HISTORIAN Filomeno Bautista wrote about the time when Cagayan de Misamis (now Cagayan de Oro) experienced the golden age of Visayan Literature and the Arts during the administration of the Spanish military governor, Lt. Col. Leopoldo Roldan from 1877 to 1883. Roldan was considered the numero uno patron of the local artists.

Among the popular poets of the period was Justiniano Abellanosa who was known as Capitan Miano. Bautista, who was the nephew of the poet wrote down this short Visayan poem in the Bautista Manuscript:

"Si Dudang dili mausik;

Kay ingon sa labor sa sisik,

Nga paliton sa Insik."

Below is Bautista's English translation of the poem:

"In my estimation,

Dudang will not be wasted

For she, like the tortoise shells,

To the Chinese is easy to sell."

The historian said that this poem was prophetic for Dudang later married a Chinese and from her descended the Abrio family of Cagayan.

Today, Cagayan de Oro is fortunate that our newly elected congressmen, Rufus B. Rodriguez and Benjamin A. Benaldo, come from two old and respected families of the City. And whats more, the mother of Rep. Rodriguez, the late Martha Bautista - Rodriguez, belonged to the Bautista - Abellanosa Clans. She is the niece of historian Filomeno Bautista and both are closely related to the poet Capitan Miano. While the mother of Rep. Benaldo, Almera Abrio- Benaldo comes from the line of Dudang! Now that is really something! But I will not end here.

Come July 26, 2010, Congress will convene under our new President, Benigno Aquino III. By that time and up to the end of this year, I know that our two Congressmen will be busy attending to legislative matters and their priority programs that will benefit the constituency of districts I and II. These are good programs on education, youth, food for the poor, medicines and for the barangays. However, I know that I know that I know that there will be no program nor support earmarked from their respective pork barrels for local cultural heritage projects and activities. Tragic! So I would like to call your attention to this abject lack of attention and interest towards the work of promoting the knowledge and appreciation of our heritage.

What is heritage and why is it important to us? Heritage is simply defined as anything of value from the past that provides identity to the present and gives inspiration to our future. It provides us with public memory that allows us to learn from our collective past which in turn, can lead us to a better tomorrow. It consists of our history, culture and the arts and is also termed as "cultural heritage."

I like what Philippine Star columnist, Butch Dalisay (May 31, 2010) wrote about arts and culture - that culture defines us as a national community with shared values and visions, albeit with diverse ideas and expressions. While the arts embody those ideas and enable those expressions. Culture is really more descriptive than prescriptive - it's who and what we are at this very moment.

Let me add that HOW our cultural heritage is preserved by those in power, meaning our government leaders, affects our sense of self- worth as Filipinos, our views of our place in our community and nation and even our future. Dalisay clearly summed this up when he wrote that, "If you want us to act as Filipinos, you're going to have to make us think and feel like Filipinos." That is what we lack, our sense of being Filipinos.

I observed that so many of us are well educated but are not cultured. Why so? Because we do not know or fully appreciate our being Filipinos. Blame it on the fact that for decades, there are no regular, viable and dynamic cultural policies and programs of our government. Hence, our culture has become corrupted, bastardized and politicized. Is it any wonder why many of us have turned to the West and try to copy many aspects of their cultures?

But all is not lost! Gentlemen, your help is most welcome at the Cagayan de Oro Heritage Council (formerly the Cagayan de Oro Historical and Cultural Commission). It is the only cultural agency in the City that has consistently maintained a track record in the work of preserving, conserving and promoting our cultural heritage. As member of the Heritage Council for 12 years, I have learned that this kind of work requires lots of research in order to come up with a factual, positive, vigorous and proactive programs.

These programs need a strong support from individuals like you who are not only the Representatives of our City but true blue Kagay-anons! However, please know that heritage work does not carry with it any political color or overtone, least it be tainted with corruption and loses its credence.

Finally, it is my hope and prayer that both of you will do a Gov. Roldan by supporting our local artists and their works. For who knows, you will be the ones to usher in another golden era of culture and the arts in Cagayan de Oro in the near future?