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Archaeotourism in the Philippine Context

Introduction It can be argued that Archaeology in the Philippines has been a largely academic field. New findings and interpretations thereof are meaningful mostly to trained researchers and archaeologists belonging to government agencies like the National Museum and to academic institutions. However, increasing awareness of the historical and cultural context of the formation of a nation and a national identity is slowly drawing the field of archaeology out of the academe and into the consciousness of the everyday Filipino. This awareness has led to the integration of a public archaeology initiative by the Archaological Studies Program, led by Dr. Victor Paz. Paz defines public archaeology as the practice of archaeology with clear concerns to communicate with a living community connected geographically with the archaeological research area (Paz 55). We can see that the aim of the initiative is to go beyond archaeological findings as data to be recorded, studied and discussed within learned circles into a more practical use of them as being a part of a peoples history and cultural heritage. In his paper entitled Incorporating a Tourism Agenda in Public Archaeology Work (49-50), Dr. Jack Medrana groups these practical uses of archaeology into two sets: its appeal to a larger audience because of its portrayal in mass media, and its use in the valuation of heritage. The first consideration, the appeal of the adventurous aspect of archaeology as it is portrayed in movies and television, can be seen in the Harris Poll which demonstrated that archaeological resources and the archaeological process hold particular fascination for many members of the [American] public (qtd in ACHP Policy Statement 2). Because of the fact that our archaeology is not anywhere near as developed as American archaeology, there is not the same interest for it among the Filipino public. The second use of archaeology as cultural heritage can be seen in the public archaeology initiative of the ASP, and by the attempts of the National Museum to expose the public to Philippine archaeology through building regional museums. Laws for the conservation and protection of archaeological sites (like Republic Act 10066 or the Philippine Cultural Heritage Law) can further impress upon the public the value of these sites as part of our cultural heritage. This paper will look at one possible practical application for archaeology in the Philippines: Archaeological tourism or archaeotourism. It will examine its benefits in terms of public archaeology, and the issues that might arise in using archaeological resources for tourism. This paper will also consider how viable archaeotourism is as a potential tourism industry in our country and it will examine the factors to consider in determining whether an archaeological site can be used for tourism. Why Archaeotourism? According to Dr. Medrana (interview), archaeology in the Philippines is one of those disciplines that does not have a very high demand, nor a very high application component. The general public has an ignorant attitude towards agricultural materials and structures because they cannot see its practical use or relevance in their lives. The question archaeologists have to ask is how can we make archaeology

useful for the public so that they can learn to value it enough to participate in conservation efforts? The way to do this, according to his article, is to make archaeology necessary for them in terms of education, entertainment, and leisure, as well as in terms of their livelihood. The public should have their needs met through archaeology, and this can be done by using archaeological materials and structures for tourism. The American Institute of Archaeology defines archaeotourism as: Travel that focuses on visiting and experiencing ancient sites and historical places. [This] may include visits to museums, places of historical significance, historically and archaeologically focused parks, and even attendance to traditional dances, festivals, and other events (AIA 3). In archaeotourism, archaeological sites and artifacts are treated as heritage resources or assets, something that could prove useful for the economic development of the community connected to it and something that will be meaningful to their culture as well. If they see artifacts and sites in this manner, communities will be motivated to learn more about these resources. A connection will be forged between the site and its people, since if they learn more about it, the site will become meaningful to them as part of their history, cultural heritage, and identity. At the same time, this will foster a sense of ownership of the site, creating informed advocates and stewards for the protection and preservation of the resources among the people in the community (ACHP 2). Archaeotourism is a relatively new concept in the Philippines, and cannot yet be considered as its own separate tourism industry. In the case studies presented by Dr Medrana in his paper (56-57), municipal administrations that choose to develop archaeological sites for tourism usually have a plan for ecotourism or cultural tourism in mind. And Dr Paz points out that when the National Museum, the Department of Tourism and local government agencies made plans for the development of Lipuun point in Palawan, it was apparent that the agenda leaned more towards an ecotourism tradition rather than archaeotourism (56). The AIA Guide provides us with a brief rundown of some of the benefits of archaological tourism (4-5). The first of these is that archaeotourism cultivates an interest in the public to know about their past, and combines this passion for the past with a sense of adventure and discovery. It can also enrich our knowledge of our cultural heritage and educate communities about their culture and history (Medrana 60). The second benefit of archaeotourism is revenue. Revenue from entrance costs and other fees charged to tourists can go towards maintain and preserving archaeological heritage, while the presence of the archaeotourism site can benefit small business owners in the locality and provide job opportunities for other members of the community. This goes back to the idea of archaeological heritage being treated as assets that are useful and beneficial to the lives of the people in the community. A well developed and maintained archaeotourism site can also attract attention from local and national governments and can lead to investments for the preservation and maintenance of the sites. This increased attention can also instill a sense of pride or identity in communities in the vicinity of the sites. It may encourage them to create programs to showcase their own history and culture for the

