Issue of July 9, 2017
Mt. Province

69th Courier Anniversary Issue
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Culture pushed as tool in ASEAN promotion
by Susan C. Aro / PIA

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Some elements of Cordillera’s culture in terms of arts, craftsmanship, traditional techniques and practices, and environmental protection may be tapped and harnessed for the promotion of the region’s ethnicity within the Southeast Asian perspective of culture of sharing.

Professor Felipe de Leon Jr., former National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) chairman, who was one of the resource persons in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) multisectoral forum in Benguet recently, made the suggestion as he stressed the need to harness such elements of culture built upon communal or shared creativity.

However, he cautioned about the need to pass culture from one generation to the other as it is about bearing and teaching.

“Culture does not pass through blood but need to be taught,” de Leon said.  

One of the specialized craftsmanship de Leon appreciated is the kabite or traditional rip-rap, which the Cordillerans are good at. The Cordillera way of rip-rapping is proven through ages as structurally sound and aesthetically interlocked. He broached the idea of having it incorporated in the school curriculum to preserve such indigenous skill and practice.

Another high skill of craftsmanship that de Leon believes needed to be sustained is wood carving. However, the practice is limited due to regulation of tree cutting. He suggested that government should allow the establishment of mini-forest as source of wood for carving ventures.

De Leon also urged the promotion of the Cordillera culinary arts by showcasing indigenous food delicacies practiced in other areas.

The indigenous way of resolving conflicts is also a practice that the former NCCA official cited, as this is anchored on protection of peace and stability, which is the primary aim of the establishment of ASEAN.

Environmental protection of water sources and forest protection are also practices that need to be harnessed, he added.

“The cultivation and wise use of our cultural assets – our ethnicities or indigenous knowledge systems, skills, and practices – is our comparative advantage in global society. Our indigenous wisdom is an inexhaustible resource and thus, the basis of sustainable development,” de Leon said.

“It is high time that we take a different path, not one where the obsession with power kills the goose that lays the golden egg, but one that harnesses to the full the strengths of our ethnicities and sharing these with other countries as the best foundation for building our societies and promoting harmony of civilizations,” he added.

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