Preserving heritage toward nation building, is it really possible?

NCCA officially kicked-off the month-long celebration of National Heritage Month

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In a fast-paced society where development is continuously moving toward progress, is it still important for us, especially for the youth, to look back and preserve our heritage and culture?

This is exactly what the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), wants to answer in this year’s month-long celebration of National Heritage Month (NHM), bannering the theme “Heritage: Change and Continuity.”

Ang usaping pang-kultura ay usapang pagkakakilanlan, so it’s an identity,” Oscar G. Casaysay, NCCA executive director told Manila Bulletin Lifestyle during the NHM’s kick-off event in Capiz, Roxaz City last May 2, 2023. “If the youth really don’t understand their history, then probably they will get lost with all that is going on in the world. Dapat maging malinaw sino tayo para alam natin kung saan tayo papunta (It should be clear to us who we are and that will guide us to the path we want to cross).”

In pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 439, s. 2003 declaring every month of May as NHM, the celebration aims to highlight the potential of cultural heritage and cultural properties in enhancing social capital, boosting economic growth, and securing environmental sustainability; showcase the benefits, impacts, and growth opportunities produced by heritage science research and innovation; and promote advocacies and encourage participation in programs that safeguard intangible cultural heritage and conserve of urban heritage.

The NCCA officials together with local government unit officials in Capiz officially kicked-off the month-long celebration of the National Heritage Month

Medyo akala nila hindi ito importante kasi sa araw-araw ano naman ang silbi ng kultura at sining, wala naman ‘yan (In our everyday lives, some may thought that culture and the arts are no longer significant). But then again, when you look through yourself, all the films and short reels are all works of art and the culture,” he said. “Pinapakita mo rito yung mga tradition and practices mo. Kapag hindi malinaw sayo kung sino ka, ang pagiging Pilipino mo, yung mga kabataan hindi na rin nila alam kung saan sila patungo (If it’s clear to you who you are, your identity as a Filipino, then it will be hard for you to know where you’re heading, and this is especially true among the youth).”

With that being said, for 2023, NHM highlights the dynamic nature of heritage as a field that continuously innovates so it can achieve its objective of preserving products of human creativity, which is divided into four subtopics.

First is Sustainable Heritage Management, the practice of managing change and risk in heritage and maximizing its social, cultural, and economic benefits for the current and future generations.

Second is Heritage Science, an interdisciplinary domain of study involving the use of innovative and creative interventions in the understanding, conservation, and use of heritage.

Third is Intangible Cultural Heritage, intergenerational transmission and the provision of a sense of identity across time, where transmission relies upon constant re-creation in the present context. And lastly, Urban Heritage, the conservation of urban heritage in the context of managing urban growth and change in twenty-first-century cities.

Throughout the month of May, NCCA will hold different programs and events both offline and online across the country to cover these four topics, in efforts to educate everyone about the importance of preserving culture toward nation building.

NHM 2023 Commemorative Stamps titled, 'Kalayaan ay Pamana: 125th Anniversary of the First Philippine Republic and Democracy' officially unveiled in Capiz.

Kick-off ceremony
NHM’s kick-off celebration was held at the Capiz Provincial Capitol, Roxas City, Capiz. It featured various folk songs and dances presented by the Capiznon Community. There, the NHM 2023 Commemorative Stamps titled, “Kalayaan ay Pamana: 125th Anniversary of the First Philippine Republic and Democracy” in partnership with the Filipino Heritage Festival Inc. (FHFI), Philippine Postal Corporation, and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) were also unveiled.

Some may ask why NCCA chose Capiz to be the kick-off venue for NHM. And the reason is Province of Capiz—the home to the Pan-ayanon Bukidnon and Ati Indigenous Cultural Communities, is known for its diverse and multi-faceted culture, as reflected in its traditions, customs, and beliefs.

It is also considered a premiere tourist destination in the region that offers unique cultural experiences. Moreover, its people, history, and topographical features also largely contribute to the province's rich indigenous knowledge, systems, and practices such as in dance, music, arts and crafts, among others.

In addition, Capiz is the pilot province that completed the training in the Cultural Mapping Program under the guidance of the NCCA. It has been actively participating in various activities promoting the various cultural and art forms, with the help of the Schools of Living Traditions (SLTs) and the provincial government.

For more information about the events this NHM, click here.