Privilege Speech
October 17, 2012

Senator Loren Legarda's Privilege Speech
Hibla Pavilion of Textiles and Weaves of the Philippines
17 October 2012, Senate Session Hall

Our culture is our story as a nation. It is the narrative that binds Filipinos, regardless of ethnicity, social class, or educational background, into a common chronicle of tradition, hardship, and triumph.

As we celebrate the Indigenous People's Month and confront the urgency to preserve and propagate the wealth of Filipino traditional knowledge and artistry, we launched this morning, with the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the "Hibla Pavilion of Textiles and Weaves of the Philippines". This is an exhibition aimed at showcasing our rich and colorful heritage through the Schools of Living Traditions, a program I supported to ensure that indigenous techniques on textile-weaving, basket-making, beadwork and embroidery are passed on to the next generation. For these creative endeavors reveal anecdotes of the individual soul, of the community, and of the saga of the Filipino people.

Mr. President, Based on records of the NCCA, there are currently 439 Schools of Living Traditions across the country. However, only 39 remain active.

We have continuously strived to keep our heritage alive and be brought to the limelight. We had set-up several cultural exhibits here at the Senate to showcase the exceptional skills and world-class products of our IPs. We successfully organized regional assemblies and the First National Indigenous Cultural Summit that served as avenues for dialogue of IPs with local and national policy-makers as well as international institutions. In May, we opened the country's first permanent textile galleries called the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino: The Artistry of Philippine Textiles at the National Museum in order to celebrate indigenous artistry and revitalize our weaving traditions, and organized the Lecture Series on Philippine Traditional Textiles and Indigenous Knowledge, which enriched citizens' knowledge on tropical fabrics and the culture of weaving, and explored the local technology, adaptation and innovations to perform and renew weaving customs.

Today, as we have launched the Hibla Pavilion, we hope to solve one of the greatest threats to our indigenous artistry - extinction brought about by apathy.

It is time to celebrate the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the Filipino people, reflected in the traditional weaving of the Ivatan, Gaddang, Hanunuo Mangyan, Subanen, Ata Talaingod, and B'laan, the Antique bariw mat weaving, the Iraya Mangyan nito basketry, the Panay Bukidnon panubok embroidery, and the Ekam Maguindanao mat weaving, among countless creative expressions of our indigenous peoples.

We are grateful to the Schools of Living Traditions and the weaving centers who shared their talent and culture by participating in the exhibition--Rowilda's Handloom Weaving Center from Vigan, Ilocos Sur; Federation of Banaue Women's Organization from Banaue, Ifugao; Nagbacalan Loom Weavers Cooperative from Paoay, Ilocos Norte; Mangyan Heritage Center from Calapan, Oriental Mindoro; Delza Native Product from Basey, Samar; La Herminia Piña Weaving from Kalibo, Aklan; Antique Development Foundation from San Jose, Antique; and the Bagtason Loomweavers' Association from Bugasong, Antique.

We hope that through the HIBLA initiative, we have brought our cultural communities at the center stage, closer to the global arena where their weaving traditions will be appreciated in a different light.

Mr. President, Let us ensure that our future generations would still be able to witness these cultural treasures unfold before their very eyes.

It is about time that we put premium on Filipino artisanship and uphold the traditions that give meaning to our history and identity. Let us open doors of opportunities for weaving communities and Schools of Living Traditions and generate greater patronage for creative industries of our indigenous peoples. The mission of protecting our cultural heritage is a long walk. But it is a road we must take.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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