Each year, on April 18, the world celebrates World Heritage Day. This year’s theme is Heritage and Climate which is relevant and timely as the Philippines is identified as one of the countries most vulnerable to Climate Change.
Indeed, these past few years, the country had experienced stronger typhoons, rising sea levels, and increasingly unpredictable weather. As Filipinos brace for the effects of climate change, cultural agencies such as the National Museum of the Philippines continue their commitment to preserve, conserve and promote Filipino Heritage.
Earlier this month, the museum’s Director-General Jeremy R. Barns facilitated the acquisition and turnover of the Casa Rocha, a Spanish colonial period heritage house in Tagbilaran City’s Sitio Ubos, a hamlet located along the Tagbilaran Strait, just below the bluff where the St. Joseph’s Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace of the Catholic Diocese of Tagbilaran is situated.
Sitio Ubos, then close to the old wharf, was once the commercial district of Tagbilaran at the turn of the 20th century. The families who had settled there were major players in the business, particularly in shipping, inter-island trading, and retailing.
Over time, the center of business gradually moved to the upper part of town, and so too did the owners of the heritage houses of Sitio Ubos. Some of the houses were abandoned while others, like the Casa Rocha, were sold. Today, the heritage houses of Sitio Ubos, being of low elevation and very near the sea, are vulnerable to flooding and possible landslides.
Casa Rocha is one of five (5) heritage houses in the area collectively declared as Important Cultural Property by the National Museum in 2019.
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