May 31, 1945 – May 5, 2018. Architect Augusto F. Villalon, one of Asia’s most renowned experts in heritage conservation, recently passed away in Manila, Philippines.
During his long career, Arch. Augusto F. Villalon made an outstanding contribution to heritage conservation and to the World Heritage Convention in particular. A former President of ICOMOS Philippines, he was practically a lone voice when he helped introduce heritage conservation to the Philippines some 40 years ago. Zealously promoting heritage awareness through his writing, speaking, organizing, and campaigning, the publications and countless newspaper articles he wrote helped mold the national consciousness. Organizations which he helped found, such as the Heritage Conservation Society, generated momentum, as did his years of involvement with both the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and UNESCO’s National Commission of the Philippines. By 2009, the groundswell that he helped create finally led to Republic Act 10066, better known as the Philippines’ Heritage Law. Mr Villalon was the bridge between the Philippines and the international heritage conservation community, and the force behind the inscription of the Philippines’ first five UNESCO World Heritage sites. He represented the Philippines as a Bureau member of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee during its early, formative years, and was instrumental in the development of the Cultural Landscape concept.
For him, his most significant work was assistng UNESCO in implementing a Kenzo Tange master plan in the birthplace of the Lord Buddha, Lumbini Nepal; working on the Buddhist pilgrimage trail in Northern India and Nepal; and documenting traditional agricultural and cultural landscapes and practices in the rice terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras and Bali.
As President of ICOMOS Philippines for 25 years, he was called upon to undertake numerous international missions. He was Vice President of the ICOMOS International Committee on Cultural Tourism as well as the International Committee on Vernacular Architecture. He was a founding member of the International Committee on 20th Century Heritage, and also served in both the Executive and Advisory Committees of ICOMOS. He was so revered worldwide as an elder statesman of the conservation profession that ICOMOS awarded him an Honorary Membership in 2014, just one of his many prestigious international and local distinctions.
A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Mr Villalon leaves behind a loving family, respectful friends and colleagues around the world, countless grateful mentees, and the well-deserved legacy of being the father of heritage conservation in the Philippines.
Most of all, his friends and colleagues at the World Heritage Centre will remember him for his exceptional personality, combining a passion for life, enthusiasm and a commitment to his work and a deep engagement with the people he met. The World Heritage Centre wishes to express its deepest condolences to his family, students and friends worldwide, who will sorely miss him.