Ernesto M. Pernia, PhD

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary

Culture and Music: Integral Part of Inclusive Development

DOST-NRCP Visayas Policy Forum

Valuing Music Heritage as Learning, Entertaining and Sustainable Resources

SAFAD Theatre, University of San Carlos

Talamban, Cebu City

November 20, 2019


Co-workers in Government;

Distinguished guests and speakers;

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

First, allow me to commend the city of Cebu for being recognized as a UNESCO Creative City for Design just last month. This will further advance creative excellence in the country and help cultivate national pride, advance innovation, and boost our growing creative economy.

Many know Cebu for its metropolitan area, the Queen City of the South, which is one of the most prosperous economic hubs in the country. On the other hand, Cebu is also famous for its culture, especially with its festivities during the Sinulog festival held every January. In fact, this cultural and religious celebration attracted more than 200,000 tourists last year. The craftsmanship of Cebu’s iconic guitars are also celebrated all over the world. For food,  we cannot resist the tempting Cebuano cuisine with Lechon de Cebu and exciting street food choices, and who can’t recognize the widely-exported Cebu mango products?

Importantly too, Cebu is known as a rich wellspring of local music and even Filipino music in general. For example, Ang Pasko ay Sumapit is a popular Tagalog Christmas song but it derived from Kasadya Ning Taknaa, which originated in Cebu. It is for this reason that when I was Chair of the USC Board of Trustees, 2011-2014, I encouraged, along with Board Member Dr. Magdaleno Albarracin, research into the origins of Cebuano music in general in terms of its inspiration and authorship of individual tunes and their respective lyrics.  I’m so glad the effort of the USC Cebuano Studies Center, led by Dr. Hope Sabanpan-Yu, has finally reached fruition.

The innate creativity in Filipinos cannot be denied. It is enjoyed through culinary arts; manifested in various forms such as architecture and allied arts; expressed through dance, literature, dramatic arts; and popularized through film, visual arts, besides music.

Of all the creative outlets available to Filipinos, our love for music is probably the most popular and the one that resonates with most of us. This is evident in the songs that we love to listen to on the radio. This is also noticeable in multiple variations of singing competition on the television.  Likewise, it is palpable in singing contests usually organized during barangay fiestas all over the country.

We love to sing and create music. The Philippines is one of the few countries where you are serenaded everywhere you go. There is a live band when you arrive at the airport, when you are celebrating your birthday in a restaurant, when you are crossing the street, and even when you are on a jeepney. Music is etched in the souls of the Filipinos, and we love sharing it.

In accord with most Filipinos, we in NEDA also share this love of musical arts. We launched the Tunog ng Progreso as part of our campaign to popularize the AmBisyon Natin 2040. The Ambisyon Natin 2040 is the long-term vision of Filipinos, based on nationwide survey research. It was composed using the data points of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates since the 1980s. The music resonated with listeners and stakeholders due to its ingenious composition and the message—Kaya nating lahat umangat.

We in the government see this characteristic of the Filipino people—this passion for the arts—as an opportunity not only to encourage, support, and promote the creative industry in the Philippines, but also to protect and value our cultural heritage and identity as a nation.

This is why the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 has a chapter on promoting Philippine culture and values.  It identifies two key strategies to achieve this, namely (a) valuing our diverse cultures, and (b) advancing pagkamalikhain or creative excellence.

The Philippine government believes that that investing in the promotion of creativity and the arts cannot only benefit our economy, but also foster social cohesion and spur innovation.

To support this, we must create strong linkages between the academe and the creative industry to generate opportunities for arts graduates and workers. There is also a need to establish regional arts academies and create specialized programs on cultural education and arts at the secondary and tertiary levels.

I was delighted to hear about the development of the Maestranza, a creative and cultural hub to be developed in Intramuros in Manila. We also look forward to completion of another one in Bohol through the support of the National Commission on Culture and Arts. These hubs will surely spur the growth of the creative industry in the Philippines.

In the next three years, we also look forward to the establishment of Local Culture and Arts Councils in LGUs and the stronger implementation of the Philippine Cultural Statistics Framework, where music is part of the Performance and Celebration domain.

In fact, LGUs now have a dedicated budget on culture through the Department and Budget Management’s Local Budget Memorandum no. 78, s. 2019. We encourage everyone to take this opportunity to connect with local governments to both promote and preserve local heritage.

At the level of policymaking, the Subcommittee on Culture of the NEDA Board Social Development Committee is continuously working towards the attainment of our culture agenda. We are pushing for the generation and consolidation of needed data to support effective planning and programming.

We are also highlighting the right to access cultural resources of all sectors of society, including indigenous peoples, women, youth and children, PWDs, and Muslim Filipinos.

At the moment, we are conducting a public consultation for the medium-term update of the PDP 2017-2022. I would like to invite everyone to participate and give us your valuable insights or suggestions, especially on Chapter 7: Promoting Philippine Culture and Values. The working document is already uploaded on the NEDA website and shared on Facebook so everyone can easily access it and provide valuable inputs.

We hope that these policy initiatives and strategies steer us towards enhancing our social fabric and laying the groundwork for a high-trust society.

Creativity, no matter how we express it, will always impact our lives. One is social impact, where we can celebrate our diversity and expand our creative industries. Another is a personal or experiential one: nurturing the Filipino soul and identity as we weave our dream to be a nation where everyone enjoys a matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay.

Daghang salamat. Maayong buntag kaninyong tanan.