Do you know what are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines? The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage sites are places of significant importance to either cultural or natural heritage around the world.
Since the Philippines’ inclusion to the convention last 1985, the organization has designated six sites in the country. Check the list below:
As part of the Spanish’s goal to spread Christianity during the 16th century, a number of churches were built in different cities, towns, and provinces. These four churches were among the first religious structures in the Philippines, and are easily identifiable thru their unique European architectural style.
Built between 1587 and 1606, the San Agustin Church is considered the oldest and longest standing church in the entire Philippines. The church was the only structure left intact in intramuros during WWII.
How to get there: The church is 13 kilometers away from the NAIA. It will take you approximately 40 minutes to get there by car.
Built in 1765 in the town of Sta. Maria, the fortress-style church sports an exposed brick facade and reinforced walls to protect it against earthquakes.
La Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion’s key features include an 85-step stairway that leads to a carving of the Virgin Mary atop a tree, and a bell tower which was added in 1810.
How to get there: From Manila, take a bus bound for Ilocos Sur. Once there, hop on a bus headed to any of the southern towns. Make sure to ask the driver if it is making a stop by the church as it is located away from the main road.
Also known as San Agustin Church, the Paoay Church is known for its extravagant coral-block buttresses and ornate stone finials.
The church’s bell tower was said to have been used as a Filipino watchtower during the 1898 uprising against the Spaniards.
How to get there: The fastest way to get to Paoay Church would be to take a flight to Laoag from Manila. From Laoag International Airport, take a jeepney headed towards Paoay Ilocos Norte.
Founded in 1871 under the advocacy of Saint Thomas de Villanova, the Miagao Church was originally built on the highest point of town to guards against invaders.
In order to preserve the structure, restorations were completed last 1962.
How to get there: Miagao is approximately one hour and 30 minutes away from Iloilo International Airport. From Manila, book a flight to Iloilo. Then, travelers can take a jeepney headed to Miagao from the Mohon terminal or the Iloilo Terminal Market.
With over 400 species of fish and 300 species of coral, the Tubbataha Reef is recognized as having the highest biodiversity in the world.
The 97,030-hectare Marine Protected Area is composed of two massive coral atolls, and one smaller coral structure.
Getting there: Since the site is over 10 hours away from Puerto Princesa, it can only be reached via a liveaboard boat. These boats stay out at sea for a minimum of four days.
The Rice Terraces are a prime example of a living cultural landscape and a thriving adaptable agricultural system that can be traced back to over 2000 years.
With just basic tools, the Ifugao were able to create a 10,360 square kilometer masterpiece and an advanced irrigation system that has long been a crucial figure in their economy.
Getting there: From Manila, travelers will need to take a 9-10 hour bus ride to Banaue. You can catch the Ohayami Transit Bus which has a station in Sampaloc Manila. Buses usually leave every evening at around 10pm.
Famous for its cobblestoned streets and colonial-style buildings, the historic city of Vigan is considered the best example of a preserved planned Spanish town in the entire Asia. It’s the only town in the Philippines that was spared from the World War II bombings.
Getting there: Vigan is an 8-10 hour car ride from Metro Manila via the MacArthur Highway. Travelers can choose to fly to the Laoag International Airport, which is an hour flight away from Manila.
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park boasts towering limestone karst cliffs and an eight kilometer long underground river.
This site in Palawan has one of the richest ecosystems in the country and is home to one of the most treasured forests in Asia.
Getting there: First, travelers need to fly to Puerto Princesa. From the city, travelers need to take a two-hour drive to Sabang Beach. From there, the boat ride to the Subterranean River will only take a few minutes.
This Mindanao gem is the only heritage site in the region, and the latest Philippine addition after a five-year drought. The wildlife sanctuary’s diverse number of endemic species and large number of flora and fauna are among the top reasons for its inclusion in the list.
Getting there: From Manila, book a flight to Davao. From the Ecoland Bus Terminal in Davao City, take a bus to the Municipality of Governor Generoso. The trip will take approximately 3.5 hours.
The country’s National Commission for Culture and the Arts in collaboration with other heritage agencies are the designated bodies in charge of nominating sites for the Philippines.
A site can only be officially declared as a UNESCO heritage site once the official step-by-step nomination process has been followed. Here’s how:
The Philippines currently has 19 sites on the tentative list, these include various cultural and natural wonders around the archipelago. The government has yet to submit an official nomination file for each site.
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