random writings

A Heritage Mapping Volunteer’s Postscript

After one year of serving as a volunteer for the Wikimedia Philippines Heritage Mapping Project, my tenure has officially ended last May 1.

To say the least, it has been a wild ride (especially towards latter half of my run) in which I have learned some new things and gained new insights that are both good and bad. Pardon me if I’ll be waxing some nostalgia in this piece from time to time.

A year ago, I was one of those wide-eyed folks who you can say have that sense of idealism and passion for the country and its heritage. But then again, I always have this passion for heritage as can be seen in this site. Still, being one of the chosen volunteers who went through that 3-day workshop was an eye-opener as I got to learn and harness Wikipedia as a tool for learning, the mini-Wikiexpeditions we went to and the long nights creating our first articles and entries in the Philippine Heritage Map.

In my capacity as a heritage mapping volunteer for that one year period, I managed to explore the highlands of Boso-Boso in Antipolo, checked out Taytay’s old town proper, got to learn more about Manila’s Santa Ana district, (which included a visit to the historically significant Lichauco House) joined a Wikiexpedition to the heritage-rich Sariaya town, (which I plan to do a repeat visit since that time I was there was too “bitin” for me) and traveled twice to Cavite to visit the under-the-radar heritage landmarks in Naic and Maragondon.

Us volunteers at the Lichauco House in Santa Ana, Manila with the matriarch Ms. Jessie Lichauco
Us volunteers inside the Gala-Rodriguez House in Sariaya, Quezon

I was also glad to have met new people along the way who shared the same zeal for Philippine heritage, some of whom are even more passionate than I am admittedly. Through them, I got to learn new things and made new connections that may not have been possible before.

I am also proud of the output I was able to make thanks to this project, having created some new Wikipedia articles and uploaded new photos that I’m glad that some have been able to make use of. Though I have to admit that those efforts were not as much as I hoped to make due to things that came up, which I’ll detail in some way a bit later.

the first Wikipedia article I created, which I made as part of the Heritage Mapping project

I am also thankful to be exposed to the troubles of being in this type of advocacy. With that, I do not just mean the not enough support government and other groups is giving to promote and preserve Philippine heritage. I am also talking about the conflicts and intrigues within the heritage advocates themselves. I myself was on the receiving end of a dismissive retort from a known heritage advocate nonetheless of the work we volunteers are doing since it’s redundant and they have their own documentation anyway which they plan to release. And last I checked, that documentation he was talking is still not published yet. Huh.

Within our group, there have been some “challenges” as well that came up as went on. Without saying much, these challenges changed the face of the project in some respects that it may have affected how it turned out when the project came at its end. That’s not to say the project was a failure. In fact, there have been some significant achievements. But who knows what more could have been done had those challenges not come up.

As for the future of the project, it will be up to the Wikimedia Board as to the next steps that will be taken. As for me, I am supportive of any endeavor that will help promote and preserve Philippine heritage, whether by the Wikimedia Foundation or any group for that matter, though I cannot say my commitment to be hands on in any future project is a guarantee. On my end, I found myself being preoccupied with other important matters that I may not have the luxury of time and commitment as before.

Nevertheless, I still remain an advocate for Philippine heritage. I always have been especially through my efforts here in this site. Besides, I am still and will remain a part of the Wikipedia community and I will contribute whatever and whenever I can for the sake of knowledge that would be accessible to all.

Let me express my utmost gratitude to those who were part of the project, past and present, those who have been supportive of this endeavor, and to my fellow volunteers for this unique experience that I will always treasure. It is not often when you get to be part of something great that will benefit the country and the people today and in the years to come. I will be always be grateful to have somehow helped make it happen in some way. There is still a lot of work to be done as far as documenting Philippine heritage is concerned, but I hope the work continues.


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