The National Archives of the Philippines (NAP) was recently renamed and strengthened under Republic Act 9470 also known as the “National
Archives of the Philippines Act of 2007”. Historically, NAP was already an established Philippine institution since 1901 as a result of the Treaty of Paris executed at the end of the Spanish occupation. Its mandate as provided for by
RA 9470 is to plan, develop, prescribe, disseminate and enforce policies, rules and regulations and coordinate government-wide programs governing the creation, use, storage and disposition of public records including the acquisition, storage and preservation of public archives and providing facilities for reference, research or other purposes.
Two of the major functions and concerns of NAP that are interrelated are to ensure the preservation of its archival documents and provide a fast and wider means of access by the public to these documents.
Direct handling of documents used for research increases the wear and tear no matter how careful the archivists and archives users are in doing their works. Similarly, security on access to original archival documents is also a growing concern.
One program that NAP came up with is a series of digitization projects. It is an optional preservation option because it limits the actual handling of original documents. Researches and referrals through the microfilm of those original documents result in a faster access and retrieval of information.
3.1. The first NAP Digitization Project was initiated in 1998 wherein a service provider was contracted. The project has scanned 3,731,943 images of
Asuntos Criminales (Criminal Cases) and 180,998 images of Asuntos Civiles
(Civil Cases) stored in 738 compact discs. These documents are part of the
Spanish Documents turned over by Spain to the Philippines by virtue of the
Treaty of Paris. Copies of these discs are being sold to academic researchers and the general public. As it is, these historic and archival documents are now
more accessible and usable to government agencies, archivists, researchers and students.
3.2. The second project was Microfilming, Digitizing and Indexing Project of Notarial Documents undertaken again by a service provider in 2007.
Notarial Documents are legal documents primarily containing legal transactions that served as evidence in the establishment and protection of the rights of concerned parties.
One (1) microfilm roll was the required output per batched documents utilizing the 16mm film or 35mm film. These microfilms were then digitized and burned into CDRs copied in a server. This project has scanned around 3.7 million images of Notarial Documents which are stored in a big server and
1,782 compact discs.
A component of the project was the provision of Retrieval Software
(Document Management Software or DMS). This DMS is for a 3 client/user
Windows Server Environment with complete index and content management with search/retrieve functions.
Although the DMS software provides LAN, intranet and internet access, the present means of access to these digitized documents and printing out of requested documents are done using the CDRs pending formulation of a more safe and secure system of retrieval through the internet.
Nevertheless, the number of hours spent by archivists in searching for information on notarial documents was substantially decreased resulting in
Clients satisfaction and increase in NAP’s reference service revenues.
3.3. The third project that is currently undergoing is the digitization with indexing of notarial documents under the administration and control of the
Regional Archival Network, Cebu, in the Visayas Region. This project involves the production of two copies of DVD-R that contain the digital copies of scanned notarial documents. One copy is the preservation copy, which shall be used only for reproduction for worn out or damaged user copies and migration needed to prevent technological obsolescence. The second copies or user copies are to be used to generate user or service copies for the collection.
Final DVD-R deliverable have the Redmap Circulate search engines
(based on open architecture and not encrypted) and to be integrated with the
National Archives of the Philippines’ existing Redmap system. This will thus
provide a wider access options from the public residing in Manila and Luzon and the Visayas.
One of the future plans in strengthening the NAP as envisioned in RA
9470 is the formulation of standards on digitization of public documents in all the government agencies in the Philippines. This standard on digitization shall be based on the experiences of NAP with several digitization projects and experiences shared by SARBICA members and other archival institutions throughout the world. Training of NAP personnel complement is also being programmed so that future digitization at NAP shall now be done by its staff.
Likewise, a digitization training module is currently being developed for the conduct of seminar-workshop to be given to all government personnel involved in records keeping and archives administration. Definitely, NAP is determined to move forward in incorporating microfilming and digitization programs in its preservation strategies and access services.