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ENDLESS SEARCH FOR NATIONAL IDENTITY BUILDS A STRONG CASE FOR CREATING DEPARTMENT OF CULTURE – LEGARDA

In celebration of the National Arts Month, Senator Loren Legarda stressed anew the importance of establishing a Department of Culture in order to enhance the promotion and preservation of the country’s cultural heritage, which is essential in nation building.

Legarda, principal author and sponsor of the proposed Department of Culture Act, said that the creation of a full-scale department is important to have a legitimate government body that would initiate programs and coordinate all activities of promoting national identity and culture.

“Arts and culture are essential to instill pride of place. But oftentimes, we see art as merely a form of expression without realizing that it is an enabler of development; we see culture as a form of entertainment, something we can appreciate in museums and during special events, without realizing that it is our identity,” the veteran legislator explained.

“We need to have a strong sense of national identity and that is one of our main goals in reorganizing the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) into the Department of Culture,” the seasoned lawmaker added.

The lady senator cited the study by National Artist for Literature and NCCA Chairperson Virgilio Almario, National Artist for Music Ramon Santos, and Dr. Jose Dalisay, Jr. titled, “Culture for National Unity: A Proposal for the Establishment of a Department of Culture.”

The study, which stresses on the importance of the development of art and culture and the need to create a full-scale department, states: “Filipinos direly need a sense of national identity. This is crucial to the nation’s future… a sense of national identity – the sense of a common heritage and a shared past, and therefore a shared stake in the outcome of the country’s present strivings and struggles. If Filipinos are to respect themselves and if they seek to gain the respect and recognition of the world at large, they must first find their soul and cherish it.”

A Department of Culture, said Legarda, would give the arts and culture sector more focus and attention and a stronger fiscal position to recommend and implement government’s policies and programs for the promotion of culture and the arts.

“We need an empowered agency that will adequately support the preservation, enrichment, and dynamic evolution of a Filipino national culture based on the principle of unity in diversity in a climate of free artistic and intellectual expression,” she said.

Legarda said the proposed measure addresses the need for a clear policy framework and a lead agency that will preserve and sustain traditional arts, crafts and local industries deeply ingrained in the Filipino culture.

It will develop, manage and be responsible for the implementation of policy, legislation and strategic direction for the protection, safeguarding, regulation, preservation, development, management, dissemination and promotion of Philippine culture and the arts.

The creation of the Department would also rationalize all the existing duplications of functions from among the current concerned cultural agencies or government offices. Activities will be coordinated, which will require full cooperation of other departments such as in the cases involving the conservation, preservation and safeguarding of our national heritage and patrimony. There will be adequate mandate and police power in continuing the preservation and conservation efforts.

Moreover, all agencies for culture and arts, which are currently under different departments – such as the National Museum and the National Book Development Board, which are under the Department of Education, and the Intramuros Administration, Nayong Pilipino Foundation and the National Parks Development Committee, which are attached agencies of the Department of Tourism – will all be attached under the Department of Culture.

There will also be a National Academy of Culture and Arts, an association of the nation’s foremost leaders and exponents of culture and the arts, the primary purpose of which is to support the mandate of the Department as an independent body of eminent persons.

“The Department of Culture will promote a national identity, which will provide our nation a strong sense of direction and order of priorities, and that identity should be at the core of our development if what we strive is to be truly a sovereign nation,” Legarda concluded.

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