Thus declared humanities professor Felipe de Leon Jr. in the “Buhay na Buhay” lecture series of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), held in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija, with the support of the local government headed by Mayor Allan Gamilla, and civil society led by Armando Giron of Giron Botanic, a cultural complex with a gallery and small museum.
This was the third lecture in the series. Previous lectures have been held in the National Museum in Manila and in Lucena City, Quezon.
The lecturer took a broad view of culture, saying this encompassed oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and events, traditional craftsmanship, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe.
De Leon outlined several categories of culture beginning with “fear-based”; the culture of power in any part of the world, not just in the Philippines. The culture of wealth entails attachment to material goods. In contrast, “trust-based” culture is the search for wisdom, creativity, strength of character, love and sharing.
Ethnicity can bring with it cultural creativity or consultancy, a world view, an idea of reality and a search for truth.
“From these arise a people’s shared values, cultivation of skills that realize these values,” De Leon said. “Rob a people of their own identity and they become passive, lost, indolent and unproductive. This may lead to depression.”
He added, taking on an international viewpoint: “Take away Shakepeare, Newton, even The Beatles… wala (you have nothing).”
The lecturer opted for an indigenous and traditional culture which would foster a sense of sharing: “Arts and crafts are richest, most creative in communal cultures. This applies to food, which in the provinces is more delicious.” He took issue with our modern educational system which fosters individualism and leads to a loss of commitments and indigenous creativity.
Thus, the challenge is to integrate art into every aspect of life, to make every activity a creative challenge. “Every person has a soul, a manifestation of the Supreme Being (Dakilang Manlilikha),” De Leon declared. “Energy flows from the soul to the physical body.
Recognize selfless people who do their work out of a sense of service.”
He cited Pope Francis.
“Being expressive, especially through the performing arts, it’s an effective way to maintain a healthy heart,” De Leon said.” Art seeks to connect hearts, to foster social relations.” —CONTRIBUTED