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  • Writer's pictureChristian Malnawa

Ifugao’s mid-20th century axe returned to the Philippines by Australian gov’t

Ifugao, Philippines – A mid-20th century axe owned by the Ifugao communities used for wood carving and hunting has been returned to the Philippine government by the Australian government through Philippine Ambassador to Australia H.E. Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega, Philippine Embassy on Australia, on Tuesday, November 23, 2021.

As reported by the embassy, the axe was returned to Ambassador De La Vega by Acting First Assistant Secretary Greg Cox of the Office for the Arts during a ceremony held on November 19, 2021, in Canberra.

Accordingly, the axe was intercepted by the Australian Border Force (ABF) upon its entry into Australia from the United States in June 2020.

An investigation was then made by the Office of the Arts after being informed by ABF. They also coordinated with the Embassy of the Philippines for its return to its rightful owners.

With the guidance of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Museum of the Philippines, a restitution of the cultural artifact was conducted by the embassy.

As reported, the axe which is a cultural artefact was taken from the country without getting a permit from the National Museum. Said action is a breach of Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Law.

In connection, NCCA Chairman Arsenio Lizaso, as read by the Ambassador, said that “cultural heritage is priceless’.

He added that this is “a reflection of the value systems and traditions transmitted from generation to generation and helps us understand who we were, who we are, and who we may become.”

Meantime, De La Vega expressed her gratitude to the Australian government for the return of the artifact, noting that this year marks the Year of Filipino Pre-Colonial Ancestors.

De La Vega added that the Philippines and Australia are celebrating their 75 years of diplomatic relations this year. Both have a rich indigenous heritage that continues to shape and influence their people and future.

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