Artists call for more govt focus on RP Culture

Artists call for more gov’t focus on RP culture in Good Friday rally

Former National Artist awardees and various writers staged on Good Friday a rally in Manila to appeal for more government attention to Filipino culture and the arts. The group of artists, led by Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika at Anyo (LIRA) and the Unyon ng mga Manunulat ng Pilipinas (UMPIL), presented a “seven-point agenda" for candidates in the May polls to bring back the state’s support for the arts. “It is necessary to formulate a national policy that fully recognizes and gives due importance to culture as the core and foundation of government political and economic policy," said National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario, also known by his pseudonym Rio Alma, and convenor of the artists’ group.

The group’s “seven-point agenda" included the creation of a separate Department of Culture, the promotion of the Filipino language, and greater funding for the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage, among others. During the rally, which was held at the Plaza Francisco Balagtas to coincide with Filipino poet Francisco Balagtas’ 222nd birth anniversary, the group likewise carried brooms, dust pans and rags to signify the call for a cleaner government focused on preserving the country’s culture. Almario also urged the next government to formulate policies based on Filipino culture, because it is “the center of all things." “Everything must emanate from culture… This is not only my belief, but this idea is being implemented in Japan, Korea and China. That is why these countries never go wrong in their policies all because culture is where their policies are anchored," he said.

Joining Almario as lead signatories of the cultural agenda were the following: Manila Historical and Heritage Committee Vice Chair Gemma Cruz Araneta; Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for Literature; Benedicto “Bencab" Cabrera, National Artist for Visual Arts; critic Isagani R. Cruz, representing Wika ng Kultura at Agham (WIKA); University of the Philippines Diliman Deans Zosimo Lee (Social Science and Philosophy), Danilo Silvestre (Architecture), and Rolando Tolentino (Mass Communication); poet Romulo Baquiran Jr., chair of the Filipinas Institute of Translation; poet Victor Emmanuel Carmelo Nadera Jr., UMPIL chair; poet Phillip Kimpo Jr., LIRA president; and singer and songwriter Gary Granada. After the clean-up, Lumbera and Liberal Party senatorial candidate Sonia Roco led the offering of flowers at the Balagtas monument, while the participants sang the nationalist classic “Bayan Ko."

The attendees carried placards and streamers that echoed their cultural agenda, as well as commentary on the recent Presidential “midnight appointments" at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and last year’s National Artist Awards controversy.—Andreo C. Calonzo/JV, GMANews.TV

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