May is National Heritage Month, and the celebration couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, considering that some heritage structures are under siege, from Manila to the Visayas.
Many structures have been demolished and converted into centers of commerce, or tastelessly renovated. These include old churches, ancestral homes and buildings with a history.
The theme of the nationwide festival ([email protected]) is “Malasakit para sa Pamana” (Care for Heritage). There will be cultural activities that will seek new awareness of age-old traditions, cultural practices, song, dance and centuries-old architectural landmarks.
Youth forums on heritage will be held in six areas: Ormoc City, Leyte; Ilagan City, Isabela; Mati City, Davao; Cagayan de Oro City; and Tayabas, Quezon.
This was announced at a recent press conference at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in Intramuros, Manila.
Speakers were Rico Pableo Jr., NCCA executive director; Armita Rufino, president of Filipino Heritage Festival, Inc (FHFI); Fr. Harold Rentoria, OSA, NCCA commissioner and head of the NCCA Subcommission on Cultural Heritage; Araceli Salas of the FHFI; and Jay Gaspar, Ormoc City Youth Development officer.
Young members of the Sindaw Philippines Performing Arts Guild performed Filipino folk dances.
Soprano Karla Gutierrez of the Philippine Opera Company cut loose with Ernani Cuenco’s “Gaano Kita Ka Mahal” and prevailed upon Pableo and Fr. Rentoria to join her, thus enlivening the staid proceedings.
“When we talk about heritage, it should be every month,” observed Pableo. “We should have a sense of the past, heritage should be part of everyday life. The past helps us understand certain events in our life.”
He added: “Our churches are important culturally. Praying, going to church makes us Filipinos, as we are a religious people. As Filipinos, we are a people for others. We must be true to the values we have learned from our parents and grandparents.”
Activities in Manila include a musical play, “Sancitissima,” by Don Bosco Tondo, May 2-3, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theater); “Pilipino Komiks” by Philippine Ballet Theater at CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater); “Pamana ng Filipino,” a concert of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra with pianist Raul Sunico; “Abot-Tanaw: Tracing Local Horizons,” a photo exhibit of Philippine sunsets at Metropolitan Museum of Manila (May 8-June 23); “Arte Filipino: Art Installations by Rachy Cuna” at Conrad Hotel (opens May 15); “Pangalay sa Bayan–Celebrating Women Through Dance,” with choreography by Ligaya Fernando Amilbangsa (Robinsons Place Manila on May 9); “Parian sa Binondo” at Lucky Chinatown Mall (May 20); and a traditional Biblical Santa Cruz de Mayo procession in Intramuros on May 21, and at the SM Mall of Asia on May 12.
Angat Kabataan Camp 2017, the summer youth camp on cultural heritage, will be held in Magalang, Pampanga province.
Rentoria said the festival “will focus on the young people, to empower the youth, educate them, help them through cultural preservation. “The real heritage is the people themselves. So, for many years we have helped the government reach out to the different areas, help the youth, help promote peace in the country.”
Will the message of National Heritage Month be heard by those who, like the convicted plunderer mayor of Manila, appear hellbent on desecrating the Rizal Monument by allowing a skyscraper to mar its skyline and photobomb its view, if not outrightly demolishing heritage structures and replacing them with yet another commercial center?—CONTRIBUTED