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Legarda: Safeguard Cultural Identity, Whether Tangible or Intangible

May 20, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, today emphasized the need to protect the Philippines’ cultural heritage in both its tangible and intangible forms.

“We hear uproar about saving crumbling monuments and edifices, but less noise about the need to preserve our vanishing traditional crafts. The true value of our intangible culture and arts is not as easily recognized because it lacks the durability of construction,” said Legarda at the First Ceremony for the Commemoration of the Asian Living Human Treasures.

The First Ceremony for the Commemoration of the Asian Living Human Treasures was organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

In the spirit of the event, Legarda highlighted Philippine Living Human Treasures and their works over the years. “How do you measure the significance of Federico Caballero’s epic chants, the exuberance of Alonzo Saclag’s music and dance? How can Lang Dulay’s deft hands and intricate weaving be as priceless as the San Agustin Church? It should be.”

“We must look at our traditional music, dance, crafts, drama and cuisine with the same awe 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,” Legarda added, posing a challenge for Filipinos to value even the unseen and untouchable parts of culture.

The Senator mentioned the Philippine Tropical Fabrics Law of 2004, which mandates the use of local materials for the official uniforms of government employees, and the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 as measures currently aimed at preserving traditional arts and crafts. Nonetheless, Legarda continues to advocate the protection of indigenous peoples and their culture despite existing apathy towards these issues.

“Many consider my passion for arts and culture a frivolous endeavor, particularly for a nation that needs to focus on its economy and other political exigencies that demand its attention. On the contrary, I believe that safeguarding our cultural identity is just as urgent a matter as the volatile capital market or the muddled political arena. Traditional arts can bring a sense of solidarity among our countrymen while having a positive impact on the economy,” Legarda concluded.