CULTURE and art workers and advocates in the country are elated on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte giving importance to Filipino culture and heritage.
“We are very happy that the President is prioritizing the culture and heritage of the country,” Ferdinand Isleta, Arts Section Head of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts, said during the Kapihan sa Baguio on the NCCA Call for Project Proposal 2018.
Isleta said the arts and culture workers are happy the President mentioned in his second State of the Nation Address on Monday the importance of the Balangiga Bells and demanded for the return of the historic bells seized by the US from the Balangiga Church in Eastern Samar in 1901 as war booty during the Philippine-American war.
The Balangiga bells were pealed to signal the surprise attack by the Filipinos while the American soldiers were eating breakfast on September 28, 1901. The Americans retaliated burning the place and killing many Filipinos then theyc took away the bells.
“Give us back those Balangiga bells. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage. Those bells are reminders of the gallantry and heroism of our forebears who resisted the American colonizers and sacrificed their lives in the process” the President said in his State of the Nation Address.
Isleta also informed the Duterte Administration has included culture to be part of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022.
“It is a welcome development that there is an entire chapter on culture in the PDP because there used to be little reference to it in the previous plans,” he said.
The PDP 2017-2022 is the first medium-term plan to be anchored on a national long-term vision, or Ambisyon Natin 2040, which represents the collective vision and aspirations of Filipinos for themselves and for the country.
Isleta explained that last year, the NCCA was directed by the Office of the President to invite stakeholders to develop the section of culture in the PDP. This is a very important contribution of the administration in terms of ensuring that culture is part of the government.