Legarda: Senate Panel Approves Bills on Venice Biennale Participation, Gabaldon Buildings Preservation

August 24, 2017

Senator Loren Legarda today hailed the approval on the committee level of her bills on preserving Gabaldon buildings and institutionalizing the Philippines’ Venice Biennale participation.


“I thank Senator Chiz Escudero, who chairs the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture for hearing and approving our proposed measures, particularly on the conservation of Gabaldon heritage school buildings all over the country and the institutionalization of the country’s yearly participation in the international exhibitions of the Venice Biennale, the world’s oldest and most prestigious global contemporary art platform,” said Legarda, principal author of the Philippine Arts in Venice Biennale Bill and author of the Gabaldon School Buildings Conservation Bill.


Legarda’s Senate Bill No. 1506 seeks to strengthen government efforts in the conservation and restoration of built heritage, such as Gabaldon school buildings, to preserve architectural, historical, and social significance.


There are reportedly 1,446 Gabaldon heritage school buildings all over the country. These structures symbolize the first foundation of the Philippine public school system during the American period, in which each Filipino child, even from the most remote areas of the country, had access to formal education.


“The preservation and restoration of Gabaldon buildings can promote the concept of heritage conservation especially in the provinces where many of these built heritage remain standing. These buildings can be used to ease classroom shortage or congestion especially in the countryside. As we teach the Filipino youth our nation’s culture and history, we should also inculcate in them the respect for things that form part of our heritage,” Legarda said.


The Senator has been advocating for the preservation of Gabaldon buildings and ensured that funds are allocated for conservation and restoration under the Department of Education (DepEd) budget, which she said should have been implemented by now.


Meanwhile, the committee also approved Senate Bill No. 1504, which seeks to institutionalize the Philippine participation in the international exhibitions of the Venice Biennale.


Legarda, the visionary and lead advocate of the Philippines’ return to the Venice Biennale, explained that 51 years after the country’s first participation in the Venice Biennale in 1964, it was able to successfully mount a comeback national pavilion in the Venice Art Biennale in 2015 and its first participation in the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016.


“Now, we are on our third consecutive participation while also preparing for our national pavilion next year. Many would ask: Why is it important to participate in the Venice Biennale? This is one way of conversing with other nations, it is an avenue to establish contact and share our culture with the world. Art is a form of cultural diplomacy, which is a soft opener to our political and economic initiatives with other nations,” she said.


“We recognize the important role of the arts in fostering patriotism and nationalism. It is an enabler of development. Through our participation in the Venice Biennale, more Filipino curators and artists will be encouraged not only in exhibiting their craft but also in promoting the relevance of arts in nation building,” Legarda concluded.