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A useful guide to cultural mapping




NCCA publishes ‘Cultural Mapping Toolkit A Guide for Participatory Cultural Mapping in Local Communities.’ PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF NCCA

Ian Cook and Ken Taylor describe “cultural mapping” as a “term used to describe the set of activities and processes for exploring, discovering, documenting, examining, analyzing, interpreting, presenting and sharing information related to people, communities, societies, places and the materials products and practices associated with those people and places.”

Their 2013 book, A Contemporary Guide to Cultural Mapping: An ASEAN-Australia Perspective, published by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, further notes that “a cultural map may be created as an end in itself or provide an input into another endeavor.”

It is perhaps in this spirit that the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) publishes a cultural mapping guide in the local context.

The 246-page book, Cultural Mapping Toolkit: A Guide for Participatory Cultural Mapping in Local Communities, is authored by cultural experts and researchers Nestor O. Horfilla, Lutgardo Labad and Arvin Manuel Villalon. It is edited by historian Rolando Borrinaga.


The book “Cultural Mapping Toolkit” is authored by cultural experts and researchers Nestor O. Horfilla, Lutgardo Labad and Arvin Manuel Villalon.

The book “introduces some significant guidelines on the conduct of cultural mapping and profiling as well as its implications to institute a Heritage Management Program of a particular community” geared towards creating cultural properties lists and using the output in sustainable development projects.

It lays out the information needed and the tasks to be undertaken in the mapping of natural, cultural, movable and intangible heritages as well as civic heritage, cultural programs of local government units (LGU), and significant personalities and institutions.

The book also discusses the cultural mapping of Capiz in 2015, the first major cultural mapping project of the NCCA and has mapping samples and forms that would let LGU and mappers alike to easily understand and execute the process. It likewise explains a number of research methods in obtaining data such as ethnography, historical research and oral history.

The ethics on conducting cultural mapping activities are also applied, including obtaining consent from interviewees, proper behavior personal integrity and respect for local culture.

An important resource material for more participatory cultural mapping endeavors, Cultural Mapping Toolkit is a significant work in a field that is slowly but surely gaining traction in the country. The book should serve as a vital guide in the surveying and documentation of significant heritages in every nook and cranny of the country.