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Continuing conservation efforts amidst COVID-19

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation, Inc. continues to fulfill its mission of forming the Filipino youth to become protectors of Philippine built heritage.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation, Inc. continues to fulfill its mission of forming the Filipino youth to become protectors of Philippine built heritage. 

Escuela Taller’s conservation activities in Angeles Church( Holy Rosary Parish) in Pampanga continues despite the pandemic and the new surges in transmission.The conservation efforts are aimed at removing incompatible additions and interventions that were made to the structure over time. The conservation works that began in September 2019 focused on addressing the damages and deteriorations of the masonry walls on the west bell tower. Currently, a team composed of twenty four (24) Escuela Taller artisans and heritage protectors executes the program of work with six female workers at its core. 

Escuela Taller, in partnership with the Universidad de Manila’s Center for Micro-credential and Industry Training and the City Government of Manila, will be offering micro-credential courses on Wood Technology, including basic carpentry, joinery and introductory wood carving. 

Ar. Carmen Bettina Bulaong, Escuela Taller Executive Director said that Escuela Taller’s regular training programs remain temporarily on-hold due to health and safety restrictions and due to availability of funds. She adds that the Foundation is in the process of re-programming its approach to skills transfer that integrates the blended-learning methodology with its learning-by-doing programs to adapt to the changing needs related to public health and safety due to Covid19. This shift in training approach allows the Escuela Taller to protect its principal partners, which are the out-of-school youth, its team, as well as the wider community to which it belongs. 

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Since 2009, Escuela Taller has produced over 500 skilled workers and completed the restoration and rehabilitation of over 20 heritage structures, including old churches, cemeteries, historical buildings and ancestral houses located in various parts of the archipelago, including Manila, Laguna, Pampanga, Batanes, Bohol and Cebu. Among these is the recently completed rehabilitation of the Paco Park Ossuary that was executed collaboratively with the National Parks Development Committee and the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional Para el Desarrollo. Through these interventions and through its public and private sector partners, 65% of Escuela Taller graduates are gainfully employed.

Through Escuela Taller’s training programs, Filipino out of school youth are equipped with specialized skills and knowledge in traditional construction and conservation methods for heritage structures to help them uplift their economic status. While most of its trainees come from nearby Manila districts, the Intramuros-based vocational training center has also expanded its reach through its satellite trainings in various communities that are in need of assistance in properly conserving their heritage assets and that wish to develop local skills that will allow them to continue this process sustainably. 

Escuela Taller has contributed to the increase in public awareness towards the importance of conserving built heritage structures in the Philippines by organizing various seminars, workshops, and international conferences throughout the years. As a major actor in empowering the Filipino youth as protectors of our heritage, Escuela Taller has contributed to the development of the practice of heritage conservation in the country. 

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