From Colonial Policy to National Treasure: Tracing the Making of Audiovisual Heritage in the Philippines


This study traces the history and construction of institutionalized cultural and audiovisual heritage in the Philippines and investigates how evolving views of heritage have shaped the country’s audiovisual archiving and preservation movement in the last fifty years. It examines the impact of naturalized definitions of heritage, as globalized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the implementation of audiovisual archival institution building, cultural policies, and archival priorities in the Philippines under the heritage banner set out by the organization. Considering the formation of what heritage scholars call “authorized heritage discourse” (AHD), this paper argues that a heritage hierarchy emerged in the country’s contemporary audiovisual archiving landscape, privileging an industrial view of cinema while marginalizing other forms of moving image practice. The study calls for an awareness of and resistance to institutionalized archives’ claims to social, cultural, and political power in their heritage construction and discourse.