While it is imperative that the Filipino people be able to build a better future, it is equally important to know, if not to celebrate the rich cultural heritage and history of the Philippines as well. The cultural heritage of the Philippines is rich and deep as is evidenced by the Indigenous People and their many celebrations and festivals. The Philippines itself is unique in its blend of cultures from around the world and the resultant blend and distinctly Filipino culture that has been born of that. Its history however, is even richer, if such a feat is possible. The history of the Philippines through the twentieth century alone has left an indelible imprint on the history of the entire world. Tracing that history back and looking at the role of the Philippines in the “ancient” trade routes and the interaction of the Native and Indigenous Filipino people and it is a much deeper and even richer heritage. Still further back is the history, often intermingled with legends and tales, of the Kingdom of Maharlika. Such a rich culture and history needs to be celebrated, heralded and most importantly, remembered and recorded for posterity.
There can be little doubt that the entire infrastructure of the nation needs to be modernized and brought on par with the industrialized nations and global world powers. Only from an equal footing will the Republic of the Philippines be capable of reclaiming its rightful place as a world power. Negotiations are under way and plans being made and put into place to make that happen. However, it is very important that the Philippines also retains not only its sovereignty, but its unique cultural and historical heritage. Towards this end, GIDIFA is implementing different programs throughout the nation. The restoration and preservation of culturally and historically important sites is long overdue. Furthermore, the introduction of new programs to help enlighten the people and enthrall the visitors to these sites should be given a priority as well.
Along with the historical restoration, will be the development of programs to create what are commonly known as “Living History Sites”. These locations will be fully housed and operated by “reenactors” who will live their daily lives in much the same way as they would have during the relevant periods in time. In such cases where it is possible, these Living History Sites will be built on the same grounds and in the same buildings wherein the history took place. If these locations are not fully suited to the needs of such an undertaking, large swathes of land nearby will be purchased and the historical periods will be reconstructed as accurately as possible. They will then be populated by volunteers who will spend as much time as they can at these sites. In addition to the “every day people” living there, these locations will be home to museums, historians and even story-tellers.
These sites will then be opened up to tourists, and in most cases, the visitors will be able to browse around and get a more intimate knowledge of history. In cases where it may be viable, additional facilities may be built to allow the tourists and visitors to spend a day or two actually living in the same manner that those from that period did. They would of course, be assisted by the reenactors and others in these sites, but would by and large, be able to leave with a much better understanding of and appreciation for the rich history of the Philippines. Field trips will be funded so that school children can get to know more about their local and national history and in cases wherein it would be allowed by the schools and the parents, they may even be invited to participate and live in these locations overnight or even for a weekend or more.
While there is still some debate as to whether or not it is a viable option, there is at least some talk of creating entire theme parks and resorts specifically around cultural and historical sites in the Philippines. Such talk is premature at this early stage, but it does make for some very interesting possibilities to consider. Given the prevalence that Malaysia has taken in world-class tourism in conjunction with its national penchant for golf, it may not be a bad idea, especially if it can be utilized for the training and job placement programs for the formerly impoverished, indigent and other underclass citizens. If history has imparted any lessons worth noting, it should be that the best guarantee of a strong and prosperous nation is guaranteeing that everyone has an equal opportunity to follow their dreams!