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NCCA denies petition to delist temple as Important Cultural Property

PAO ONG HU TAOIST Temple in Sta. Ana, Manila

THE NATIONAL Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has denied a petition to delist the Pao Ong Hu Taoist Temple in Sta. Ana, Manila as an Important Cultural Property (ICP).

An Important Cultural Property is one that has been determined as possessing “exceptional cultural, artistic, and /or historical significance” to the country. It is the second highest level of protection after the classification of National Cultural Treasures. The determination is made by the NCCA, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP).

According to a statement released by the NCCA on Oct. 27, the Pao Ong Hu Taoist Temple had been declared as an ICP under NMP Resolution No. 03-2016. “The temple is located just behind the Parish Church of Our Lady of the Abandoned (Sta. Ana Church), which is a declared National Cultural Treasure,” said the statement, which noted that “It features two rooms dedicated to two different personas, one for Pao Kong — a Taoist God, and for Guanyin — a female deity resembling the image of Virgin Mary.”

The NCCA had received a petition from Chloe Go on Aug. 8, 2020 to delist the Pao Ong Hu Taoist Temple. Ms. Go filed a petition giving the following reasons for delisting the temple: 1.) that the previous and current owner had no knowledge of the ICP status of the structure, as there was no indication that the property was already declared an ICP; 2.) that the property was turned over to Ms. Go by the previous owner devoid of any artifacts; 3.) that the declaration of the property as an ICP blatantly disregards the principles of due process, as no public notice and/or hearing has been done; and, 4.) that after declaring the structure as an ICP, the concerned Registry of Deeds was not notified.

In the NCCA statement it explained that, “Pursuant to Sec. 8 of Republic Act No. 10066 and Section 11 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations, the NCCA posted a public notice online to invite support or opposition from various stakeholders regarding the filed petition. This public notice was posted on Jan. 8, 2021 with a deadline set on Jan. 29, 2021.

“Moreover, this Commission requested the comments of the National Committee on Monuments and Sites (NCMS), National Committee on Architecture and Allied Arts (NCAAA), Manila Heritage Tours Sta. Ana, and the local government unit of the City of Manila. The NCAAA asserted that while the said property is culturally significant, it has deteriorated so much that its architectural significance has been compromised. The Manila Heritage Tours Sta. Ana and the City of Manila have not given any position regarding the matter.”

Given this, the NCCA said, “After due deliberation and careful evaluation, the petition to delist the Pao Ong Hu Taoist Temple as an ICP was dismissed on Sept. 16, 2021 for lack of legal and factual justifications as per NCCA Board Resolution No. 2021-312. Furthermore, the declaration of the Pao Ong Hu Taoist Temple as an ICP will be duly registered in the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property and the installation of the declaration marker be implemented accordingly.”

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