Loren Eyes Stronger Cultural Ties with Berlin, Prague, Lisbon

April 15, 2018


The Hibla Travelling Exhibition, the Dr. Jose Rizal Textile Collection, and the Federico Aguilar Alcuaz Art Protis Exhibition are just some of the collaborative projects with art and culture institutions abroad to look forward to, says Senator Loren Legarda.

“There is so much to look forward to in terms of fostering cultural diplomacy with other nations. It is exciting to discover what we have in common with foreign countries just by going to their museums. This is where we will find our commonality amid our diversity,” said Legarda, a staunch advocate of arts and culture, after her recent visit to Lisbon in Portugal, Berlin in Germany, and Prague in Czech Republic.

Legarda was in Lisbon to open the second Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Travelling Exhibition, which will run until April 30, 2018 at the Philippine Embassy in Lisbon. This is the second venue of the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Travelling Exhibition following its successful run at the Philippine Embassy in London last year.

“Through this project, not only are we able to celebrate indigenous artistry through textiles but we also provide more Filipinos the opportunity to discover priceless information about our heritage, and bring the challenge of nurturing our weaving traditions to a wider audience,” said Legarda.

The Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Travelling Exhibition in Lisbon, organized by the National Museum of the Philippines, the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and the Philippine Embassy in Lisbon, is an offshoot of the National Museum’s Hibla ng Lahing Filipino: The Artistry of Philippine Textiles gallery, the first permanent textile gallery in the Philippines which is Legarda’s brainchild.

Rizal Textile Collection

In Berlin, Legarda went back to the Berlin Ethnological Museum where she discovered the precious textile collection of Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Since her first visit in 2013, the Senator has been working on bringing the textile collection to the National Museum in Manila.

Legarda met with Dr. Lars Christian Koch, Director of the Berlin Ethnological Museum, to discuss about the exhibition of the collection in the Philippines, which will happen in 2020.

“I have been wanting to have the Rizal Textile Collection on exhibit at the National Museum so that Filipinos will have a chance not only to see the collection but also to, hopefully, foster greater appreciation of our indigenous textiles and weaving heritage because no less than our national hero was fond and proud of this heritage,” she said.

The textile collection had been donated by Rizal to his friend, Dr. Adolf Bastian, a German ethnologist and founder of the Berlin Ethnological Museum, and Mr. Rudolf Virchow, a German prehistorian and anthropologist. Among the items are handwoven textiles like piña barong and shawl, a Bagobo attire, a Mandaya baby carrier, and a Tboli abaca wrap skirt.

Art Protis and Hibla Exhibition in Prague

Meanwhile, Legarda also visited Prague upon the invitation of Ambassador Jaroslav Olsa, Jr., Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Philippines.

The Senator visited the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, which is known for having the most extensive glass exhibition in Europe, and met with its Director, Helena Koenigzmarkova and textile curator, Marketa Vinglerova.

Legarda discussed possible collaborations, including bringing the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino TravellingExhibition in Prague, the conduct of lecture series on art protis in the Philippines, and the development of the ceramics industry in the Philippines.

“We can collaborate with Prague’s Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, especially in developing the ceramic industry in the Philippines and on how we can further develop decorative arts, which is the production of objects that are both useful and beautiful,” Legarda said.

The Senator also visited the National Museum of Prague and met with its Director General, Michal Lukeš. They discussed about the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Travelling Exhibition as well as the Art Protis exhibit of the late Filipino National Artist Federico Aguilar Alcuaz. Legarda shared that Ambassador Olsa has, for the past two years, wanted to bring the tapestries of Alcuaz to the Czech Republic.

“This will be a very meaningful knowledge and cultural exchange between the Philippines and the Czech Republic as we showcase our traditional textiles to them through the Hibla exhibition while also sharing with them how art protis, which originated in the Czech Republic, was beautifully employed by one of our National Artists in his masterpieces,” said Legarda.

Art Protis is a technology which originated in the Czech Republic based on the principle of a seamless interconnection of colored wool fleece put together through the aid of a warp-knitting machine. Federico Alcuaz’s Art Protis is currently on exhibit at the National Museum of Fine Arts in the Philippines.

Alcuaz’s exhibit and the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Travelling Exhibition will be showcased at the Czech National Museum in Prague in 2019.

“These cultural collaborations with other countries are important facets of diplomacy. This is where we see our connection with them on a different level, on a cultural, and sometimes even personal, level. Cultural diplomacy is an important aspect of foreign relations because it is a soft opener to our political and economic initiatives with other nations,” said Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“Through cultural diplomacy, we foster a deeper understanding with other nations and we discover that no matter how diverse our respective cultures are, we see similarities or points of convergence, which spark our curiosity to learn more about the art, culture and heritage of the other nation, and bring about deeper appreciation and understanding among citizens of different cultures,” Legarda concluded.