In April 1992, the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan or the National Living Treasures Award was institutionalized through Republic Act No. 7355. Tasked with the administration and implementation of the Award is the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the highest policy-making and coordinating body for culture and the arts of the State. The NCCA, through the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan Committee and an Ad Hoc Panel of Experts, conducts the search for the finest traditional artists of the land, adopts a program that will ensure the transfer of their skills to others and undertakes measures to promote a genuine appreciation of and instill pride among our people about the genius of the Manlilikha ng Bayan.
First awarded in 1993 to three outstanding artists in music and poetry, the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan has its roots in the 1988 National Folk Artists Award organized by the Rotary Club of Makati-Ayala. As a group, these folk and traditional artists reflect the diverse heritage and cultural traditions that transcend their beginnings to become part of our national character. As Filipinos, they bring age-old customs, crafts and ways of living to the attention and appreciation of Filipino life. They provide us with a vision of ourselves and of our nation, a vision we might be able to realize someday, once we are given the opportunity to be true to ourselves as these artists have remained truthful to their art.
As envisioned under R.A. 7355, “Manlilikha ng Bayan” shall mean a citizen engaged in any traditional art uniquely Filipino whose distinctive skills have reached such a high level of technical and artistic excellence and have been passed on to and widely practiced by the present generation in his/her community with the same degree of technical and artistic competence.
Befitting their national status, the presence of Gawad ng Manlilikha ng Bayan Awardess are required in the events under the institutional programs and projects of the NCCA such as the Philippine National Arts Month, the National Heritage Month, and other important national and regional cultural celebrations and similar future events. (Download copy of NCCA Board Resolution 2008-486: Requiring the Participation of the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan Awardees in National Celebrations).
How Does One Become a Manlilikha ng Bayan?
To become a “Manlilikha ng Bayan”, the candidate must possess the following qualifications:
a. He/she is an inhabitant of an indigenous/traditional cultural community anywhere in the Philippines that has preserved indigenous customs, beliefs, rituals and traditions and/or has syncretized whatever external elements that have influenced it.
b. He/she must have engaged in a folk art tradition that has been in existence and documented for at least fifty (50) years.
c. He/she must have consistently performed or produced over a significant period, works of superior and distinctive quality.
d. He/she must possess a mastery of tools and materials needed by the art, and must have an established reputation in the art as master and maker of works of extraordinary technical quality.
e. He/she must have passed on and/or will pass on to other members of the community their skills in the folk art for which the community is traditionally known.
A traditional artist who possesses all the qualities of a Manlilikha ng Bayan candidate, but due to age or infirmity has left him/her incapable of teaching further his/her craft, may still be recognized if:
a. He/she had created a significant body of works and/or has consistently displayed excellence in the practice of his/her art, thus achieving important contributions for its development.
b. He/she has been instrumental in the revitalization of his/her community’s artistic tradition.
c. a. He/she has passed on to the other members of the community skills in the folk art for which the community is traditionally known.
d. His/her community has recognized him/her as master and teacher of his/her craft.
The Award shall be given in each, but not limited to the following categories of traditional folk arts, viz.: folk architecture, maritime transport, weaving carving, performing arts, literature, graphic and plastic arts, ornament, textile or fiber art, pottery and other artistic expressions of traditional culture. Consideration shall be given to geographical distribution and balance of artistic categories.
What are the incentives received by the awardee?
A Manlilikha ng Bayan awardee receives a specially designed gold medallion, an initial grant of P100,000 and P10,000 monthly stipend for life. In consonance with the provision of Republic Act No. 7355, which states that “the monetary grant may be increased whenever circumstances so warrant,” the NCCA board approved an additional monthly personal allowance of P14,000 for the awardees as well as a maximum cumulative amount of P750,000 medical and hospitalization benefits annually similar to that received by the National Artists and funeral assistance/tribute fit for a National Living Treasure.
Ad Hoc Panel of Experts
To ensure a fair selection of the potential awardees, the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan Committee shall be assisted by an Ad Hoc Panel of Experts consisting of experts in the traditional folk arts categories listed above. The names of those selected to become members of the Ad Hoc Panel of Experts shall be submitted to the NCCA Board of Commissioners for proper designation. The Ad Hoc Panel of Experts may be composed of the members of the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan Committee, one representative from each of the committees of the Subcommission on Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts, representatives from the Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA), National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), and representatives from other government and non-government instrumentalities or other appropriate institutions whose representation shall be instituted by the NCCA Board from time to time. The term of the members shall expire upon completion of the search and selection process.
The Ad Hoc Panel of Experts shall constitute from among themselves Ad Hoc Search Committees that shall be deployed to the various parts of the country, after determining the priority areas, to conduct a thorough search and documentation of candidates for the awards in the traditional folk arts category respectively assigned to them.
Nominations may come from the members of the Ad Hoc Panel of Experts based on their knowledge and expertise. Additional nominations may come from the Subcommission on Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts, cultural, government and private institutions, local cultural offices, universities and other persons knowledgeable in any of the identified categories.
In the process of their search, the Ad Hoc Search Committees may identify additional nominees.
In conducting the search, the Ad Hoc Search Committees shall be guided by and shall faithfully adhere to the criteria and qualifications for becoming a Manlilikha ng Bayan as set forth in the law and these Rules and Regulations.
The duration of the nomination process ends upon submission of the final list of nominees of the Ad Hoc Search Committees to the Ad Hoc Panel of Experts.
Ad Hoc Panel of Reviewers
The Ad Hoc Panel of Experts shall then constitute an Ad Hoc Screening Committee who shall recommend nominees for the award to an Ad Hoc Panel of Reviewers.
The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan Committee and Ad Hoc Panel of Experts shall constitute from among scholars, practitioners and experts in the field of traditional arts an Ad Hoc Panel of Reviewers that shall review the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Screening Committee and evaluate the qualifications of the nominees. The documentation previously undertaken by the Ad Hoc Search Committees shall be a key factor in the evaluation process.
The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan Committee shall submit to the NCCA the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Panel of Reviewers for appropriate action.
The names of the awardees approved by the NCCA Board shall be submitted to the President of the Philippines for proclamation.