She is so beautiful. You can never get tired of looking at her. She makes the sky bow down to her. She stands tall and proud of where she is and what she represents. She is an endless, timeless symbol of what Mother Nature has given us. She does not stand there as a mere object for viewing pleasures nor as a mere background for photo ops; she stands there, confident of who and what she is. She stands there as an emblem, as an icon to her people. She makes every Albayano proud to be an “Oragon.”
Standing at 8,077 feet from the Albay Gulf, Mount Mayon has attracted the world with her beauty, her uniqueness, and her perfect shape. Her iconic image has captivated the eyes and hearts of millions around the globe through the years. Despite recording 49 eruptions for the last 400 years, she is still in perfect shape. But Mt. Mayon refuses to stop there as she is now being nominated to be one of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World Heritage Sites in the Philippines.
The Unesco World Heritage Site is the highest possible award that can be given to a certain place. Unesco recognizes the beauty of the world, whether it be natural or man-made, and this is one of the many things they do to make the world notice what should be noticed.
The Philippines currently has six Unesco World Heritage Sites: The Baroque Churches and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Cagayancillo, Palawan which were both awarded the title in 1993; the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, 1995; the Historic City of Vigan and the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, both recognized in 1999; and the most recent which was recognized just this 2014 is the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary located in the province of Davao Oriental.
Mt. Mayon will be the seventh recognized heritage site in the country if she clinches the award. But certain matters take time and effort.
Mt. Mayon would never have been nominated all on her own – of course, it is always with the help of her beloved citizens.
Albayanos are always proud of who they are and where they came from. That is why they do not mind the very tiring process of nominating Mt. Mayon as their job. Rather, they see it as their duty and their passion.
The Provincial Government of Albay is now proudly helping Mt. Mayon be hailed as the seventh Unesco World Heritage Site. Together with the Provincial Tourism Council of Albay Office (PTCAO), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), and some provincial government offices, the dream will become a reality. The project is mostly headed by the PTCAO as they are the ones handling the on-going project.
A member of the PTCAO Technical Working Group in the nomination of Mt. Mayon in the Unesco World Heritage Site said that they will be working on a thesis-like research paper that will be passed to the Unesco.
Kurt Randy Zepeda said that the paper will contain the description of Mt. Mayon, laws protecting the volcano, tourism plans, and the local government units’ plans regarding the management of Mayon.
The process may sound and look easy, but the people behind the scenes can argue otherwise.
Before Mt. Mayon was nominated, it had to be put into the Tentative List of Unesco Philippines. The so-called Tentative List is an inventory of the country’s known sites. Zepeda himself submitted the papers needed for Mt. Mayon to be on the Tentative List on December 2014. It was approved last February 2015 by the evaluation body to be on the Tentative List. Once Mt. Mayon was on the Tentative List of Unesco Philippines, it automatically became eligible to be nominated in the Unesco World Heritage Sites.
The Philippines has now 19 places on the Tentative List. 15 were up on the list since 2006 and three were put up last 2015 including Mt. Mayon.
Zepeda said that what pushed them to nominate Mt. Mayon, despite the very demanding work it will require, is the encouragement they got from Unesco and its evaluation body—the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
PTCAO also started to trek the mountain with the DENR, Phivolcs, and a counsultant from Mt. Hamigitan who is also helping Mt. Mayon be a world heritage site.
The trip was considered as very productive as it was joined by geologists, botanists, and trail guides who are all eager to help Mt. Mayon achieve the goal.
Zepeda said that the sight while climbing Mt. Mayon was unbelievable. He said that it was full of grasslands, forests, bonsai trees, and wild strawberries.
Although the trail is still not open for the public and not everybody can trek the mountain easily, it will be available soon; especially when Mt. Mayon is hopefully the seventh Philippine UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The title Unesco World Heritage Site is something that gives prestige not only to the site, but also to where it is located. If Mt. Mayon wins the award, the title will boost the pride of Albayanos more. The title will help the economy as more and more establishments near Mt. Mayon open because of the influx of tourists.
The Philippines is now too tainted with the western culture that our own culture is dying. We are all guilty of not recognizing what is ours. We choose to idolize other cultures more than our own. With Mt. Mayon being a World Heritage Site, we will be compelled to promote Mt. Mayon.
Being the Unesco World Heritage Site, Mt. Mayon will also be prioritized when it comes to funding.
Zepeda said that one of their plans once the volcano is given the title is the Mount Mayon Museum. The museum will showcase the history of Mt. Mayon. It will also show the times the volcano erupted. But of course it will mainly focus on promoting Mt. Mayon.
By promoting the volcano, we will also be promoting our culture. By recalling the disasters brought by the volcano, we will not be highlighting the deaths nor the anguished caused by the eruptions; instead, we will be emphasizing our resiliency that we always manage to get up whenever we fall down.
She has reminded her people through the years of what really matters. She will never be forgotten, for she knows how to remind people of who she is. She will forever be in the hearts of her people.
*in Bicol, masaringaya pertains to an environment well-maintained that its ecosystem is beneficial for all living creature within it.
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