Under the NCCA’s program for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage

– Preservation and Protection of Intangible Heritage

School of Living Traditions 


The UNESCO declares that there are two approaches to preserve cultural heritage: one is to record it in a tangible form and conserve it in archives; the other is to preserve it in a living form by ensuring its transmission to the next generations.

The establishment of Schools of Living Traditions (SLT) is in response to the second approach. While there are various facets of cultural heritage that can be transmitted to the next generations, this program would like to specifically focus on the transmission of indigenous skills and techniques to the young. It aims to encourage culture specialists/masters to continue with their own work, develop and expand the frontiers of that work, and train younger people to take their place in the future.


Isumbo Sofronio Espanola SLT on Jama Mapun Mat Weaving.


The program for the establishment of SLTs is also anchored on the mandate of NCCA to: (1) conserve and promote the nation’s historical and cultural heritage by encouraging and supporting the study, recognition and preservation of endangered human cultural resources such as weavers, chanters, dancers and other craftsmen, as well as the conservation and development of such artistic, linguistic and occupational skills that are threatened with extinction; and (2) preserve and integrate traditional culture and its various creative expressions as a dynamic part of the national cultural mainstream by helping set up or encourage, monitor and subsidize companion systems at the regional, provincial and local levels, intended to develop traditional cultures such as arts/crafts centers, preferably in community settings apart from the usual museum settings, where exponents of living arts and crafts can practice and teach their art and enrich contemporary designs.

Program description and objectives

The SLT program of the SCCTA generally aims to provide a venue where a culture specialist/master, who embodies the skills and techniques of a particular traditional art form, imparts to a group of interested youth the skills and techniques of such form. Specifically, the program aims to identify aspects/components of traditional culture and art considered to be important to a cultural community and have to be transferred to the young so that these aspects can be perpetuated.

Definition of terms

School of Living Traditions – One where a living master/culture bearer or culture specialist imparts to a group of young people from the same ethno-linguistic community the skills and techniques of doing a traditional art or craft. The mode of teaching is usually non-formal, oral and with practical demonstrations. The site maybe the house of the living master, a community social hall, or a center constructed for the purpose.

Culture bearer/master/specialist – This refers to the individual who is recognized to possess the skills and techniques in doing a particular traditional art or craft and designated to be a teacher in the SLT. He shall be responsible in teaching his craft to a group of learners and shall ensure that his/her students learn the craft within the agreed period. A monthly allowance shall be paid for the services of the master until such time that his/her service is terminated.

Project Coordinator – The Project Coordinator shall see to it that the NCCA guidelines are considered in the implementation of the project and that the grant is judiciously administered. He must ensure that the cultural master/bearer/specialist has been properly identified and learning in the center is properly carried out. A monthly allowance shall be paid to the Project Coordinator until such time that his/her service is terminated.

The project coordinator must also live close to the SLT site and must have a thorough understanding of the objectives of the SLT program. He/she must submit to the NCCA a monthly report on the activities done in the center.

1. 0 Guidelines in establishing an SLT

1.1 Identify the master/specialist of a traditional craft as well as the young people who are interested in learning the craft. The NCCA will provide honorarium for the master and incentives for the students, such as food, transportation and materials needed for the training. It should be understood, however, that the support for the master is to recognize him for his primacy and leadership in his field and in elevating further his stature rather than because he is a salaried government employee.

1.2 The SLT may be held in a place/venue most convenient to the students and masters. It may be community-based and informal in nature. The activities may be part of the daily life of the master and must, therefore, not interrupt his regular schedule except to facilitate the teaching-learning process. Participation of students is voluntary, although, they have to pass a rigid screening to be done by the master and the project coordinator.

1.3 A holistic training shall be observed. This means the training shall not only focus on the practical aspect but also on the philosophical aspect to ensure that everyone involved in the program understands its objectives. Some sessions may be used to inculcate cultural awareness and the need to preserve and promote one’s cultural heritage.

1.4 It shall be emphasized that the major concern of the program is to teach the really pure form of traditional arts; commercial production may be pursued by the participants later but is not the concern of the program.

1.5 To ensure viability, the proponent must be able to tap other sources of funds and must have the support and commitment of existing local institutions, such as tribal/community organizations, schools, LGU, NGO or church organizations, depending on what is appropriate. Their concurrence and support shall be expressed in a resolution and a MOA with the NCCA shall then be executed. One of the highly valued indicators of the SLT’s success is its ability to continue even without NCCA’s financial assistance.

1.6 If possible, a formal opening of the SLT should be held where NCCA officers are invited. The occasion may be used to explain further the objectives of the project and the policies of the NCCA.

1.7 The proponent shall ensure that the presence of the SLT in the area is widely disseminated both in the municipal and provincial levels. Signboards/streamers to indicate its location and the sponsorship of the NCCA and other major organizations should be posted in conspicuous places of the community.

1.8 The grant shall be used to cover the cost of the following items: (a) honorarium of masters, project coordinator and monitor (b) materials and supplies and © students’ allowance. The proponent must provide counterpart funding to ensure continuity and viability of the project.

2.0 Monitoring and Evaluation

2.1 The NCCA for its part shall assign persons to periodically evaluate the project in the field. The monitor could be a Project Development Officer, a Committee member or a locally-based individual who may be hired for such purpose.

2.2 The Local Coordinator shall submit a monthly report to the NCCA Monitoring Division consisting of (a) list of students and their activities (b) financial expenses for the month and (3) accomplishment of the project. If the Coordinator is a Committee member, he shall render a monthly report to the Committee that approved the project.

2.3 Support for the continuation of NCCA assistance shall depend on the evaluation and recommendation of the SLT evaluating team. The NCCA reserves the right to terminate the project if the NCCA deems it necessary. In case of failure to do his/her functions properly, the services of the cultural master/specialist, Monitoring Officer, Project Coordinator and other persons hired in the project may be terminated or replaced according to the recommendations of the NCCA.

3.0 Liquidation of Grant

3.1 Liquidation of grant shall be according to the approved Specialized Liquidation Procedure approved by COA in year 2000.

3.2 In case a Realignment of Line Item-Budget is necessary, the approval of the Executive Director shall be sought by the Project Coordinator.

For inquiries on the Schools of Living Traditions, write or call
National Commission for Culture and the Arts
#633 General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila
Tel. No. 527-2192 local 602 Fax No. 527-2194
E-mail info@ncca.gov.ph

Schools of Living Traditions