The Sagisag Kultura (SK) ng Filipinas aims to gather, select and promote the cultural icons of the country, creating a database and registry of these symbols of Philippine culture. Under the Philippine Cultural Education Program (PCEP), this is a cultural education project of the NCCA, through its Subcommission on Cultural Dissemination (SCD) headed by Alice A. Pañares and PCEP Task Force headed by Elmar Ingles, in cooperation with the Filipinas Institute of Translation (FIT) and Wika ng Kultura at Agham (WIKA).
SK was initiated by National Artist for literature Virgilio S. Almario through a letter to NCCA chairman Felipe M. de Leon, Jr. titled “Mungkahing Focus ng Cultural Education Mulang 2011,” in which Almario emphasized the important involvement of the NCCA in the ongoing changes in national education with the K12 program. He said that it would be an opportune time for the NCCA to advance its two advocacies of a culture-based education and Filipino as the language of instruction with the revisions in curriculum, preparation of teaching guides and model lesson plans and teacher training. These can be proposed to the Department of Education (DepEd). The proposal was approved in a general meeting of NCCA commissioners on July 14, 2011, with funding provided through the National Committee on Language and Translation (NCLT) and the SCD through its PCEP. With Almario, Pañares and Ingles as proponents, consultants and advisers, the SK project was crystallized with two initial phases that were implemented from August to December 2011.
SK involved experts such as Mario Miclat (history), Raul Navarro (music and dance), Patrick Flores (visual arts) and Gonzalo Campoamor II (folk arts, folk beliefs and folk practices). The first phase involved the gathering and review of cultural icons, and the second involved the writing of definitions for the first 800 icons, which are considered priority.
An important resource and basis was PCEP’s Philippine Culture Index project, which identified the important cultural concepts which are believed should be taught throughout the country. Created in 2002 and started being implemented in March 2003, PCEP is a comprehensive medium-term plan that outlines goals, policies, programs and projects on cultural education through the formal, non-formal and informal systems designed to make cultural education accessible to all sectors of Philippine society, particularly the youth, teachers, artists and cultural workers, officials and employees of the government, members of the media and the civil society. It was formulated after a yearlong series of workshops, meetings and consultations in 2001 and 2002. It was first headed by Nestor Jardin with Jeannie Javelosa as vice head.
The Philippine Culture Index project is one of the first activities of PCEP which involved cultural mapping in which “mappers” in different regions of the country submitted their researches on the important cultural items of their regions, and dialogues, workshops and forums among experts. More than 8,000 items from teachers and cultural workers from different regions and provinces of the Philippines were collected and stored in a database. From these and based on other references, experts on Filipino culture selected 2,000 national cultural symbols, which will be disseminated in parts.
The cultural icons include persons and heroes, who are natural-born Filipino citizens, had important traits vital to the country’s progress and will serve as good role models for the Filipino youth, including National Scientists, National Artists, presidents and heroes in Philippine history. Also included are items of heritage, which must be more than 50 years old, native or indigenous, and/or important in national history. They must be products of Filipino imagination and intelligence which we can be proud of. Historical sites, native flora and fauna, inventions and important researches are also included.
The 800 priority cultural icons were reviewed and finalized by experts in a workshop at the Summit Ridge in Tagaytay City, Cavite, from September 10 to 12, 2011, where the Essential Knowledge on Philippine Arts, Culture and Heritage for the Basic Education Curriculum (EKPACHBEC) was also reviewed. From the 800 cultural icons written by FIT, 160 were chosen for the Eksibit ng 160 Pambansang Sagisag Kultura (Cultural Icons) Para sa Batayang Edukasyong K to 12, which started in March 2012 and is currently being toured around the country by the Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA). The SK exhibit was mounted at the Department of Education in Pasig City from March 19 to 30, 2012, and at the House of Representatives in Quezon City from May 21 to 24, 2012. It began touring the country at the Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City from May 14 to 17, 2012. It then moved to the main library of the University of the Philippines Baguio on July 31 to August 3, 2012, with the help of UP Baguio Chancellor Dr. Raymundo D. Ravillos; dean of the College of Arts and Communication Dr. Anna Christie V. Torres; and UPB faculty and NCLT member Purificacion Delima. Before the opening of the exhibit, a consultation with teachers and students were held at the Sarmiento Hall with NCLT head Dr. Mario Miclat, National Artist Virgilio Almario, NCLT members Dr. Jen Asenjo and Delima, SCD and National Committee on Cultural Education (NCCED) head Dr. Alice Pañares and National Committee on Communication head Dr. Cecil Dy. From August 24 to 31, 2012, the SK exhibit was held at the Event Center of SM City Baliwag in Baliwag, Bulacan, where the opening was attended by Andrew Cristobal, mall manager of SM City Baliwag; Rodora Tolentino, assistant mall manager; Eric Tagle, chief of staff and representative of Baliwag mayor Sonia Estrella; Dr. Alice Pañares; and Dr. Mario Miclat. The opening program featured singers Lara Lavinia Bayani and Rhonalyn Parulan; and Akapin Angklung Band, made up of deaf students of City of Malolos Integrated School who play bamboo instruments.
From September 27 to October 19, the Museo De La Salle of De La Salle University in Dasmariñas, Cavite, hosts the exhibit. The opening was graced by Cesar EA Virata, president of the Cavite Historical Society; Almario; and Dr. Christian George C. Francisco, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. The SK exhibit is planned to be brought to the University of the Philippines in the Visayas in Iloilo City on the last week of November 2012; San Jose Central Elementary School in San Jose, Partido, Camarines Sur, from November 6 to 16, 2012; Kalibo Pilot Elementary School in Kalibo, Aklan, from November 27 to December 7, 2012; Isabela State University in Cauayan, Isabela, from December 11 to 21, 2012; Cabanchan Elementary School in Davao City from January 8 to 18, 2013; Rizal National High School from January 29 to February 8, 2013; and Tambo Elementary School from February 19 to March 1, 2013.