benefit of visitors to the archaeological sites. Tourists will also benefit from a well maintained archaeotourism site as when they leave they will have been exposed to and made aware of the heritage of the community they just visited. These five benefits listed in the AIA Guide can be generalized into two aspects: the economic and the heritage aspect of archaeotourism. The economic aspect focuses on the material benefits of archaeotourism for the immediate community, and the heritage aspect deals with how the locals will perceive the archaeology and its relation to their culture (Medrana interview). Issues in Archaeotourism There are, however, a few drawbacks in the economic aspect of the benefits of archaeotourism to a local community. In her paper on the Perceived Impacts on Indigenous Communities in Sagada, Dulnuan looks at the positive and negative impacts of the small scale community-based cultural tourism industry in Sagada. Although her focus on the paper is on cultural tourism, her findings can also be applicable for archaeotourism. One negative impact of cultural tourism has to do with the fact that tourism revenues are not distributed among all the members of the community. The tendency was that economic gains from tourism ventures were felt mostly by the few who have enough capital to set up business enterprises, like setting up small inns or making souvenir products. Meanwhile, the farmers of the community do not experience the benefits brought about by economic gains. In this case, instead of helping develop the local economy, tourism serves to propagate the inequality between the social classes in the community. And if the tourism industry in the area grows to a larger proportion and can no longer be supported by the local community, large corporations from the outside could come in and further disrupt the growth of the local economy by increasing the competition among business owners. And more tourists would mean that older, smaller structures will have to be torn down to make way for bigger infrastructures to increase the carrying capacity of the area. This of course is a complicated issue, and it will not be easy to arrive at a solution. However, Dr Medrana thinks that if NGOs or other non-profit organizations oversee the archaeotourism ventures in a community and build cooperatives, the profits from archaeotourism could be properly managed so that all will benefit from it (interview). Dulnuan also mentions the danger of cultural commoditization in communities. In the context of cultural tourism in the Cordillera, this can be seen in the practices in Baguio and Benguet where the locals dress up in their traditional costumes so they can charge tourists for pictures of them, and perform-or rather stage- their traditional rituals purely for the benefit of tourists. This cultural commoditization can also be seen in archaeotourism in the issue of misrepresentation of archaeological findings. In Incorporating a Tourism Agenda in Public Archaeology Work, Dr Medrana refers to this phenomenon as the Disney-fication of the past, in which information about the past is oversimplified to suit the wants of the tourist (McManus qtd in Medrana 52). In order to make archaeological resources seem more interesting to tourists, the interpretation presented to them are made more interesting and more exciting, at the expense of accuracy in presenting the actual data. When asked about whether this misrepresentation or Disney-fication has ever happened in archaeological sites in

