Legarda: Culture and Heritage Must Be Part of Development Policies

May 2, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, today renewed her call to preserve Filipino culture and heritage and make it part of the country’s development policy.


“The Philippines is a nation endowed with rich and diverse culture. Among our cultural heritage are the various age-old structures, ethnic traditions, indigenous songs and dances, weaving traditions and other forms of folk arts. While the preservation of our heritage is a continuing challenge especially in this era of rapid technological advancements, it is a fact that our heritage is a fundamental source of socio-economic empowerment,” Legarda said as the country celebrates National Heritage Month this May.


The Senator cited the Historic City of Vigan as one of the best examples in making heritage preservation part of development.


“The Historic City of Vigan in Ilocos Sur brings people back in time and gives a bittersweet feeling as it reminds us of the challenges our ancestors had to overcome during the colonial rule, but the magnificent structures carefully preserved bring awe to visitors. The preservation of the Vigan heritage has not only contributed to the development of the city through gains in tourism but also brought honor to our country when the UNESCO awarded it the Best Practice for World Heritage Site Management in 2012,” she said.


Meanwhile, Legarda also said that more jobs can be generated in sectors related to preserving the country’s heritage.


“The restoration and conservation of the age-old structures in various parts of the country—baroque churches, heritage houses, colonial buildings and bridges—is an area where we can generate jobs for Filipinos skilled in building methods,” she said, noting that in 2013, several heritage churches were damaged and destroyed by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol.


“When we have restored our colonial structures, we can further boost cultural tourism in our areas of heritage to produce more jobs and generate bigger income for our citizens and local governments,” said Legarda.


She added that a vocational school in Intramuros has been teaching skills related to building construction to disadvantaged but talented Filipino youth.


The Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation, Inc., an initiative of the Spanish Embassy in Manila, in partnership with its development agency AECID, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), TESDA and the Intramuros Administration, is a vocational school that specializes in masonry, carpentry, metal works, painting, plumbing woodcarving and stone carving, among others.


Students have been involved in revival projects for the historic quarter of Intramuros, establishment of Vigan Conservation Complex, rehabilitation of the Rice Terraces in Ifugao, restoration of colonial churches and bridges, and other related heritage restoration projects.


“The Escuela Taller can also contribute to a cultural revolution that we wish to advance through the establishment of folk art museums in provinces in the country. These folk art museums will be houses of heritage that will feature unique products of the provinces and their cultural music and performing arts,” Legarda said.


“I am certain that many citizens and groups in our country are also working towards cultural preservation. These may not be as big as the Historic City of Vigan, the Ifugao Rice Terraces or the Escuela Taller, but all our efforts when put together can usher a cultural renaissance and revitalize Filipinos’ love for our culture and heritage,” Legarda concluded.***