Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda has pushed for local government units’ increased participation and involvement in preserving Filipino heritage through cultural mapping.

Legarda, the chairperson of the Committee on Culture and the Arts, stressed the significance of preserving Philippine culture and giving meaning to what being a Filipino means as she presided over a committee hearing on various cultural measures on Tuesday.

“I believe that culture is the narrative that binds us as a nation, and it is something we owe to our ancestors and heroes who built the Philippines as it is today. It is also important to protect our way of living and our heritage that we will also pass on to our children and our children’s children,” she said.

Senate Bill No. 622, An Act Amending Republic Act No. 10066, or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, filed by Legarda on July 14, 2022, seeks to mandate the LGUs to conduct a comprehensive cultural mapping of their areas of jurisdiction.

“It has been more than a decade since we passed RA 10066. We are now revisiting this law with the integration of cultural mapping at all levels of our government. It would be good to have a cultural mapping workshop, and then all the results, we can have them in a compendium,” Legarda stated.

She also noted that there is a need to have definitive categories and inventories of the Philippines’ cultural assets.

According to the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Chairperson Victorino Manalo, 98 LGUs have already submitted their cultural mapping reports, while 177 are currently in progress.

“We will need to take this to a higher level and enhance the number of LGUs that are involved in cultural mapping,” he said.

Antique, Legarda’s home province, recently completed its cultural mapping. It was done through Legarda’s initiatives, in partnership with the NCCA, the University of the Philippines (UP) in Visayas, the Department of Education (DepEd), culture and history experts, and the Antique provincial government.

The 21-volume set of its mapping books was launched on November 25, 2022.

Legarda also seeks to establish the Linangan ng Likhang-Bayan (Institute for Living Traditions) through SBN 624. The measure aims to ensure the viability of the arts and crafts in many cultural communities, especially practices that are in danger of extinction.

SBN  242, or the Cultural Education Program Act, on the other hand, seeks to develop, integrate, and institutionalize cultural education across the country’s educational system.

Under the measure, the NCCA shall collaborate with the DepEd, Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skill Development Authority (TESDA) in formulating and implementing plans and programs to integrate and mainstream Philippine arts and culture in the national education system. “Today, we seek to adjust and adapt to the challenges of the modern times and respond to the needs of our evolving identity. We believe that these steps are crucial in our goal of harmonizing our diverse identities and building a nation that is rich and proud,” said Legarda.