the Philippines, Dr Medrana says that there is no instance of a distortion of interpretations in our archaeological sites (interview). In ASP field schools and other public archaeology work done in our country, whatever information is available will be put up for interpretation. As a matter of fact, the interpretation issue in the Philippines belongs to the other side of the spectrum. According to Dr Medrana, whereas archaeologists in other countries are asking the question of how they can make interpretations more accurate, and not dealing only with what is interesting and fantastical, the question Filipino archaeologists are asking is how can we make our interpretation more interesting to tourists? Apart from this issue of negative effects on the local economy, cultural commoditization and misrepresentation, there are also more tangible and more harmful issues that might arise should an archaeological site be used for tourism. We must bear in mind that archaeological resources are finite, fragile, and non-renewable (AIA 3). If the sites are damaged, vandalized, or looted by the tourists who visit them, the damage cannot be undone. A loss of archaeological resources will not only mean a loss of the assets for the economic development of the community, it will also mean a loss of part of their heritage and history. This is why the ACHP calls for proper stewardship of archaeological resources. The ACHP policy points out that while some archaeological resources may be especially appropriate and even desirable for public heritage tourism and education programs, other resources may not (ACHP 4). They suggest that in some cases, it is appropriate to use archaeological findings and artifacts in tourism programs, but the public should be kept away from the actual site. Instead, the local government can come up with other means of interpreting and presenting archaeological artifacts and interpretations thereof. For example, in Cagayan, artifacts, antiques, and fossils that were recovered from diggings in the province, instead of being put on display on the sites themselves, are exhibited at the Cagayan Museum and Historical Research Center at the Cagayan Capitol (Domingo 32). Here tourists can view the artifacts and the interpretations of the archaeologists of the National Museum without putting any strain or damaging the archaeological site. Tourists and tour operators must also remember that archaeological sites that they are visiting exist within a context of the environment and local communities (AIA 4). As such, a well developed and sustainable archaeotourism program would take into account the effect of the visitors on the natural environment and supports the preservation of the local culture (Cruz). Whatever activities that are done on the site must be cleared first with the local community as a gesture of respect. Looting and vandalism can also happen if archaeological sites are opened for tourism. Just at the beginning of this year, there was a report that foreign nationals visiting Ille Cave in Palawan had taken bones out of the cave (Mendoza). Fortunately, there are laws that have been laid out to protect and conserve archaeological and cultural resources. In the Philippines, this is covered by the Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act (RA 4846) and the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 (RA 10066). A few of the Prohibited acts of RA 10066 (Article XIII section 48) include destroying, mutilating, or damaging any heritage site, including archaeological and anthropological sites, exploring or excavating to obtain materials of cultural value without written permission from the National Museum and without the supervision of a certified archaeologist, and importing or selling stolen cultural property without proper registration and license. However, archaeological sites cannot always be guarded and

these laws are oftentimes not enforced properly. So the solution would be for tour operators and tourists themselves to watch out for any instances of looting and vandalism (AIA 5). The thrust for Sustainable Tourism Development Should the idea of archaeotourism gain some steam in the Philippine tourism industries, there are existing guidelines for best practices of using and visiting sites for archaeotourism from institutions in the United States that we can adopt. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) published a five-point set of principles in Archaeology, Heritage Tourism and Education that can guide the government and other agencies in their plans for incorporating archaeological materials in heritage tourism projects (3-6). The Guide to Best Practices for Archaeological Tourism, on the other hand, has a section on good practices for responsible archaeological tourism that can serve as guidelines not only for tourists who visit archaeological sites, but also for site managers, tour operators, and tour guides (AIA 11-16). The basic point that comes across these two guidelines is the importance of designing archaeotourism projects for sustainable tourism. The concept of sustainability here means meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtland Commission, qtd in Cruz). Fortunately, the Department of Tourism, in their Philippine Tourism Master Plan, outlines policies that emphasize the importance of sustainable tourism development in our country. And this sustainable tourism development does not merely refer to their main thrust, which is ecotourism, but on all tourism industries in the Philippines (Cruz). An archaeotourism program that adheres to this idea of sustainable tourism would have to maximize the use of local resources, emphasize the fact that the local communities are the owners of the site, and encourage the idea of tourism as a means to improve life in the community, promote national heritage, an heighten their sense of national identity and unity (Cruz). Dr Medrana also pointed out the importance of involving the local community in archaeotourism work (interview). The tradition of the UP-ASP leans toward discovering, documenting, and interpreting archaeological artifacts with the development of a natural archaeological culture as the end in view. So when it comes to interpreting data and artifacts found in an archaeological site, the immediate audience of the ASP is the local community, not the academic circles or possible tourists. This adheres to the public archaeology ideal of making people feel that what has been uncovered is part of their heritage and part of their community (Paz 62). The local community is made to understand the interpretation first before any interpretations for the benefit of outsiders are created. This goes back to the idea mentioned at the beginning of the paper of locals becoming stewards and advocates for the preservation of archaeological resources. In the context of archaeotourism, a local community that is empowered to relate to the archaeology and that has understood the interpretation by archaeologists and can connect this to their present culture will be invaluable as resource persons if the area is developed for archaeotourism. Conclusion

