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Sep 29th
Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Senator Pimentel Seeks Recovery of Cultural Treasures Carted Away by Foreign Colonizers
Senator Pimentel Seeks Recovery of Cultural Treasures Carted Away by Foreign Colonizers PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 16:06

S enate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) urged the government to take aggressive steps for the recovery of Philippine cultural and art treasures that were carted away by foreigners during the colonial era.


Senator Pimentel proposed that the National Commission for Culture and the Arts should be empowered and given additional funding to undertake efforts for the return of these priceless historical artifacts and artistic works as part of the legislation providing for the protection and conservation of the national cultural heritage which has just been passed by the Senate.


He also called for stronger government action to stop the looting of precious Philippine artifacts by foreigners who sell them to museums, arts and auction houses and commercial outlets abroad.


“The NCCA should be adequately equipped to pursue efforts to recover artifacts that were stolen and smuggled out of the country by Spanish, American and Japanese invaders and colonizers” the minority leader said.


Senator Pimentel deplored that the government has been trying to recover – with no visible results -- the three church bells that were taken away by American occupation troops from Balangiga town in Samar in 1901 and brought to a military base in Wyoming, Iowa, in the United States where they were put in display as war booties.


“While American government officials were sympathetic to our plea for the recovery of the Balangiga bells, certain sectors in the US society have successfully blocked their efforts to help us get back these bells,” he said.


The senator from Cagayan de Oro pointed out that the laws of war exclude the confiscation of non-war materials like the Balangiga bells which were obviously of religious, rather than of military significance.


Senator Pimentel also noted that those opposed to the return of the Balangiga bells were war survivors or descendants of American soldiers who fought the Filipino insurrectionist forces in the early 1900s.


Senator Pimentel said during the Senate plenary debates on the proposed National Cultural Heritage Act, it was mentioned that the Golden Tara, a most precious historic artifact of a Hindi deity made by artisans in Agusan, were taken by American archeologists and transported to a museum in Chicago.


He also underscored the need to preserve and protect the archeological sites and relics, monuments, churches and other structures of historical and cultural significance.


Senator Pimentel lamented that the Huluga caves in Cagayan de Oro, containing rare metal age artifacts, were destroyed a few years ago to give way to the construction of a bridge.


He also said it would be a good step to identify important historical places all over the country that should be preserved for posterity.


The veteran legislator noted that the first victory of Filipino freedom fighters against the American invaders took place in Cagayan de Oro when they successfully ambushed a company of US soldiers who were camped in a house along Archbishop Hay street.


“I believe that the site should be preserved if only to remind the Filipinos of the past. The NCCA, along with the National Historical Commission and other government agencies concerned, should be more proactive by reaching out to people who have knowledge of historical sites and events that should be preserved,” Senator Pimentel said. # # #

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 February 2009 16:07

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