Message: Aksyon Para Sa Ambisyon: Philippine Development Expo

June 2, 2017

Message of Senator Loren Legarda
Aksyon Para Sa Ambisyon: Philippine Development Expo
“Malasakit: Promoting Philippine Culture and Values”
2 June 2017 | SMX Convention Center, Pasay City


Foremost, I wish to congratulate the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for the launch of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, which features three major pillars—Pagbabago, Patuloy na Pag-Unlad, and Malasakit.


Malasakit is such a beautiful Filipino word. It could mean compassion, empathy or care. But these words do not fully capture the full essence of the word. When you have malasakit you think of someone or something as if it were your own. Your actions are dictated not only by the mind but also of the heart; you do things out of care and respect—malasakit sa kapwa; malasakit sa trabaho; malasakit sa kalikasan.


As one of the pillars of the PDP 2017-2022, malasakit is about enhancing the social fabric by, first, ensuring people-centered, clean, and efficient governance; second, pursuing swift and fair administration of justice; and third, promoting Philippine culture and values.


It is quite clear and understandable why the first two points are important in the country’s economic blueprint, but why the third item?


Our culture and our values define our being Filipino. We can never work together wholeheartedly towards the inclusive growth and development of our nation if we do not have pride of place and national pride as a people.


Our culture is our identity, and part of that identity is a complex and heterogeneous mix of cultures.  Our different ethno-linguistic groups—each with a distinct heritage of traditions, dance, art, music, folklore, beliefs, value systems—make up the identity of the Filipino people.


Ensuring inclusivity in a nation that has rich and diverse culture is a difficult challenge, but not impossible.


Diversity should not be used as an instrument to divide. Diversity breeds richness in our culture and heritage. Diversity brings everyone together for as long as there is understanding and respect, for as long as no one thinks he or she is superior and more deserving than the rest, for as long as we have malasakit.


The PDP aims to increase the level of cultural awareness, inculcate values for the common good, cultivate creativity, and strengthen culture-sensitive governance and development.


There are current programs and efforts aimed towards these targets. What we need to do is to strengthen these efforts and institutionalize programs as part of the overall strategy for development.


According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), there are two approaches for preserving cultural heritage. The first approach is to record it in a tangible form, documenting and putting it in archives; the other is preservation through living form to ensure that it will be passed on to the next generation as well as practiced in everyday life.


The UNESCO considers cultural mapping as a vital tool and technique in providing society an overall framework in the preservation of its tangible and intangible cultural assets. The fundamental goal of cultural mapping is to educate and help the nation visualize its rich heritage while allowing for reflection of what it stands to lose as a result of its collective apathy.


The Schools of Living Traditions (SLTs) were established in response to the approach of preservation of the arts through living form with the aim of transmitting indigenous skills and techniques to the young.


To further strengthen heritage conservation in the country, I have proposed amendments to the National Cultural Heritage Law. The measure would mandate local government units (LGUs) to conduct a cultural heritage mapping of their areas for both tangible and intangible and natural and built heritage. Concerned agencies if government, led by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) shall integrate and mainstream Philippine arts and culture, including SLTs, in the basic, tertiary, and technical-vocational education system.


I have also proposed the creation of a Department of Culture that will ensure the preservation, enrichment, and dynamic evolution of a Filipino national culture that is rooted in unity amidst diversity.


Recently, the Senate has approved on third reading the proposed Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas (E-NIPAS) Bill, which strengthens conservation of 92 of the country’s protected areas, which hold so much of our natural heritage and home to many of our indigenous peoples.


Several other bills have been in Congress and even as we await the approval of these measures, we have ongoing efforts to promote Philippine culture and values.


As Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, not only did we ensure that we have higher budget for cultural initiatives but also included special provisions that would help agencies of government integrate cultural promotion and heritage preservation in implementing programs.


The national budget for 2016 and 2017 both include special provisions mandating the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to ensure the establishment of a council whose purpose is the promotion of culture and the arts in all provinces, cities and municipalities, pursuant to the Local Government Code; and the NCCA to coordinate with LGUs to undertake cultural mapping of tangible and intangible heritage, which shall form part of the national registry to be maintained by the NCCA.


The General Appropriations Act also contains a special provision that protects built heritage, cultural properties, and cultural landscapes from alteration, renovation, or demolition by requiring prior approval by government cultural agencies.


We have many other programs by the NCCA, the National Museum, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Science and Technology, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Department of Tourism and even our State Universities and Colleges aimed at promoting Philippine culture.


I am optimistic that we are treading the right path towards inclusive growth with enhancing the social fabric as one of the pillars of development.


We have one of the youngest population demographics in the world, with a median age of 23 years.  This is a resource, unequalled in importance; but they need to be nurtured in ways that they become instruments of constructive change – a change that will bring us all together.


Cultural considerations cannot anymore remain on the sidelines of policy making.  These need to be integrated in education, economic planning, urban and rural development, technological innovations, among others.


Filipinos, without a collective appreciation of our culture, would have no shared understanding of our past, continue to be divided in the present, and will not have a shared vision for the future.  A person without a keen sense of his or her culture, of his or her identity, simply will not care.


Culture gives us a sense of belonging and is a source of knowledge and pride and creates our shared identity. It is, therefore, essential and critical to nation-building.


Let us build together as one nation, as a Filipino people.


Thank you.