The Center advances the concept of a heritage-driven development. A research intensive approach propels conservation science to be fertile ground for multidimensional development that benefits humanity and the environment. This advocacy is aligned with principles of international conventions and charters reflected in the practice of all the Center’s programs and projects. Other than the conventional formal education medium to promote and deepen heritage appreciation, the Center has embarked on a digital platform such as ‘Heritage Forum’ for academic-industry linkage and ‘ichphil@net’ for safeguarding the intangible heritage of the Philippines.
The Center extends technical assistance to heritage sympathetic agencies and organizations. It facilitates the mainstreaming of heritage in other functional disciplines to generate added values and economies. For years, the Center has served as the Secretariat of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church (ECCHC) to conduct the biennial church heritage conference. It has supported the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Philippine Cultural Education Program (PCEP) in the delivery of the Graduate Diploma in Cultural Education (GDCE). It has guided the Design Center of the Philippines (DCP) in its ‘Salimbago: Product Design and Entrepreneurship Development’ program and the Department of Tourism (DOT) Office of Manpower Training and Development in the Professional Tour Guiding modules.
The Center co-operates with the UST Graduate School Program for Cultural Heritage Studies, the UST Museum and Conservation laboratory and the Archivo de Universidad de Santo Tomas (AUST). This university ecosystem of cultural heritage facilities reinforces a robust culture of research to instill values of competence in the heritage profession. The Center upholds values-based, people-orientated, multi-disciplinary approach encompassing theoretical to applied research inquiries. The Center has produced numerous conservation management plans and infrastructure guidelines for built heritage, safeguarding plans for intangible heritage, tourism development plans for local government units and heritage impact assessment studies for contested sites.
The Center believes in the expansion of a person’s functionalities and opportunities that will enhance his development. Capacity-building refers to knowledge and skills development to instill heritage awareness, appreciation, protection and utilization. To effectively complement industry needs on the translation of heritage into other professions, the Center has partnered with the Graduate Center for Continuing Professional Education and Development (CCPED) to deliver CPE units in Education, Architecture and Interior Design. Considered as the capacity building flagship program, the Center pioneered the Cultural Heritage Mapping in 2000 as requisite of the Cultural Heritage Studies program. Eventually, the technique has been adopted and legislated to develop cultural heritage inventories all over the country. The Center has trained local government official, educators, researchers, youth, senior citizens, indigenous peoples and church workers. It has modified the technique to instill the discipline of research among mappers, to ensure community ownership and participation, to collate a meaningful database and to utilize data into community development projects.
The Center continues to pursue publication projects that enrich the scarce literature of Philippine heritage conservation and management. Documentation of heritage experiences provides a wealth of information and reference for professionals, students and enthusiasts. The Center has published the Curas de Almas Vols 1-4 (2008) and Of War and Peace: Bells Vol 2 (2009) by Prof Regalado Trota Jose, Pamanaraan (2008) by Prof Eric Babar Zerrudo, Kahoy (2013) by Prof Cheek Fadriquela and the Pintacasi Journal Series of the CBCP Church Heritage. Publications of Conservation Management Plans included he UST Main Building (2011) and the Buscada Chapel (2020) in Samar.
The Center coordinates the development of on site and off site interpretation centers for local governments and organizations. The system of curation upholds the contextual, multilingual and multidisciplinary approach. Interpretation centers are indispensable venues for World Heritage Sites and heritage places to communicate and promote the values of the place. The Center has developed the Vigan City Museum (VCM) in the Conservation Complex and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park Cave Interpretation Route. It has also developed the Quezon City Experience (QCX) Museum in Quezon City, Museo San Nicoleño in San Nicolas Ilocos Norte, Pilar Museum in Pilar, Bataan and the Culion Museum in Culion, Palawan.
The Center relates with local, national and international networks on cultural and natural heritage. It actively participates in the programs of the UNESCO World Heritage Center and its advisory bodies namely ICOMOS International, IUCN and ICCROM. It enables the writing of dossier for World Heritage nomination of Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL) and the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP). In the Asian context, the Center substantially contributes to the projects of UNESCO Bangkok and UNESCO Category 2 Centers namely WHITRAP and ICHCAP. It figures in the development of the heritage professionals competency framework for Asia and the Pacific. Locally, it also engages in collaborative projects with local national agencies, universities, church organizations and cultural heritage societies.