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Message of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda on the Online Launch of “Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan” Teaching Modules of our National Living Treasures 23 October 2020

October 23, 2020

Good morning to everyone who are gathered today to witness the Online Launch of the Teaching Modules of our National Living Treasures (Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan).

 I commend the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Sigmahanon Foundation for Culture and the Arts, Inc. for coming up with these teaching modules. My special thanks also goes to Karina Bolasco, who patiently worked on this project, which I envisioned, and has made it into a reality. These learning materials, which feature five lessons based on the art and craft of each Manlilikha ng Bayan, are intended for our teachers in junior and senior high schools. 

The teaching modules employ a range of multidisciplinary activities: literature, music, arts, speech, graphic design and advertising, smithing, weaving, farming, and hat-making.

Teachers can add these modules to their classroom activities and give our students the opportunity to know of the legacy of each of our National Living Treasures. Considered as our living legends of the arts and culture, our Manlilikha ng Bayan are the traditional and indigenous artists who have kept Filipino creativity and culture alive. It is now high time to recognize them and perpetuate their lifetime work and passion through these teaching modules.

In 2016, in partnership with the National Museum of the Philippines and the NCCA, an exhibit featuring our National Living Treasures was opened. Now a permanent hall in the National Museum of Anthropology, it is a tribute to our GAMABA Awardees who have, in their own unique ways, promoted, preserved and enriched our tangible and intangible culture.   

This effort brought awareness to many people who visited the museum. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, museums are kept closed and people are ordered to stay home for safety and security. This teaching manual will then bring the stories and legacies of our National Living Treasures to as many learners as possible nationwide.

In this inaugural teaching resource, six GAMABA Awardees are featured, namely, Yakan musician Uwang Ahadas from Lamitan, Basilan; epic chanter Federico Caballero from Calinog, Iloilo; and Kalinga musician and dancer Alonzo Saclag from Lubuagan, Kalinga, who were awardees in the year 2000. We also have Kapampangan metalsmith Eduardo Mutuc from Apalit, Pampanga who was an awardee in 2004; and, textile weaver Magdalena Gamayo from Pinili, Ilocos Norte, and casque maker Teofilo Garcia from San Quintin, Abra,  both awardees in 2012.  

Our National Living Treasures are proof of the rich and diverse culture and traditions of our different local communities and indigenous peoples. They are the finest traditional artists in the country who hope to pass on their skills and talent to the younger generation, for the preservation of their art, culture and tradition. 

The musical deftness of Uwang Ahadas – from gabbang to the agung, the kwintangan kayu, and other Yakan musical instruments – was passed on to the members of his community. He has taken on the mission to educate the young, when interest and curiosity are at their peak. 

Federico Caballero in the mountains of Panay documents the oral literature, particularly the epics, of his people. Diverse stories about common concerns, such as family, community, nature and the environment have been immortalized through their epics and chants. 

A Kalinga master of dance and the performing arts, Alonzo Saclag, fulfilled his mission to create greater consciousness and appreciation of the Kalinga culture. With his keen interest and passion, he commits to teach the younger generation how to understand and respect the nuances of their traditional laws and beliefs. 

Eduardo Mutuc is widely known for his intricate metalwork and detailed chiseling. His retablos that decorate chapels serve as a locus for contemplation. His cherubim  are captivating characters and his commissioned pieces for churches are meticulous. He teaches his students that the only way to improve one’s skills is to immerse oneself, learn the technique, and as the saying goes, that perfection comes through practice.

Master weaver Magdalena Gamayo has been relying on her innate skills for years, starting at the age 16 when she learned the art of weaving from her aunt. She taught herself the traditional patterns of binakol, the inuritan (geometric design), kusikos (spiral forms similar to oranges), and sinan-sabong (flowers). The beauty of Magdalena Gamayo’s designs teaches us that machines can never equal the beauty and grace only human art can convey. 

 Teofilo Garcia takes pride in wearing his creations. Since he learned his craft, he has not stopped innovating. Each handcrafted tabungaw is the product of years of study and careful attention to details and elements that make up the entire piece. 

 These National Living Treasures embody the values of persistence, perfectionism, passion, commitment, and respect for their traditional arts and culture. With the launch of these teaching modules, I hope these values will also be imbibed not just by the youth of their communities but by our young learners throughout the country. That they, our next generation, might know not only of Rizal, Luna or Amorsolo but also of an agile Yakan musician, a prodigious epic chanter, a delicate weaver, a Kalinga master dancer, an intricate metalwork artist, and an innovative tabungaw hatmaker. 

 As a primary advocate and supporter of this project, this launch is timely as we all adapt to the new normal. I am hoping that the younger generation will not only be enlightened on the richness of our culture and tradition, but be inspired to be as creative, artistic, and skillful as our National Living Treasures. Thank you to those who have made this project happen.

Rest assured that we will continue our partnership in the promotion and preservation of our Philippine arts and culture in the years to come.

Thank you and good day.