Archaeotourism is considered by Dr Medrana as the most viable and workable enterprise that utilizes archaeological resources for practical ends, namely the growth of the local economy (51). But so far, the model of archaeotourism has not been widely used in our country. This can be traced back to the fact that we are not generally known for our archaeology. And in terms of tourism, our country is better known for its beaches and for its cultural heritage in the form of indigenous communities and grand festivals (Medrana, interview). Since archaeotourism cannot possibly compete as an industry with ecotourism and cultural tourism in our country, other ways of encouraging its development in our country has to be found. One possible way is by grouping it together with ecotourism and cultural tourism. For instance, the Callao cave is known mostly as an ecotourism destination, but tour organizers can integrate archaeotourism into the itinerary of tourists who go there. And though the Ille cave in El Nido is has not yet received the same attention as the Tabon Cave complex, it has been listed as one of the lesser attractions in its area (Medrana 58). Hopefully, by gradually introducing archaeological sites in guidebooks and package tours, they will eventually gain fame as an archaeotourism attraction. In Dr Medranas opinion, it is possible for archaeotourism to reach the heights of ecotourism in our country, but archaeological and academic institutions like the National Museum and the ASP will have to find a way to encourage the communities and small business owners in the vicinity of the sites to take an interest, and this can be done by educating them about these resources through public archaeology work (interview). There is also a vital need to strike a balance between the economic and heritage aspects of archaeotourism sites. If archaeotourism sites are developed with the focus mainly on the economic aspect or the growth of the local economy without looking at the soul of the community (Medrana interview) and the relationship of their culture with the archaeological resources, there will be no connection between the resources and the community that is supposed to be its protectors and stewards and these sites will eventually fall into disrepair. On the other hand, if you focus only on the cultural or heritage aspect of a site and not using it for the economic development of the community, the site will still get damaged and abused by the community. Having a heritage connection with an archaeological site is well and good, but if the people in the community where the site is located are going hungry, they will lose their interest in the heritage aspect of the site and possibly abuse it at the expense of cultural resources, like looting the site and selling the artifacts. A proper balance between economic considerations and heritage considerations is absolutely necessary for the conservation of the site. Dr Medrana is optimistic about archaeotourism in our country. All that is really needed is proper planning and the awareness that archaeology is not just for the practitioners and for the academe, but for all Filipino people.

Works Cited Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. ACHP Policy Statement: Archaeology, Heritage Tourism, and Education. ACHP. n.d. PDF file. 21 Sep. 2012. <> Archaeological Institute of America, Archaeology Magazine and Adventure Travel Trade Association. A Guide to Best Practices for Archaeological Tourism. Archaeological Institute of America. n.d. PDF file. 21 Sep. 2012. <> Cruz, Reil G. Towards a Sustainable Tourism Development in the Philippines and other ASEAN Countries. Makati: Philippine APEC Study Center Network, 2003. Domingo, Jim. Getting Around Cagayan: Grand Vacation & Great Discoveries. Cagayan: North Point Printing, 2001. Dulnuan, Juline R. The Perceived Impacts of Tourism in Indigenous Communities: A Case Study of Sagada Province. Makati: Philippine APEC Study Center Network, 2003. Medrana, Jack G.L. Incorporating a Tourism Agenda in Public Archaeology Work. Hukay Volume 16 (2011): 49-63. Medrana, Jack G.L. Personal interview. 8 Oct. 2012. Mendoza, Victoria A. Ille Cave in El Nido gets support from legislator as heritage park. Philippine Informational Agency. n.p., 6 May 2012. Web. 5 Oct 2012. Paz, Victor. Public Archaeology in Mindoro and the Improvement of a Philippine National/Cultural Consciousness. Proceedings of the International Seminar on Archaeology and Nation Building (2007): 52-65. Republic Act No. 10066. Congress of the Philippines. n.d. PDF file. 25 Sep. 2012. <> Republic Act No. 4846. Supreme Court E-library. n.d. Web. 25 Sep. 2012. < 843d74959b60fd7bd646a14b6344df6>