Dama Ko Lahi Ko bets on Filipino culture as economic stimulus

Celebrating Filipino identity through the senses

Dama Ko Lahi Ko, the volunteer-driven initiative encourages the celebration of Filipino culture through the five senses every Independence Day, is entering its third year.

Established in 2021 by the Filipino Culture Collective, the movement banks on the Filipino’s massive and constant presence on social media to pique interest in and spread awareness of what makes Filipino culture unique. In this way, the movement seeks to spotlight Filipino culture (in products, services, and experiences) on the global menu.

Modern Creative Visionaries
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Pansalat: Award-winning furniture designer Ito Kish

In an event held at the Ito Kish showroom, prominent figures from various creative fields shared their insights on promoting Filipino culture locally and abroad.

Each speaker focused on a sense. Award-winning furniture designer Ito Kish described how growing up in San Pablo, Laguna, was a tactile inspiration. Solihiya chairs at his grandmother’s house, balusters that let in cool breezes, became memories woven into his creativity. “Filipino will always be my design language,” Kish said.

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Paningin: Renowned scenographer Gino Gonzales

Renowned scenographer Gino Gonzales illustrated the impact of the terno in Philippine history to championing the sense of sight, with vintage photographs showing how the terno was worn in everyday life. “When you wear a terno, you wear your heart on your sleeve,” he said. “You wear your nationality for everyone to know that you are Filipino.”

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Paningin: Fashion and portrait photographer Artu Nepomuceno

Artu Nepomuceno, one of the most talked about young photographers today, shared his experience of shooting cultural icon Apo Whang-od for Vogue’s magazine’s April 2023 issue, which rapidly gained worldwide acclaim. “I wanted to photograph Apo Whang-od like my lola,” he said. “When people abroad message me about the cover, they thank me for bringing a piece of home to the world. And now this photo exists in homes everywhere.”

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Pandinig: Katutubong Diva Bayang Barrios

Bayang Barrios’ lilting voice made its entrance before her, captivating the audience. The indigenous musician spoke of her journey to embracing her Manobo roots, culture, and music. She emphasized that more people should appreciate the different kinds of music in our heritage. “Kung hindi natin mamahalin ang kulturang atin, tayo po ay magkakawatak-watak at mismong bansa ay hihina at walang mapatutunguhan.”

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Panlasa and Pang-amoy: Restaurateur Jenny Yrasuegui

Finally, restaurateur Jenny Yrasuegui spoke for the senses of smell and taste. She pointed out that the combination of Filipino hospitality and food is unparalleled. “Filipino food does not need to be elevated because there is nothing to elevate,” she said. “All you need to do is to find creative ways of presenting it.”

Culture and Soft Power
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Filipino Culture Collective founders Len Cabili and Leigh Reyes

During the event, the movement’s co-founders Leigh Reyes and Len Cabili emphasized the importance of Filipino culture as a soft power in a world seeking what’s authentic, memorable, and valuable.

“What can help us advance as a nation can come from who we are. We can all be part of it by living our culture collectively, consciously, and consistently in our everyday lives,” the co-founders emphasized.

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Photo shows (top row from left to right) Len Cabili, Gino Gonzales, Leigh Reyes, (bottom row from left to right) Bayang Barrios, Ito Kish, Jenny Yrasuegui

Dama Ko Lahi Ko is the unifying theme that compiles all Filipino experiences within the framework of the five senses. By using the hashtag #DamaKoLahiKo when sharing Filipino themes, everyone can actively support the growth and recognition of Filipino culture and talent—shaping a future where the Filipino identity thrives both at home and abroad.

For more information on Dama Ko Lahi Ko and upcoming events, please visit damakolahiko.com or follow us on Instagram: @damakolahiko.