden and the Museo de Valenzuela were also presented. He also shared their experience on conservation and restoration of the heritage sites of Valenzuela City such as the miraculous church of San Roque Chapel, Japanese Cemetery, Arkong Bato, Suhay Husay and the war artifact.

Quezon City presented through an AVP the life and works of President Manuel Luis Quezon, and the beautiful and historical churches like the Basilica Menore De Sanctuario De San Pedro Bautista, the oldest church in Quezon City and the Our Lady of Mercy Shrine Parish, where the oldest image of Nuestra Senora de la Merced is found. Other churches featured were the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, St. Joseph Shrine, Santa Rita De Cascia, Santo Nino Parish Diocesan Shrine, Cathedral Shrine and Parish of the Good Shepherd, the Saint Peter Parish, National Shrine of our Lady of Lourdes, among others. Other places of the city like the Quezon Memorial Shrine, La Mesa Eco Park, Presidential Car Museum, The Quezon Heritage House and other iconic landmarks and malls were also shown.

Apart from the virtual tour to the heritage sites, the City of Manila and Valenzuela City also discussed the on-going efforts and accomplishments of their cities in heritage conservation, preservation and promotion.
The virtual benchmarking activity was led by Dir. Manuel Jaramilla, the Culture Sub-Committee Chairperson. It was participated by 96 representatives from the regional line agencies, local government units, academe, private sector and non-government organization.