Press Release
December 4, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara underscored the importance of promoting and reinforcing the country's cultural heritage in time for Asia's emergence as the center of global economic and political activity.

In yesterday's Jose Rizal 150th Anniversary Conference on Nation and Culture organized by National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose, Angara cited the United Nations projection showing that the Philippines will hit a demographic window by 2015--a limited period where the country's working population will be at its highest proportion, lending massive potential for economic growth.

"How will any of these opportunities be maximized if our sense of identity is weak, if we continue to be alienated from our heritage and feel ashamed of our culture?" said the veteran lawmaker. "We will end up seeing the best of our countrymen lend their talents to other countries--and wasting this valuable potential for our nation and economy."

According to Angara, one of the most often overlooked factors in shaping Filipino consciousness is the promotion of arts and culture. He cited the 1987 Constitution, which mandates the State to give priority to arts and culture to "foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote total human liberation and development".

"Jose Rizal epitomized this ideal," explained Angara. "He promoted a peaceful and enlightened revolution with education as its engine. He sought to give Filipinos proper representation, to give them a voice in the courts, in the church, and in the arts."

The conference, organized by Jose and moderated by Angara, was attended by the country's leading philanthropists, educators, policymakers, writers and artists, including House Speaker Felicano Belmonte, DepEd Sec. Armin Luistro, Former Senators Leticia Ramos-Shahani and Francisco Tatad, National Artists Abdul Imao, Benedicto "BenCab" Cabrera and Napoleon Abueva. Among the distinguished speakers were Gilbert C. Teodoro, Ramon Sunico, Charlson Ong, Lourd de Veyra, Lito Zulueta, Jose Wendell Capili, Rody Vera and Fr. Jose Arcilla.

The discussions and the recommendations resulting from the event will be published in a book that will be distributed to government and private institutions.

Angara authored some of the country's landmark legislations on culture, including the laws creating the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the National Museum in the Eighth and Tenth Congresses respectively.

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