The Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) announced on September 23 the expansion of its art thrust to educating people on cultural heritage.

Aside from the implementation of its recognition program for visual artists, through the 33-year old Metrobank Art & Design Excellence (MADE), MBFI launched its newest advocacy on the sustaining and preserving our cultural heritage—Cultural Heritage & Education Program (CHEP). In partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), an inaugural lecture was held at the Le Pavillon in Pasay City to kick-off the different activities lined up.

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Both tangible and intangible cultural heritage are covered by the program. The program follows the IDEA framework—Inspiration, Development of Skills, Exposure, and Applications. Its primary thrust is on built environment and built heritage, with secondary concentrations on selected fine arts and intangible cultural heritage. Supported activities under CHEP include lectures, workshops, conferences, talks and grant-giving.

“When we strip away everything and just focus on our country as it is, we are left with one thing: our heritage. It can never be taken away from us, because our heritage is us,” MBFI president Aniceto Sobrepeña said in his speech.

“Through workshops and lectures, CHEP aims to enhance the capacity of the practitioners already working for heritage management and conservation. At the same time, we hope to provide opportunities for the next generation of students and heritage enthusiasts to gain first-hand insight and experiences relating to different heritage practices.”

Leading the line-up of speakers during the Inaugural Lecture was National Commission for Culture and the Arts executive director Rico S. Pableo, Jr., who talked about heritage in everyday life.

For her part, Escuella Taller de Filipinas executive director Ar. Carmen Bettina Bulaong discussed current trends and practices in heritage preservation. 1/0 Design Collective principal designer Ar. Angelo Ray Serrano highlighted the potential of Escolta as a creative hub for this generation’s artists. University of Santo Tomas Graduate School Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics head Prof. Eric Zerrudo talked about the importance of safeguarding Philippine built heritage. Closing the lecture was Manila Metropolitan Theatre (MET) Rehabilitation and Conservation project director Dr. Gerard Rey Lico, who enjoined his audience to help restore MET in the urban imagination and collective memory.

A total of 300 participants attended the lecture, most of whom were students and teachers from academic institutions. Also present were representatives of cultural agencies, professional organizations, and heritage institutions.