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UPV Int’l Conference on Intangible Heritage gathers culture bearers and scholars

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Pagtib-ong – the UPV International Conference on intangible heritage successfully brought together scholars, artists, cultural bearers and cultural workers from nine countries. The event which showcased at least 50 scholarly presentations, performances and exhibits was held at Grand Xing Imperial Hotel, Iloilo City on October 25-26, 2018.

Keynote Speaker for the event was Ms. Lila Ramos-Shahani, Secretary General of the Philippine National Commission or UNESCO who spoke on UNESCO’s Directions for Safeguarding ICH in the Philippines. In her message, she emphasized UNESCO's definition of ICH as “traditional, contemporary and living at the same time. It does not only compose those ethnic ritual traditions we have inherited from previous generations, but also contemporary rural urban practices that still exist and are being practiced by various ethnolinguistic groups today.”

Underscoring the importance of the conference and the cultural bearers noting the particular components of intangible cultural heritage “elements,” and saying that only bearers of these elements can decide whether a given expression or practice is heritage. “This conference is therefore deeply important because, as we continue to come together and discuss the status of ICH, we also subtly shape and form Philippine culture itself.”

Atty. Anna Katarina B. Rodriguez, representing the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Chair, Dr. Virgilio Almario, discussed on the importance of ICH especially of the folk epics to be taught to the youth as part of the Mother Tongue curriculum as it seeks to build a true national Filipino identity. “The nation’s intangible cultural heritage can be observed and studied from various unique practices, traditions, crafts, dances, rites. And equally important is training our sights on our oral or folk literature, especially the epics. Since Magellan stepped into our shores and brought the embracing arm of Western colonialism, our existence as a people, our manners of life, our customs and traditions – have never been visited by scholars of the conquista, the friars mainly, which is to be expected because they would only study “us” only with the in view of conquering us… thus, we have of our pre-Hispanic is all in the unwritten or oral tradition especially of the pagan or Non-Christian ethnic groups. Our folk epics are in fact the only source of our unwritten history…”

UP Vice President Jose Dalisay, Jr., in his message,  reaffirmed the challenges in the work of cultural researchers and cultural workers, “This conference is a welcome and warm reminder that you are not alone, that you all belong to a community of cultural activists who understand, almost intuitively, what many others choose to ignore. Studies like yours go into the nerves and the bones—indeed, the DNA— of our cultures, of what holds us together as peoples deep beneath the skin. The intangible heritage you are retrieving and preserving is an invaluable resource that we can all draw upon in our respective countries and communities.”

“No one else can do this but universities like UP and UPV, and their counterparts around the region, and scholars and cultural workers like you who believe fervently in needs other than the physical and the economics, those immediately tangible and measurable bottomline concerns that governments and administrations typically prefer to support.”

Chancellor Ricardo P. Babaran underlines UPVs commitment to ICH and thus supported publications of Panay Epics and gave space in publishing the works of the Panay’s Indigenous Peoples in UPV Journal, “We at the UP Visayas are exceptionally proud in putting to realization the monumental publication of the epics of Panay which the University of the Philippines Press is currently publishing. The epics of 13 series of titles are printed with translations in Contemporary Kinaray-a, Filipino, and English. We are now coming out with the 8th publication entitled “Humadapnon sa Tarangban” (magical cave) which is coming out anytime soon. Also, the Philippine Journal of Humanities and the Social Sciences is coming out today with a special online issue of eight articles from the papers presented in the 2017 Pagtib-ong. Half of these journal articles are written by the Indigenous People’s – an Aeta or Ati, A Halawodnon, and two Pan-ayanons who wrote about their intangible heritage specifically on their oral literatures and their lifeways. The publication of these articles and narratives in the University’s journal seal our commitment to the propagation and preservation of the intangible heritage of the country. “

The event organized by UP Visayas was supported by the Commission on Higher Education, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Association of Asian Nations and the Department of Tourism Region VI.

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