This priceless piece of precolonial heritage is a memento in this year’s celebration of 75 years of diplomatic ties between Australia and the Philippines
The Australian government returned to Philippine Ambassador to Australia Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega a mid-20th century axe used for woodcarving and hunting in the Ifugao communities in northern Luzon.
In a ceremony held in mid-November in Canberra, Greg Cox, acting first assistant secretary of the Office for the Arts, returned the axe to Ambassador De La Vega that was intercepted by the Australian Border Force (ABF) upon entry into Australia from the US. The Office for the Arts undertook the investigation and worked with the Embassy of the Philippines toward the return of the axe to the Philippines. Through the guidance of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Museum of the Philippines as provided by the Philippines’ Heritage Law (Republic Act 10066), the Embassy facilitated the restitution of the cultural artefact to the Philippines.
In a message read by the ambassador, NCCA chairman Arsenio Lizaso said, “Cultural heritage is priceless. It is a reflection of the value systems and traditions transmitted from generation to generation. It helps us understand who we were, who we are, and who we may become.”
Ambassador De La Vega thanked the Australian government for its efforts and noted that 2021 marks the Year of Filipino Pre-Colonial Ancestors.
During the ceremony, Fredeliza Campos, PhD student at the Australian National University (ANU) School of Music, gave a presentation on Music and Materiality of Philippine Culture. Campos is a field archaeologist and ethnomusicologist affiliated with the ANU.
Ambassador De La Vega thanked the Australian government for its efforts and noted that 2021 marks the Year of Filipino Pre-Colonial Ancestors. She added that both the Philippines and Australia, which celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations this year, have a rich indigenous heritage that continues to shape and influence our people and our future.
TIES AS STRONG AS STEEL Philippine Ambassador to Australia Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega receives the Igorot steel and wood axe from Greg Cox, the Office for the Arts first assistant secretary, at a ceremony held on Nov. 19, 2021 in Canberra. (Canberra PE photo)
OJO! USE THIS STORY FOR CROPPED OUT PHOTO THE AXE.