MAGALANG -- In order to promote, protect and preserve the town's heritage, the National Museum and local government unit here led the public declaration of the Heliograph Towers located in Barangay Sta. Cruz and San Isidro as “cultural properties” on Monday, August 21.

Carmencita Mariano of the National Museum said it is the policy of the State to preserve and protect important cultural properties and national cultural treasures of the nation and to safeguard their intrinsic value.

Mariano said that Museum Resolution 14-2016 declares the Magalang Heliograph Towers as important cultural properties.

Mayor Malu Paras-Lacson thanked the National Museum for recognizing the importance and beauty of the town’s heritage, saying that in a span of one year, the National Museum has bestowed four declarations in Magalang.

Lacson said they will be submitting the different colonial houses along the heritage district of Magalang for future declaration.

"Our heritage is a legacy from our past. It is something we live with today and hopefully, something that we can pass on to future generations. In every country, cultural heritage is both a record of life and history and also an irreplaceable source of creativity and inspiration. Our cultural heritage determines who we are, giving us both identity and the values that will guide our lives in a changing world," she said.

Lacson said despite its importance, there is never any guarantee that heritage will survive and be passed on to the next generation.

“This has been true throughout history and it is even truer today. For this reason, the local government of Magalang has launched initiatives designed to protect and preserve our own cultural heritages. These initiatives are designed not only to protect famous monuments- like the Heliograph Towers in Sta. Cruz and San Isidro, buildings like the old municipal building, and the natural landscape, but also the fine arts and crafts, and the more ordinary buildings and objects that reflect the history and ways of life of every Magaleño,” Lacson added.

Lacson said they have asked the support of different national agencies, such as the National Museum, to declare the remaining built heritage of Magalang as important cultural properties, in a bid to promote public awareness of the municipality's cultural heritage protection efforts.

She said the local government recognizes that the preservation or conservation of cultural heritage is the responsibility of the current generation.

"We have many questions to deal with, because we are the current generation with the responsibility to bestow our cultural heritage for the future, " Lacson said.

Magalang Municipal Tourism Officer Ryan Miranda said the Heliograph Towers were built in 1863 by General Ricardo Monet, a commandant of War of the Spanish Regime in the Philippines.

These towers were strategically located in the towns of Magalang, Concepcion and Mabalacat. They were constructed to serve as stations of communication. They have small mirrors on top made to turn upon both a horizontal and vertical axis, mounted on a tripod, so arranged as to make the flashes appear and disappear in rapid succession.

The towers used by the Spanish army and by it, messages may be transmitted much faster than with flags or torches and can be used at a longer ranges.

"These were very important to Spaniards. To us Filipinos, may this towers serve as a testimony on how important the role of our town is in shaping our history, " Miranda said.

Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Norman Lacson said that local folks of Sta. Cruz call the "Torre" as “bornal,” while in San Francisco, they call them “batiawan.” For most of the people in the town, they are but smoke outlets for “cabiawan” of early carabao-driven sugar mills.

Lacson said that not until several ethno historical and archaeological surveys by Professor Lino Dizon and some local historians, they were known to be Heliograph Towers.

He said the Municipal Council will pass resolutions and ordinances to protect and preserve the cultural heritage and historical treasures of Magalang. (Chris Navarro)