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Earth Month: Legarda explains link between Indigenous Peoples, nature |

Arts and Culture

Earth Month: Legarda explains link between Indigenous Peoples, nature

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo -
Earth Month: Legarda explains link between Indigenous Peoples, nature
Senator and Senate President pro tempore Loren Legarda at the recent opening of School of Living Traditions (SLT) exhibit in Metropolitan Theater in Manila; Arroceros Forest Park fronting Metropolitan Theater in Manila / Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

MANILA, Philippines — Ahead of Earth Month this month and Earth Day on April 22, Senator and Senate President pro tempore Loren Legarda urged fellow Filipinos to take care of Mother Earth to preserve local arts and culture.

In her speech at the recent opening of Schools of Living Traditions (SLT) exhibit in Metropolitan Theater in Manila, Legarda said that part of “pagpapahalaga sa pananatili ng ‘di materyal na pamana” is taking care of natural resources.

“Ang bawat hakbang na ating sinusulong ay naglalayong mapanatili ang yaman ng kultura at patuloy na magbigay ng kabuhayan at karangalan sa ating mga tubong kumunidad. Hinihikayat ko rin kayo na bigyan ng sapat at tamang pangangalaga ang ating kalikasan. Bakit? Dahil ang ating sining at kultura ay konektado sa ating kapaligiran. Dito nanggagaling ang mga materyales na ginagamit ng ating mga kultural na manggagawa. At pati na rin ng ating mga katutubo sa paglikha ng maganda at de-kalidad na mga produktong sumisimbolo sa ating pagka-Pilipino. Kaya konektado talaga ang kalikasan at kapaligiran, pati na rin ang ating sining at kultura.”

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Culture and Arts, Legarda said she is proposing to National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to make the SLT exhibit a roving one that could visit malls and other public places. 

She defined SLT as “non-formal centers of learning where cultural masters transmit their traditional knowledge and skills to the young members of the community” registered under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Good Safeguarding Practices.

According to her, about 431 SLTs have been identified all over the country so far, and apart from locating them and monitoring their statuses, government has been providing instruments and equipment for these SLTs’ sustainability in continuing their arts, crafts, traditions and livelihood.

“Isa rin sa mga proyektong aking sinusuportahan ‘yung paglilimbag ng mga aklat on every day culture. I hope we have enough of that and we can distribute it, na tumatalakay sa mga SLTs at naglalayong maging educational na sanggunian para sa mga mag-aaral, mga mananaliksik, mga artists, mga kultural na manggagawa, upang mas maintindihan at malaman ang mga kalagayan ng mga SLTs,” she shared.

She said among the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) that benefited from the SLT projects include the Mandaya, the Bilaan and the Bagobos. 

By Arts Month in February next year, Legarda said they are planning to have a national arts and crafts fair curated only for SLTs and with performances from IPs. If she could not gather all 431 SLT centers for the event, she targets to haul even half of that number, and she is also planning to stage the fair regionally. Her goal for December 2025 is to have a venue to gather everyone.

“December 16, 2021, at the height of COVID (pandemic), the SLT was recognized as a program, project, activity that best reflects the principles, the objectives of the 2003 convention for the safeguarding of the intangible, cultural heritage and places great emphasis for the central role of communities, groups and individuals, and in particular, indigenous communities, in safeguarding their intangible cultural heritage,” she said.

“Ibig sabihin po n’yan, ‘yung hindi nakikitang istraktura. Hindi po s’ya monumento. Hindi po s’ya gusali. Hindi po s’ya makikita, mahahawakan. Ang nakikita n’yo, ang mga produkto galing sa kanilang mga kaalaman at skills… Ang mga SLT ay nasa UNESCO rehistro ng Good Safeguarding Practices kaya kailangang pangalagaan natin.”

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