IN EVERY city, municipality and province, there are sectors like education, business, tourism, culture and the arts that require not only the intervention of politicians in terms of funding allotment but also in the areas of planning, promotion and execution of specific development programs for these sectors.

It is true that there are sectoral consultations and forums conducted by elected officials to draw out suggestions and recommendations but results of these are again deliberated upon by the elected council members and the usual alibi when no suggested programs were approved is, “it passed the first reading but it failed to get the nod of the council en-banc”. For me, these concerns require true representatives who can speak out and defend the issues and concerns of the community particularly the mentioned sectors.

Recently, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued Memorandum Circular 2017-133 which is a revision of Memorandum Circular No. 2002-81 on the Creation of Local Culture and Arts Councils. This follows the selection of Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representatives (IPMR) for IP areas as instructed in Administrative Order No. 001, Series of 2009 of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples or NCIP. The DILG posted the circular on their website last October 2, 2017 the revised DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2002-81 creating local culture and arts councils.

Also in line with the DILG special provisions under RA 10924, the establishment of local arts and culture councils is envisioned to strengthen LGUs as a cultural institution which is also consistent with the National Cultural Heritage Act.

With the thrust of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and the implementation of the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) initiated the revision of MC 2002-81 in order to incorporate the need for an expanded composition and functions of the Local Culture and Arts Council. Accordingly, the Legislative Agenda to promote Philippine Culture and Values of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 highlights the establishment of Local Culture and Arts Councils (LCACs). The rationale according to NCCA is to establish offices for culture and the arts in the Local Government Units (LGUs), with a mandate to protect and promote local cultural heritage and arts.

Also consistent with the purpose mentioned in the act is the protection, preservation and promotion of cultural heritage and the ethnicity of local communities. As such, all provinces, cities and municipalities are to legislate for the establishment of a Local Culture and Arts Council that implements related projects and strengthen existing ones.

Said provision also provides that the NCCA in cooperation with various agencies is mandated to undertake a systematic collection of statistical and other data which reflects the state of cultural conditions in the country that are essential in formulating cultural policies. The Cordillera News Agency research on “Luzon Cultural Sensitivity Manual on Covering Indigenous Peoples for Journalists, Social Media Bloggers and Educators” I believe is one resource that can be presented in the crafting of said cultural policies.

We therefore look forward to the formulation and convening of said Local Culture and Arts Council which shall be formed with the Local Chief Executive as the Chair with members from the Sanguniang Committee on Culture and the Arts, Local Cultural Officer, Planning and Development Officer, Local Budget Officer and Local Tourism Officer. Also identified from the government line agencies as part of the arts council are representatives from the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Philippine Information Agency. From the civil society, representatives from the local tourism council, historical & heritage society, museums, artists groups, business & professional sector, academe, youth, indigenous peoples groups and a representative from NCCA.

The functions of said arts council is to prepare an annual plan on culture, arts cultural heritage consonant with the Philippine Development Plan for Culture and the Arts to be integrated in the local development plan and considered in the annual appropriation ordinances. The said council shall also formulate programs and recommendations to develop and sustain local cultural and artistic talents, cultural industries, traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, and their processes. This likewise include the conduct od cultural events such as festivals, competition, lectures, seminars and symposia.

In support to the National Cultural Heritage Act, the arts council can therefore initiate moves to ensure the protection and preservation of local cultural and historical heritage, move for the declaration of heritage zones and establish a local registry of cultural property. With all these government directives and enactments, we look forward to the re-establishment and strengthening of Baguio and its neighboring BLIST towns as the country’s Mecca for Culture and the Arts with all the support from stakeholders and the general populace. For comments, please write to the author at: