In 2011, National Artist for Literature and current chair of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Virgilio Almario, National Artist for Music Ramon Santos, and Dr. Jose Dalisay Jr. prepared a study titled, Culture for National Unity: A Proposal for the Establishment of a Department of Culture.
Allow me to quote two paragraphs of the study to stress on the importance of the development of arts and culture, and the need to create a full-scale Department:
"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. That is the mission of culture, and of the Department of Culture we envisage and propose."
Mr. President, it is in this context that I sponsor today Senate Bill No. 1528 under Committee Report 137, an Act Establishing the Department of Culture, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes.
Art and culture is essential for nation building and 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.
With the establishment of a Department of Culture, we seek to mainstream culture and arts into the government's development agenda.
We are pleased that this measure is among the priority legislation of this Administration as espoused in the Culture Chapter of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022. Likewise, this was endorsed to MalacaAang as one of the priority legislative agenda of the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet Cluster.
The creation of the said Department is essential to having a legitimate government body that would coordinate all activities of promoting "national identity and culture". As such, there would be a seat in the Cabinet. It means that the Department will have a head that will be treated as equals by the heads of other government departments and bureaus. It means that the concern of culture would be mainstreamed in institutional development.
There will now be a national body that 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.
Under the proposed Department, there will be six bureaus:
Bureau of Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts Development
Bureau of Cultural Properties Protection and Regulation
Bureau of Cultural Properties Preservation
Bureau of Artistic Resources Development
Bureau of Cultural Research, Education and Dissemination
Bureau of Cultural and Creative Industries
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.
At present, there are agencies for culture and arts that are 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.
The following agencies will now be attached to this Department:
Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP)
National Museum of the Philippines (NMP)
National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP)
National Library of the Philippines (NLP)
National Archives of the Philippines (NAP)
Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF)
Intramuros Administration (IA)
National Parks Development Committee (NPDC)
Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF)
Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP)
National Book Development Board (NBDB)
Design Center of the Philippines
Moreover, the following National Institutes, with their respective networks throughout the country, will be established under the Department:
National Institute of Living Traditions, which will be responsible for programs related to the safeguarding, sustainability, propagation and intergenerational transmission of intangible cultural heritage, particularly that which pertains to indigenous cultural communities. The Schools of Living Traditions (SLTs) will be under this Institute.
National Institute of Cultural Heritage Preservation, which will be responsible for programs related to national capacity building in the area of conservation arts, sciences and trades with respect to the preservation of immovable and movable cultural property and with a particular focus on vocational training for the youth. Eskwela Talyer or Workshop Schools will be established under this Institute.
National Institute of Culture and Arts Management, which will be responsible for programs related to the education, training and certification of cultural officers and personnel as a necessary qualification for employment and promotion in the National Government and in local governments.
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 amount needed for the initial implementation of the measure will be taken from the current appropriation for the NCCA. Moreover, all other existing cultural agencies that will be under the Department also have their respective budgets under the General Appropriations Act.
The following year, a budget of not less than Two Billion Pesos shall be appropriated for the operations and maintenance of the Department of Culture.
It is time that we change the mindset that culture is merely for entertainment, tourism or leisure. Our culture is our soul, our identity. It is what binds us Filipinos no matter how diverse we are. We can no longer allow it to be merely on the hindquarters of nation building.
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.
For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to lend their valuable support for the swift passage of this measure.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Source: Senate of the Philippines