BACKGROUND

The Sagisag Kultura (SK) ng Filipinas aims to gather, select and promote the cultural icons of the country, creating a database and registry of these symbols of Philippine culture. Under the Philippine Cultural Education Program (PCEP), this is a cultural education project of the NCCA, through its Subcommission on Cultural Dissemination (SCD) headed by Alice A. Pañares and PCEP Task Force headed by Elmar Ingles, in cooperation with the Filipinas Institute of Translation (FIT) and Wika ng Kultura at Agham (WIKA).

SK was initiated by National Artist for literature Virgilio S. Almario through a letter to NCCA chairman Felipe M. de Leon, Jr. titled “Mungkahing Focus ng Cultural Education Mulang 2011,” in which Almario emphasized the important involvement of the NCCA in the ongoing changes in national education with the K-12 program. He said that it would be an opportune time for the NCCA to advance its two advocacies of a culture-based education and Filipino as the language of instruction with the revisions in curriculum, preparation of teaching guides and model lesson plans and teacher training. These can be proposed to the Department of Education (DepEd).

The proposal was approved in a general meeting of NCCA commissioners on July 14, 2011, with funding provided through the National Committee on Language and Translation (NCLT) and the SCD through its PCEP. With Almario, Pañares and Ingles as proponents, consultants and advisers, the SK project was crystallized with two initial phases that were implemented from August to December 2011. SK involved experts such as Mario Miclat (history), Raul Navarro (music and dance), Patrick Flores (visual arts) and Gonzalo Campoamor II (folk arts, folk beliefs and folk practices). The first phase involved the gathering and review of cultural icons, and the second involved the writing of definitions for the first 800 icons, which are considered priority.

An important resource and basis was PCEP’s Philippine Culture Index project, which identified the important cultural concepts which are believed should be taught throughout the country.

Created in 2002 and started being implemented in March 2003, PCEP is a comprehensive medium-term plan that outlines goals, policies, programs and projects on cultural education through the formal, non-formal and informal systems designed to make cultural education accessible to all sectors of Philippine society, particularly the youth, teachers, artists and cultural workers, officials and employees of the government, members of the media and the civil society. It was formulated after a year-long series of workshops, meetings and consultations in 2001 and 2002. It was first headed by Nestor Jardin with Jeannie Javelosa as vice head.

The Philippine Culture Index project is one of the first activities of PCEP which involved cultural mapping in which “mappers” in different regions of the country submitted their researches on the important cultural items of their regions, and dialogues, workshops and forums among experts. More than 8,000 items from teachers and cultural workers from different regions and provinces of the Philippines were collected and stored in a database. From these and based on other references, experts on Filipino culture selected 2,000 national cultural symbols, which will be disseminated in parts.

The cultural icons include persons and heroes, who are natural-born Filipino citizens, had important traits vital to the country’s progress and will serve as good role models for the Filipino youth, including National Scientists, National Artists, presidents and heroes in Philippine history. Also included are items of heritage, which must be more than 50 years old, native or indigenous, and/or important in national history. They must be products of Filipino imagination and intelligence which we can be proud of. Historical sites, native flora and fauna, inventions and important researches are also included.

Sourced from Agung (July-Sept. 2012)

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