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Inspirational Message of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda Online Showing of Patok: Mountain Carvers October 15, 2020/ 9:00 a.m.

October 15, 2020

It is often said that one’s environment is intrinsically linked with one’s culture, stories and traditions for in its totality, such define and lay the foundation of a community’s identity.

In my home province of Antique, the Rice Terraces of San Remigio magnifies the Iraynon-Bukidnon’s industriousness and highlights the harmonious relationship between humankind and the environment.   

Oftentimes, these kinds of tangible heritage are better appreciated because their beauty and value are palpable, and are a keen sight to behold.

In contrast, intangible heritage, such as traditional knowledge and practices, would cease to exist if they are not passed on, if they are not safeguarded.

This is why I laud the efforts of Emmanuel Lerona and his team for the daunting yet estimable task of documenting the beauty of the indigenous community nestled in the municipality of San Remigio in Antique, highlighting their kina-andan, and their ancestors’ worldviews that guided them to where they are now. From the patok, the kalog, the apog, the chants and even the art of tattoing, I congratulate Director Lerona for providing us with such invaluable material and information on the Iraynon Bukidnon.  

The true value of our intangible culture and arts is not as easily recognized because it lacks the visibility of built heritage. It lacks permanence of wood, stone and metal. How do you measure the significance of Federico Caballero’s epic chants, the exuberance of Alonzo Saclag’s music and dance? How can Magdalena Gamayo’s deft hands and intricate weaving be as priceless as the San Agustin Church? How can we uncover the mythical depths of the Hinilawod? Yet we should. We must look at our traditional music, dance, arts, drama, and cuisine with the same awe as we accord old churches because more than anything, our intangible cultural heritage holds the continuity of our nation and serves as the authentic embodiment of our identity as a country. 

As a lawmaker, I have always mulled over these questions. How do we protect these traditions that depend on solitary guardians who often live in remote places? How do we ensure that in this age of globalization, we are able to continue preserving our culture and our heritage, allowing the younger generation to accept and preserve it?

It is due to this fervor that has led me to establish Likha-an in Manila, a repository of our traditional arts housed in Intramuros, and which I hope to replicate also in my home province of Antique. In 2018, I supported the launch of From the Seas to the Mountain, a publication on the indigenous knowledge, best practices on sustainable development and environmental conservation, and traditional belief systems of the provinces in Western Visayas. It is a collaboration among SUCs of Region VI, namely, UP Visayas, Guimaras State University, Aklan State University, Capiz State University, West Visayas State University, and University of Antique. I have even worked closely with the National Museum for the establishment of textile galleries, the Baybayin gallery and the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan galleries, so as to make sure that we have a physical locus to preserve our culture. I have also collaborated with an association of scholars on Philippine studies to undertake Ma-aram, a multimedia documentation of vanishing traditions of indigenous communities, such as the subli and sludoy. I also conceptualized the Dayaw television series on indigenous culture, which I host and is produced by the NCCA and the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), and Buhay na Buhay, a show on the study of Prof. Felipe De Leon, Jr., on the eight living cultures of the Filipino.

These are just some of the efforts that we have undertaken to make sure that our culture is well-preserved and documented. I believe that safeguarding our cultural identity, whether tangible or intangible, is as important as the economic and political affairs of nations. As we celebrate this month in honor of our indigenous peoples, the arts create a sense of solidarity, amid similarities and differences, and it is but our task, as a legislator, as an academic, as a filmmaker, as an ordinary member of the Filipino community to protect for future generations.

Thank you.***