Iligan goes indigenous in celebrating National Arts Month

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews) – This city is celebrating the National Arts Month by pushing indigenous arts more than popular arts and those from other countries.

“We need to uphold our beliefs and values to promote our indigenous arts and our homegrown artists to know our distinct identities as Iliganons,” said city councilor Michelle E. Sweet, chair of the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s committee on history, culture and arts.

The late President Corazon Aquino signed Presidential Proclamation No. 683 in 1991 declaring February as National Arts Month to show appreciation to the country’s local artists and become a source of inspiration for the Filipino people, as well as instill a sense of patriotism in the younger generation.

The celebration includes live performances by Iligan-based cultural groups as well as Subanen, Manobo and Maranao performers. There is also an educational forum, photo contest and exhibit, painting exhibit, dance and musical contests and other activities based on the theme “Arte, Duyog sa Kinaiyahan, Kalinaw ug Kalamboan” (Arts, in tune with Nature, Peace and Development).

Abner Cagalawan, of Agus Band and one of the organizers, explained that the Iligan celebration is aimed at “re-popularizing the usage of various tribal or indigenous musical instruments along with the popular western instruments.”

Prof. Saturnina Rodil, a peace advocate, said in a forum on Wednesday that it is time for Iliganons to reflect on their values – like, why preferring ballet over indigenous dances, giving more value on Picasso instead of local painters. She urged Iliganons to embrace the local ballads, the works of Cebuano writers, and appreciate indigenous sculptures, the sarimanok and okir.

“We need to be sensitive of our culture and our sense of community even in architecture and in construction of buildings,” Rodil said, urging the audience to support local cultural dancers and singers.

Professor Frank Englis, conductor and music artist who manages the Octava Choral Society, lamented that people love to hear us sing and play, but do not want to support his choral group.

“The city government should help revive and preserve our traditions and culture thru arts because it’s only through this that we can enrich our tradition and customs,” he said.

Englis lauded the national government for helping revive the rondalla which will have its third national contest in Tagum City soon.

Agnes C. Maingat, officer-in-charge of the City Tourism Office, appreciated that there is a committee in the city council that focuses on culture and arts but stressed that “cultural tourism can only be possible from a well-developed cultural community which has preserved its cultural heritage. If this is done, only then can we encourage people to come and visit Iligan.”

Prof. Steven Patrick Fernandez, head of the Integrated Performing Arts Group (IPAG), said that to answer the needs of artists, the academe should establish an institute for the arts “where we can nurture for the next generations our religious beliefs, social practices, and arts.”

Sweet also looked into legislating local policies that will support the plans of all artists here and hone their expertise. She said she will encourage the participation of the private sector to make celebrations on arts more vibrant. (Violeta M. Gloria / MindaNews)