MANILA, Philippines – A bill to protect, preserve, and promote the traditional arts in Mindanao has been filed by two Mindanao legislators in Congress.

House Bill No. 1580 filed by House Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman of the lone district of Basilan and Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Party-list Rep. Amihilda J. Sangcopan creates INSUMINTRA, or the Institute of Sulu and Mindanao Traditional Arts.

The bill notes the island’s cultural diversity and the importance of its conservation. Hataman, a former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), explained that Mindanao has been home to indigenous peoples—18 Lumad tribes, 13 different Moro races, and more than 64 other ethnic groups—who have lived in the island for centuries.

“The effect of this cultural diversity is strongly reflected in Mindanao traditional arts,” he said.

The lawmaker said that Mindanao is more than recognized—it has been prominent for its arts such as hand weaving, metallurgy, architecture, music and epic chanting. This prompted the government agencies and private sector to recognize and celebrate Mindanao’s arts.

Hataman however, said, “But the chance of these arts surviving popular recognition under an environment of fast-changing technological advances is in question.”

The above, Hataman said, is the reason that he and Sangcopan are pushing for the immediatepassage of HB 1580.

“There is a need for a distinct government agency that would conserve, appreciate, and protect Mindanao’s arts and treasures, and that it is an urgent measure that Filipinos should support,” the former ARMM governor said.

Both Hataman and Sangcopan stressed that traditional arts in Mindanao and Sulu must be kept alive as these traditional practices are the remaining proof of the pre-colonial identity of the people of Mindanao and Sulu, and of all Filipinos—aside from the financial gain of the communities.

If the bill becomes law, INSUMINTRA will be an independent government agency with functions affiliated mostly with those of government agencies with similar functions, such as the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

The institute will operate through a Board of Trustees reporting to the President and to Congress.

The Board will also have governance and policy-making powers, bearing a structure composed of: a Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos; Chairpersons of the Mindanao Development Authority, the National Council on Indigenous Peoples, and the NCCA; a representative from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM); the executive director of the INSUMINTRA; and five members appointed by the President from the private sector who have significant backgrounds on Mindanao’s traditional arts and who are graduates of related fields specifically anthropology, educations or the social sciences.

INSUMINTRA’s secretariat will be led by an executive director selected by the Board.

Photo from TNT Abante


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