The NCCA has established the Cultural Mapping Program to help LGUs identify and account their cultural properties.The Cultural Mapping Facilitators meet with former Capiz Gov. Tanco for the Cultural Mapping Project in the Province of Capiz (July 2015)

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is the overall policy-making and coordinating agency for culture and arts. Moreover, the NCCA is tasked under Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, through the appropriate cultural agencies and local government units (LGUs), to establish and maintain the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP). Local Government Units are specifically mandated by the law to maintain an inventory of cultural property under its jurisdiction and to furnish the NCCA a copy of its local inventory. In order to help the LGU identify and account its cultural properties, the NCCA has established the Cultural Mapping Program to assist them in this endeavor.

Local Government Units that are interested in the Cultural Mapping project can coordinate with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) regarding the conduct of such activity. From being a simple seminar-workshop, it has expanded into a project in order to fully engage the community in documenting and in preserving their cultural properties.

What and why is Cultural Mapping important?

Fundamentally, cultural mapping is defined as “an approach used to identify, record, and use cultural resources and activities for building communities, where communities map what is important to them.” (Cook and Taylor, A Contemporary Guide to Cultural Mapping. An ASEAN-Australia Perspective)

Through the conduct of cultural mapping, the Local Government Unit (LGU) and other stakeholders can identify the distinct cultural resources of their community and at the same time can properly record a heritage resource for future reference. Moreover, the process can generate interest on heritage resources among users and non-users of cultural properties. Eventually, they can develop or establish a heritage conservation council who shall lead in the conservation of the local cultural heritage as well as develop legislation, bills, and guidelines for safeguarding the cultural heritage of the community.

The Objectives of the Cultural Mapping Project:

  1. To understand basic frameworks on culture and heritage in the context of RA 10066 and other laws and mandates;
  2. To appreciate the value of the various cultural resources of the community;
  3. To apply the different tools and methods for gathering, classifying, and analyzing local cultural data and information through the conduct of cultural mapping;
  4. To consolidate local culture profile and generate baseline data for cultural statistics;
  5. To recommend mechanisms to integrate profiles and baseline statistics in LGU development plans, programs, and activities.

The Stages of Cultural Mapping

The principal output of a cultural mapping activity is a local culture profile. Cultural mapping is an ongoing process. And many of its benefits can only be achieved through sustained efforts to update the cultural data and to compare it over time, which requires continued resources and ongoing partnerships. A cultural mapping project is implemented in distinct phases or stages discussed below.

Figure 1. The Cultural Mapping Phases

The Scoping and Negotiation Phase involves familiarizing the LGU requesting for the cultural mapping project, discussion of the needed participants, length of the project, and logistical requirements for the project. Basically, it would also be in this phase that the NCCA and the LGU would build partnership and commitment in the implementation of the project. A Memorandum of Understanding between the NCCA and the LGU shall be accomplished before the start of the cultural mapping project in the locality.

cultural mapping kalibo
Documenting archival documents at Museo it Akean included in the Training of the Local Cultural Mapping of Kalibo (November 2018).

In the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be executed between NCCA and the LGU, the roles and responsibilities of the partners are negotiated and clearly spelled out. Listed below are the commitments that the NCCA and the partner LGU will have to agree upon.

The NCCA shall:

  • Conduct capability-building workshop for cultural workers and artists who will conduct the cultural mapping;
  • Provide technical assistance and mentoring during the whole duration of the project;
  • Provide transportation for Workshop Facilitators to the locality;
  • Provide honoraria to the facilitators for the duration of the project;

The LGU shall:

  • Organize the participants for the project and ensure their continuous participation;
  • Provide logistical needs for the Training of the Local Mapping Team that would include but are not limited to:
  1. Venue for the training, team meetings and other gatherings related to the project
  2. Materials for the training (pens, paper, notebook, LCD Projector, computers for encoding, mapping kits, etc.)
  3. Local transportation and food of the local cultural mapping team during the workshops, fieldwork for the duration of the project
  4. Documentation devices (recorders, cameras, etc.)
  5. Pass ordinances or resolutions supporting the project;
  6. Ensure the continuous implementation of the project phases until its completion;

Please note that the requesting LGU should have an established local culture and arts council or a council functioning as such.

