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Message of Deputy Speaker and Antique Congresswoman Loren Legarda Opening of the Likha-an: Lunduyan ng Tradisyonal na Sining at Kultura

August 15, 2019

Message of Deputy Speaker and Antique Congresswoman Loren Legarda

Opening of the Likha-an: Lunduyan ng Tradisyonal na Sining at Kultura

15 August 2019 | Puerta Real Gardens, Intramuros, Manila

 

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a pleasure to be here at the opening of Likha-an: Lunduyan ng Tradisyonal na Sining at Kultura. It is actually a dream come true to be able to formally open this resource center, envisioned to be an inclusive venue that will be the home to the nation’s traditional works of art and a celebration of the traditional artists from our regions.

In 2015, I walked into this very space when it was still Acuario de Manila. For those that don’t know, this is actually a historic structure built by the Bureau of Public Works and was the site of the Manila Aquarium in 1913. It was a tourist attraction during the American Period but it had to close down during World War II. It became the Acuario de Manila and by the late 90s, it was completely closed to the public.

When I saw this space while visiting the Puerta Real Gardens, it was dark and abandoned. I thought that such space had so much potential, and leaving it in that way would be a lost opportunity. At this time, our return to the Venice Biennale after more than a 50-year absence, which my office spearheaded, was remarkable and well-received.

For all the strides that we are making in the contemporary art stage, it is vital that we also give attention to our traditional arts. Some may think that contemporary and traditional arts are binary but in reality they are a continuum, one greatly affects the other. The development of both contributes to the development of one nation.

I envision this space to be a cradle for our nation’s living arts and artists. And thanks to the collaboration with the NCCA and Intramuros Administration, we are now in this historic moment, opening the center for the country and the world.

We should take pride in knowing that the Philippines has a vast and rich culture of traditional arts which folk artists continue to create. We consider these works as “living traditions,” that transform and adapt to the changing environment and carries with them the history and the culture of our towns and communities.

Traditional art binds us to our past but that invisible thread unravels endlessly because we continue to create, own and transform traditional knowledge passed on from one generation to the next. It is important that we see the value of these works.

A textile weave is not just a weave but the DNA of our people, their way of life, of seeing and being, of dreaming. The patterns and techniques we enjoy today are the gifts of our forbearers to their progeny. It is our responsibility to pass on these gifts to the next generation.

Living traditions are also vital in nurturing the community. Not only do they convene the community and form camaraderie but they also are actual sources of livelihood. Families make a living from creating traditional arts while protecting our intangible heritage. And it is time that these artisans have a space they can call home.

Likha-an actually comes from the words Likha- Palihan or in Filipino, a space to create. It is a meeting place of ideas – a place to learn alternative modes of learning through workshops, lectures, demonstrations, video showing, reading special materials on folk and traditional art, and interaction with traditional artists from the regions.

You can learn about vernacular culture and artistry, as well as the plight of the Filipinos thousands of miles away when you step into this center without leaving Manila. It will serve as a platform for local and foreign tourists to knowing the social conditions of the regions as well as celebrate the creativity and resiliency of the Filipinos.

In my hometown of Antique, where I know serve as Congresswoman of its lone district, we are in the middle of a cultural mapping expedition. In fact, we are researching about Antique weaving which is said to exist even before the Hispanic period. The result of the research in Antique will be formalized but what I want is to inspire other people– lawmakers, non-government organizations, private individuals– to look into your own hometowns and discover the living traditions that your community is nurturing.

Let the works you see in this Center inspire you to support and contribute to our living traditions and above all give the our traditional artists the respect they deserve.

Thank you to all the cultural workers who made this dream a reality.

Salamat at Mabuhay tayong lahat.