Sponsorship Speech on a Resolution Congratulating and Commending the Nine Recipients of the GAMABA Award For Their Exemplary Contributions to the Promotion and Safeguarding of our Philippine Cultural Heritage

April 29, 2024

Mr. President, my dear colleagues,

I stand with great delight and honor before you today as we formally adopt Senate Resolution No. 959. The “Resolution Congratulating and Commending the Nine Recipients of the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA) Award, or the National Living Treasures Award for Their Exemplary Contributions to the Promotion and Safeguarding of Our Philippine Cultural Heritage,” is one of my humble commitments in supporting the refinement of our country’s culture and arts. And of course, this resolution is a testament that culture is indeed a part of our nation-building and policy-making here in the hallowed halls of the Senate.

Last year has been an enriching journey in the line of culture because of our long list of achievements, including Presidential Proclamation No. 427, series 2023, declaring nine new Manlilikha ng Bayan, which is a great event to conclude 2023. Several factors are causing setbacks in the safeguarding of our traditional arts. Modernization and digitization affect the interests of our youth, making them less drawn to the practice of traditional arts. The hundred years of colonization and neoliberalism highly influenced our culture and way of life, thus slowly erasing some of the fundamental pillars of our identity. Our culture is vulnerable to countless influences, and together, we shall strive to preserve and revitalize it.

I have committed to multiple cultural initiatives and engaged with an overwhelming number of cultural bearers and masters across the country. I am a proud and honored advocate of our cultural heritage, and GAMABA is one of my priorities. Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA), or the National Living Treasures Award, is a prime and highly effective effort to safeguard and transmit traditional arts to our youth. Institutionalized through Republic Act No. 7355, GAMABA recognizes the finest traditional artists of our country, especially those outside the metro. It is a complex process that decentralizes our arts and ensures that the skills will be practiced and carried on for the coming years.

In line with this, I would like to call for the support of all my colleagues to join us in championing cultural programs, projects, and advocacies. I assure you that cultural work is honorable and fulfilling as you experience and embrace our vast and diverse heritage. I am looking forward to this day because, finally, we are graced with the presence of our nine GAMABA awardees. Two of them have already blessed us here at the plenary with their magnificent chants during the National Arts Month last February – Adelita Romualdo Bagcal, an Ilocano master of oral traditions from Banna, Ilocos Norte, and Rosie Godwino Sula, a Tboli chanter from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. They are joined by Abina Tawide Coguit from La Paz, Agusan del Sur, an Agusan Manobo embroiderer; a Sama master of traditional dance from Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, Sakinur-ain Mugong Delasas; Tboli brasscaster from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Bundos Bansil Fara; Marife Ravidas Ganahon, a Higaonon mat weaver from Malaybalay, Bukidnon; Amparo Balansi Mabanag, a Ga’dang embroiderer from Paracelis, Mountain Province; Samporonia Pagsac Madanlo, a Mandaya ikat weaver from Caraga, Davao Oriental; Tboli ikat weaver from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Barbara Kibed Ofong.

Alam ninyo, tuwang-tuwa ako at sobrang nakakataba ng puso kapag personal kong nakakasalamuha ang ating mga Manlilikha ng Bayan, sila ang nagbibigay buhay sa ating sining. Ang kanilang mga kuwento ay punong-puno ng karanasan at kasanayan. Ang kanilang mga kamay at talento ang nagpanday at nagpapatuloy ng kultura ng kanilang mga komunidad. Ang kanilang buhay at kagalingan ay hindi matatawaran. Ito ay mga haligi ng ating pagkakakilanlan, mga paalala ng mga pamana, at daluyan ng ating pagkamalikhain at pagka-Filipino.

As we celebrate this momentous occasion, let us express our deepest gratitude and recognition to our 2023 GAMABA Awardees. Patuloy natin silang pagpugayan, pasalamatan, at suportahan. Isang makasining na araw at isang luntiang Pilipinas sa ating lahat!

Thank you, Mr. President.