The task of guaranteeing that documents and records are preserved and accessible to the public lies with the National Archives of the Philippines. Its main responsibility is to preserve the primary sources of information on Philippine history, the basic components of cultural heritage and collective memory. These documentary sources are the embodiment of community identities as well as testaments to shared national experiences.
The National Archives of the Philippines is the home of about 60 million documents from the centuries of Spanish rule in the Philippines, the American and Japanese occupations, as well as the years of the Republic. It is also the final repository for the voluminous notarized documents of the country.
The Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898) established the Office of Archives (formerly Spanish Division of Archives) under the Americans. The Treaty urged the turn-over of documents from Spain and the Philippines.
Philippine Commission Act No. 273 (October 21, 1901) established the Bureau of Archives under the Department of Public Instructions (now Department of Education)
On May 21, 2007, by means of R.A. 9470 – the first archival legislation after more than a century – the National Archives of the Philippines came into existence. The new law strengthened the government’s recordkeeping systems and administration programs for archival materials.
Today, in implementing its mandate, the Archives utilizes a two pronged approach where effective records management goes hand-in-hand with the development of a sense of pride in one’s heritage. To achieve its goals, the Archives interacts with other government agencies and the private sector to set up projects which will illustrate how heritage resources can be used for enhancing community life. Archival materials can be utilized for tourism information, creative product design and heritage education modules that revitalize the youth’s sense of identity and membership in a dynamic, multifaceted nation.
- Plan, formulate and implement a records management and archival administration program for the efficient creation, utilization, maintenance, retention, preservation, conservation and disposal of public records including the adoption of security measures and vital records protection program for the government;
- Give technical assistance to all branches of government, whether national or local, Constitutional Offices, GOCC’s GFI’s, State Universities and Colleges, Philippine Embassies, Consulates and other Philippine Offices abroad and evaluation of their public records management and archives administration programs;
- Conduct training programs on records and archives management including the establishment of an archival system of both public and private sectors;
- Acquire through transfer, donation, purchase or any other means public records and private archives which in the judgment of the Executive Director has an enduring archival value;
- Ensure the preservation and conservation of existing and future archival resources of the government;
- Issue, transmit and/or authenticate reproduced copies, certified true copies or certifications on public archives and/or extracts thereof;
- Keep a registry of all public records under the custody and control of the National Archives of the Philippines which shall be made available for public inspection;
- Obtain, recover, transfer and have custody and management of all the public archives not in the custody of the National Archives;
- Accept, store, preserve and conserve any public archive transferred to the National Archives;
- Establish, maintain, operate Regional Archives and Records Centers and/or provide technical assistance to government agencies on the establishment of agency Records Center;
- Identify and make copies of vital public records which are essential to the continuous operation or reconstruction of an organization during and after an emergency and also those records essential to the protection of rights and interests of that organization and of the individuals directly affected by its activities.