In March and early April 2017, I joined the organising committee for the 5th Asia-Pacific Tropical Climate Conservation Art Network Event on Bohol Island in the Philippines. With a focus on natural disasters, the three-day event explored themes of knowledge-sharing and decision-making alongside local communities, who are often the most passionate about preserving their heritage and yet do not always have access to conservation training or materials. In addition to lightning talks and presentations from participants across the Asia-Pacific region, several workshops were held on-site at churches which had suffered severe damage or even complete destruction during the 2013 Bohol Earthquake.
One of my responsibilities during the event was to create content for social media, as it is a pet passion of mine to use Instagram and Facebook to document conservation and cultural heritage, as easily accessible and very visual forms of public outreach that can transcend language barriers. Alongside our social media accounts (Instagam, Facebook and Twitter) I created the hashtag #aptccarn5 as a way of gathering together broader experiences of the event on Instagram and Facebook, and we encouraged other participants to share their experiences, photos and thoughts throughout. It was also a great way of sharing with other Australian conservators back home in Melbourne, who couldn’t make it out to the Philippines!
It was a real honour and pleasure to meet the individuals who have painstakingly made every effort to salvage, repair and rebuild the moveable Church heritage in Bohol. I spent the most time in the Church Parishes of Loboc and Maribojoc, where we were given a warm welcome as I and three other emerging conservators tried our hands at providing support and information to the dedicated and passionate caretakers. I hope that our input was helpful in finding solutions to the challenges of the salvage and rebuilding processes, and I can’t wait to return to Bohol in the near future to see how we can continue supporting these brave and dedicated communities.