The second phase is the Social Preparation Phase where the LGU shall orient the various stakeholders of the locality of the objectives and processes of the cultural mapping project. They should also brief the intended participants/stakeholders of the project which includes the introduction of the Cultural Mapping Project, identification of mapping teams, identification of needs/logistics/concerns, logistical planning and identification of areas of the locality to be mapped.

Organizing and Mobilizing the Cultural Mapping Team (as part of the preparation for the Training)

Necessarily, an ideal unit for a cultural mapping project is a municipality. With its defined territorial jurisdiction and a manageable number of component barangays (cutting through a rural-urban continuum), it would be convenient for the team to complete the collection of pertinent data of its existing cultural resources. A city or a province requires more time and effort to map, while a barangay is too small to provide a bigger picture of the cultural heritage of a community.

Ideally, the members of a cultural mapping team must be inter-disciplinary and multi-sectoral. The number and competency requirements must be based on the specific conditions of the locale to include, the number of barangays, existence of multi-cultural communities, vastness of the area and the expected cultural properties to be profiled, among others. An ideal ratio would be one mapper per two barangays.

It might be necessary for the Local Chief Executive to issue an Office Order to organize the local cultural mapping team. Likewise, the order must designate a Local Project Coordinator from the ranks of department, office or Division Heads in the LGU.

The Local Project Coordinator shall take initiatives in convening and in communicating with the members of the mapping team and with the identified partners and communities. Likewise, he/she shall monitor the mapping process, arrange needed logistics, and seek the concerned departments in the LGU for updating and/or maintaining the cultural database.

A Lead Mapper shall be designated from among the members of the mapping team. The responsibility of the lead mapper is to oversee and to guide the team members in the collection, analysis, and consolidation of cultural data as well as in the production of cultural resource mapping outputs (e.g. maps, graphs, reports, online resources and other communications) within the agreed timelines.

The members of the cultural mapping team must be residents of the locality and may come from any of the following organizations or institutions:

  • Key LGU Officers (ENRO, MPDC, Tourism and Budget Officer)
  • Church officials and Barangay functionaries
  • Artists and cultural workers from the civil society
  • Development workers both from GO and NGO
  • Local Educators and other professionals (Librarians, local Historians, Architects, Engineers, etc.)

Identifying Potential Partners

The process of conducting cultural mapping is also a process of building and strengthening partnerships and collaborations. The establishment of a robust cultural database depends on generating and on sharing data as well as on sharing insights about the cultural data with various partners. Building successful partnerships involves identifying potential partners; agreeing on common objectives; developing strong working relationships; and establishing commitments and procedures for sharing.

All project partners should agree on the terms of reference which include the following elements:

  • Project overview and Project contacts
  • Purpose of the project, objectives, benefits and critical success factors
  • Project scope, phasing and timelines including budget
  • Terms of data use/ data privacy/ownership
  • Members of the local cultural mapping team and other project committees

Likewise, the Project Partners shall agree on the specific deliverables and identify the person(s) most responsible for:

a) Convening and communicating to the group;
b) Collecting and consolidating data;
c) Updating/maintaining data;
d) Analyzing data; and
e) Producing cultural resource mapping outputs (e.g. maps, graphs, reports, online resources, and other communications)

After finalizing the composition of a competent cultural mapping team, all members or mappers must familiarise their specific roles and responsibility. Everyone is required to attend the five-to-six day orientation and training. In time when the team members are engaged in fieldwork during the data-gathering phase, they must agree to attend the regular monitoring and updating meetings, which would at least be scheduled on a weekly basis.

