Of Cultural Heritage and Preservation

“…the kulintang may find itself reduced to a mere relic in a museum exhibit,
its melody forever lost to future generations.”

February is the National Arts Month, where regions around the country showcase their traditional arts and crafts as well as artistic works by modern local artists. It is a month of vibrant color for these places, an indication that they are well-aware and value their art, artists, and cultural heritage.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), as a conglomerate of provinces with diverse cultures and ethnic identities, is indeed rich in cultural arts and traditions. Nowhere else in the country can one find the malong a landap of the Meranaws, the inaul of the Maguindanaons, the pis siyabit of the Tausugs or the seputangan of the Yakan. Having been largely unconquered by non-Muslim forces, the region can assert itself in being a home to cultures untouched.

But it is all quickly disappearing.

Globalization, foreign influences, and even the way people perceive culture have changed the cultural heritage landscape of the area. Younger generations, with their penchant for K-pop, K-drama, and social media do not think much of learning their cultural arts and crafts, for to them, these are out of touch with what they are now. The older artisans, who have not been able to pass on their craft to the latter, have stopped or have already died, taking what they know with them to the grave. Meanwhile, the entire community risks losing its identity. While there are indeed efforts on the local and larger scale to help curb the tragic loss, still there is a long way to go.

Unless the community sees the need to preserve its artistic and artisanal heritage, no effort on the part of even the government will help conserve its cultural heritage. It takes a village, a town, a city, a people to step up and keep its arts and culture alive in the face of so much fast-paced change. Unless the ordinary citizen makes a conscious effort, the kulintang may find itself reduced to a mere relic in a museum exhibit, its melody forever lost to future generations.


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