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Filipino Heritage innovations

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May is the month we celebrate National Heritage. But this year is unusual and haunting in our lifetime. People will have to strive hard, survive and find the means to fight the unseen enemy. The traditional festivals that happen around the country have been canceled. Due to the pandemic lockdown, National Heritage Month’s promotions, announcements, events, conferences, competitions and all programs, events and activities are online.

It is at this time that Filipino Heritage Festival, Inc. (FHFI), in partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), has an ongoing Heritage Essay Writing Contest which runs until May 29. The theme is “Stories of Heritage,” with the youth challenged to write a story about heritage, traditions and culture — stories that may have been passed on and narrated by their elders. The traditions can range from music such as the , dance, Filipino literary forms such as the balagtasan, a chant from the North, South, East and West, Filipino cinema and more. Folklore, myths and legends, these and more can be written about and be the opportunity to show the skills, creativity and talents of the youth. The essay-writing contest in English and Filipino is open to Filipinos between 16 and 20 years of age, both students and out-of-school youth.

FHFI, in partnership with the NCCA, “brings to fore… a new awareness of traditions, practices, folklore, songs, dances and centuries old architectural wonders, this time in a new form of platform, online, social media and various forms applications and platforms, from webinars, to Zoom… For years now, FHFI and all of its partners promoted appreciation, awareness, interest, enthusiasm and strengthened everyone’s knowledge and information on the legacies of Filipino cultural history. This year is a 360-degree turn with the events of the world,” FHFI president Armita B. Rufino remarked.

While the country is very much focused on flattening the curve and the socio-economic effects of the pandemic, FHFI and NCCA believe that this is a most vital moment in history to pursue the awareness and promotion of heritage.

“This will instill in the minds of every Filipino that there is a story to share, to recognize the country’s leaders and for the youth to give their share and contribute in the promotion of heritage and this time not on a face-to-face method,” she explained.

To do this, the FHFI is also holding a fun and entertaining challenge, entitled, “Wander, Write and Win.” Simply post a picture and make sure you are in it. For the first week, May 11-17, the topic is Natural Resources; from May 18-24: Built Structures and May 25-31: Festival and Fiestas. The top 10 each week win e-load worth P500. This activity aims to promote the various commendable and enticing places and destinations to be visited in the future.

Then there is the launch of the youth forum entitled, That Thing Called Pamana: Kuwentuhang Pamana Conversation on Cultural Heritage — Part 1 which will have experts from institutional and private sectors discussing heritage on May 28, 10 a.m., via NCCA FB Live. The resource speakers are Fr. Harold Rentoria, Kaye Malilong-Isberto, and John Delan Robillos. Topics will include: “Cultural Mapping and NCCA Programs in times of Pandemic”; “What will happen to the national celebration in time of Pandemic” and “Looking Forward to Heritage in the New Normal Scene.”

Part 2 of the forum is Conversations on Cultural Heritage — (Youth Heritage Advocates) which will be held on May 29, 10 a.m., at via NCCA FB Live. The resource speakers and technical experts are Stephen Pamorada (NCCA), Sheena Botiwey or Johhan Ararao (Intramuros Administration), Kathleen Tantuico, Ysabel De Dios (Save San Sebastian Basilica), and representatives from Hub Escolta and other arts organizations. The topics include: “Youth and Heritage,” “How to make heritage conservation more appealing to the youth,” and “Tips on how to advocate further for Filipino heritage.”

Other online events for Heritage Month include Museo Pambata’s “Sa Kwento ng Lahi at Larong Masaya, Bata ang Bida” on May 30. This coincides with Philpost’s Commemorative Stamp launch online. This year’s theme focuses on traditional Filipino games for children’s appreciation of the simple fun enjoyed by their elders. The memories should be preserved in this century of rapid technology.

Other activities include:

Darangen ni Bantuge Live Stream: May 9, 7:30 p.m., YouTube link

#AtHomeWithPhilippineBalletTheatre, May 9-15

Journeys on a Galleon World Premiere presentation (it was shown in 2018 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines) Online Premiere, 5 p.m., YouTube

KUWERDAS: Kasaysayan at Pag-Unlad ng Rondalla sa Filipinas on May 22. An exhibition on Rondalla Music Heritage via the Metropolitan Museum of Manila’s White Cube

Pamana ng Filipino premieres on YouTube on May 30, 5 p.m. This is a Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra performance that was held at the Rizal Park Open Air Auditorium during the National Arts Month in 2017) .

There are also a couple of FHFI events that will be held later this year. These are the Kulay sa Tubig Water Color Exhibition and Competition from July 28 to Aug. 4 at the SM Megamall Fashion Hall; and the exhibit Leandro V. Locsin, National Artist for Architecture from Nov. 4 to Dec. 16 at Silay City, Negros Occidental (in partnership with the SilayLGU and Joey Gaston).

Some of FHFI’s annual events that were postponed may be viewed via YouTube, the FHFI Facebook page, its website and Instagram. Already uploaded are the LARO video edit (YouTube) which is a collection of event documentation pictures; the Traditional Biblical Santa Cruz de Mayo event coverage from 2019; and the FHFI Partner FUNtastic Philippines video edit using photographs from the 100 Women, 100 Ways of Life exhibit.

Mabuhay, Filipino Heritage Festival Inc.!


Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.

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