The third phase of the project is the actual Training of the Local Team Phase. Chosen local mappers will be trained using the modules developed by the NCCA and then sent out to the field to do research during the training days hence a draft filled-out mapping forms on the cultural properties of the locality will be produced after the training days. The major parts of the modules to be discussed are Basic Concepts on Culture and Cultural Heritage, Mapping and Documenting the Natural Heritage, the Tangible Immovable (Built) Heritage, the Tangible Movable Heritage, Intangible Heritage, Personalities and Institutions and the LGU Programs, Activities, Legislations and other Resources for Culture.

The initial data gathered will be reported on the last day of training (or as determined by the facilitator) in order to assess the grasp of the mappers of the whole training and also to do a rapid initial analysis of the data gathered at this point of the process. A typical Training Schedule is shown below:

Cultural Mapping Project: Training the Local Team

Day 1



Opening Ceremonies

·        Welcome and Keynote Statements from the LGU
·        Visual Presentation on the NCCA
·        Introduction of Participants and NCCA Workshop Team
·        Expectation Check
·        Training Overview

Module 1: What is Culture? What is Cultural Heritage?
Module 2: What is Cultural mapping? (Frameworks)
Module 3: Why Map? (Significance/Importance) Who Maps?

Module 4: How to do Cultural Mapping? (Methods)
Ethics and Field Work Protocols
Day 2
Lecture on the cultural mapping modules
Initial listing of cultural properties to be mapped
Writing of data collected
Initial presentation of data collected
Day 3
Lecture on the cultural mapping modules
Initial listing of cultural properties to be mapped
Writing of data collected
Initial presentation of data collected
Day 4
Lecture on the cultural mapping modules
Initial listing of cultural properties to be mapped
Writing of data collected
Initial presentation of data collected
Day 5 (or more)
Guide to Collating and Presenting Data
Critical Next Steps for LGU
Closing Ceremonies

Note: more training days may be needed depending on the size and characteristics of the locality, number of local mappers and other factors

After the training, the mappers will continue the Data Gathering Phase which will go for about three to six months in order to substantially gather data on the major components of the culture profile depending on the size of the municipality and the number of mappers. Moreover, mappers will be tasked to do actual mapping (i.e. fieldwork and encoding of data) of their assigned cultural properties or practices within the agreed time frame. They must be committed to attend regular monitoring and updating meetings, which would at least be scheduled on a weekly basis.

Additionally, inclusive to the data gathering phase is the conduct of follow-up visits by the facilitators. Mappers are expected to have already produced an output or profile of their assigned cultural properties and practices. Facilitators will take time on checking and editing of the filled-out mapping forms.

It will be followed then by the Data Validation, where internal and external experts, stakeholders, and other members of the community will be presented of the data gathered by the mappers or the local mapping team in order to confirm or corroborate the validity of the mapped entries.

The Finalized Local Culture Profile is expected to be produced after the data validation.

The cultural mapping project ends with the production of the local cultural profile. However, it is important to stress that the results of the cultural mapping should be analyzed in order to draw information that would be useful in the formulation of programs, projects, activities, and policies for culture and arts, hence analysis is included in the diagram of cultural mapping phases. A workshop for the Analysis of the Mapping Results and Planning may be employed. This workshop aims to assist LGUs on how can they effectively plan the utilization of the data gathered from the cultural mapping project. This will be a separate engagement with the NCCA outside of the cultural mapping activity. The LGU may also engage another organization or institution in analyzing their data depending on their intended utilization.

How to request for assistance

Interested Local Government Units can send a letter of request addressed to NCCA Chairman Arsenio Lizaso signed by their Local Chief Executive. The letter should contain the name of the assigned focal person for the project from the requesting LGU and his/her contact details.

Send the letter with complete details to:

Cultural Heritage Section
Program and Project Management Division
National Commission for Culture and the Arts
633 General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila 1002

For inquiries, please call:
Direct Line:   (02) 8527-2207
Trunkline:     (02) 8527-2192 loc. 338
Telefax:         (02) 8527-2194
Email Address: