“A nation without a memory is a nation without a soul”, said National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) Regular Member of Humanities Division, Dr. Renato B. Lucas, during Council’s Expert Class Episode 12 titled, Filipino Music Performance Traditions, are they a fading Cultural Memory?, on December 2, 2021, via zoom.
Lucas underscored music, culture, and heritage through the years. According to him, on this day of age, the meaning of progress has been diluted, and nation’s memory can be put aside, and in the worst of the scenarios, forgotten,
Meanwhile, Dr. Lucas used the three Rs which are Recalling, Retrieving, and Reinvigorating to dissect the Philippine music and tradition.
Dr. Lucas said that ‘music of the present is just the tip of the iceberg of layers of our living traditions.’ With this, Lucas used the word ‘tradition’ in his lecture in a generic sense rather than in a musicological sense, through performances of Filipino music artists over the ages of music in the formal setting.
He added that it is very easy to be buried with all the music available with the avalanche of music since the advent of the digital age. According to him, the pandemic lockdown may decimate live performances.
Dr. Lucas also presented an initial project titled, Hearing Loss: echoing our fading Cultural Memory, which aims to amplify people’s loss of hearing in terms of music and culture. He proposed a business model called VMOS which consist of Vision, Mission, Objective, and Strategies. According to him, the vision of this model is Building a Museum of the Imagination of the Filipino, while the mission is Humanism (Science of the Human Spirit). The project also intends to have a repository of ever-dynamic performance in the history. In addition, the goal of the project is to reawaken cultural literacy especially the incoming Digitized post-pandemic new reality.
With the strategy of the VMOS Model which includes building and rebuilding, Dr. Lucas emphasized the role of NRCP through the “Musika Pilipino Project”, with its goal to gather different memories such as intangibles and Filipino Music Performances.
Dr. Lucas stressed that heritage preservation should not be an end in itself but rather a means of not just for cultural enrichment but for economic benefit as well.
Dr. Lucas highlighted that music or performance traditions need nurturing with a support system from all sectors, for sustainability. He said that there were countless efforts at legislation for this.
“Some of the efforts are Analog/Digital Audio collections of Ayala Museum, Lopez Museum, Film Development Council, Cultural Center of the Philippines, similar institutions, and countless performing groups”, he said.
Aside from these, there was also an effort to provide a virtual presence in the digital space, especially with the pandemic and the much-anticipated post-pandemic implication.
“Orchestrating all these efforts must be the key” said Dr. Lucas.
Museum not ‘Museumize’
According to Dr. Lucas, museums are not just structures but ‘museums of expressions’. He added that the Filipino performances are made dynamic. With this, he posed the question, “How dynamism could be incorporated in a Museum of Filipino Music Performance Art and ‘not museumized’?
Dr. Lucas underscored that to be able to do this, it is important to be introduced to familiar materials towards ‘a not so familiar’ including the classical, to build archives that are accessible, and have support system in public and private partnership.
NRCP Expert Class Reactor and Member Dr. Maria Alexandra I. Chua, Regular Member of NRCP Humanities Division and currently the Director of the University of Santo Tomas Research Center for Culture, Arts and Humanites, Performance and Music Culture in the Philippines, bares the reality of musical industry in the Philippines.
Dr. Chua emphasized that the area of musicological study has long been marginalized in the field, especially on music scholarship.
The reactions of Dr. Chua was quickly followed by an Open Forum moderated by Dr. Hope Sabanpan-Yu, Chair of NRCP Humanities Division. Most of the questions raised were about the youth’s appreciation to culture and heritage, operationalization of museum of imagination, about Original Pinoy Music, the risk attributed to conservation of culture and heritage, etc.
Dr. Lucas, Dr. Yu, and Dr. Chua during Open Forum
Meanwhile, NRCP Executive Director, Dr. Marieta Banez-Sumagaysay, emphasized the function of Expert Class as a platform for bringing issues of national concern to policymakers and relevant stakeholders through our experts sharing of their scientific and artistic research outputs, just like this episode’s topic on culture and heritage conservation.
She also highlighted the national concern on how to preserve Filipino and indigenious music while it continues to modernized and digitized in the present, and put on hold or, better still, stop the corrosion on the tradition and its memory.
Sumagaysay was also proud to tell that the NRCP supports the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) declaration of 2021 as the international year of creative economy for sustainable development.
The keyplayers and some of the participants of Expert Class Episode 12
The online class had a total of 248 (141 female, 107 male) participants including NRCP members, DOST agencies, representatives from creative arts groups, researchers, faculty, representatives from tourisms and LGU, students and teachers from different schools and universities, academe, media, and DepEd.