5 Non-Profits Promoting Philippine Culture
How diverse is the Philippines? Within our 7,614 islands, did you know that 130 different languages are being spoken, excluding the dialects from these languages? In addition, did you know that there are 110 major indigenous groups in the country?
August, as our country’s official “Buwan ng Wika,” is a month that reminds us again to appreciate more our wonderful culture as Filipinos. Beyond speaking our national language, one way for us to promote and nurture our culture is to support non-profits that advocate for Philippine culture and arts.
We checked out non-government organizations (NGOs) in the Philippines that conduct events and activities seeking to increase awareness of and spread love for our diverse and rich culture. Here are some of what we found:
1. Bahay Nakpil-Bautista Foundation
Built in 1913, Bahay Nakpil-Bautista was owned by philanthropist Dr. Ariston Bautista and his wife Petrona Nakpil. It was also home to Julio Nakpil and his wife, Gregoria de Jesus (also the widow of Andres Bonifacio).
Photo courtesy of Bahay Nakpil-Bautista Facebook Page
In case you are not aware, Julio Nakpil was a Katipunero in-charge of one command during the revolution and composed the first Philippine National Anthem, “Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan,” while Gregoria de Jesus was the Lakambini of the Katipunan. Hence, as stated in the website, the house is aptly called, “Tahanan ng mga Katipunero” (Home of Heroes of the 1896 Revolution).
The Foundation, founded by the Nakpil offspring, exists to promote Bahay Nakpil-Bautista in Quiapo, Manila as a significant architectural masterpiece and historical site, as well as a center for community activities and a platform for projecting Filipino art and culture internationally.
Bahay Nakpil-Bautista recently organized Revolutionary: The Concert, a world premiere performance of Nakpil’s compositions at the Ayala Museum
You can support the organization by visiting Bahay Nakpil-Bautista located at 432 Ariston Bautista Street in Quiapo, or participating in their various events.
2. Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS)
CANVAS is a non-profit that collaborates with the creative community “to promote children’s literacy, explore national identity, and deepen public appreciation for Philippine art, culture and the environment.” It organizes art exhibitions in its own gallery and other creative pursuits, including TEDxDILIMAN.
Through the Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Writing Competition, CANVAS publishes award-winning children’s stories and donates these books to impoverished children throughout the Philippines. It aims to distribute one million books to one million children in the next decade.
The latest publication of CANVAS is Panyaan: Three Tales of the Tagbanua, which tells stories of the Tagbanua indigenous people in Palawan. One tale is about the legendary manlalabiyot (giant octopus) in the waters of Coron; another is about Apong Dakulo, a Great Elder; and the last is about Pablo and the Zebra of Calauit Zoo. You can read the stories here for free!
You may support the CANVAS by donating through Global Giving so you can help them give one million books to one million children.
3. Fundacion Santiago
Established in 1993, Fundacion Santiago is committed to contributing to the Filipinos’ better grasp of national identity by promoting and sustaining historical awareness. It also aims to contribute to sustainable development through entrepreneurship and community development.
Photo courtesy of Fundacion Santiago Facebook Page
To achieve its vision and mission, Fundacion Santiago works within a Community Based Heritage Tourism (CBHT) Framework in delivering quality interventions for vulnerable communities. The foundation maximizes the community’s cultural, historical and environmental wealth in its poverty alleviation efforts.
Currently, Fundacion Santiago works in these areas: Ilocos Sur, Metro Manila, Laguna, Quezon, Palawan and Bohol. The NGO also provides CBHT grants to other organizations dedicated to natural or cultural heritage research, cultural mapping, experience design, tour guide training, and marketing.
If you want to support Fundacion Santiago, you can avail of its Volun2rism tailor-fit packages for creative opportunities to share your talent, time, and resources while enjoying and learning about our country’s culture and heritage.
4. Kaliwat Theatre Collective
Kaliwat is a Bisaya word which means, “a generation of a race.” Recipient of the Patnubay sa Sining Award by the City of Manila in 2007, the Kaliwat Theatre Collective combines theater and community development to advocate for the “protection of land and the environment and respect for the indigenous peoples.”
A Kaliwat Performance on the T’boli, an indigenous group in the south of Mindanao
Based in Davao City, Kaliwat was founded on February 25, 1986, tracing its roots from the staff of the Mindanao Community Theatre Network. The founders, mostly from Mindanao, wrote and produced plays and performances that told the stories of Mindanao’s indigenous peoples, the inspiration behind the group’s artistic practices.
Two of Kaliwat’s plays include the “Nag-alintabong Kabilin,” (The Livid Heritage) peoples’ narratives on their struggles for peace and dignity, and the “Oya! Arakan,” a theatre concert on the journey of the Manobos of Arakan for self-determination by claiming their ancestral domain.
Check out Kaliwat’s Facebook page for news on the group’s latest shows.
5. Mangyan Heritage Center
Mangyan is the collective name for the eight indigenous groups who live in the island of Mindoro. Each indigenous group has its own name, language, and set of customs. These eight indigenous groups are the Iraya, Alangan, Tadyawan, Tau-buid, Bangon, Buhid, Hanunuo, and Ratagnon.
The Mangyan Heritage Center (MHC) aims to protect and promote the indigenous culture of the Mangyan in Mindoro through its library, archive, and research and education center located in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro. Did you know that the Hanunuo Mangyan continues to use Surat Mangyan, a pre-Spanish syllabic script and write indigenous poetry? (This is different from the Baybayin or Alibata you’ve been taught in Filipino class.)
Mangyan Students in an Ambahan Writing Contest. Ambahan is the Hanunuo Mangyan’s traditional poetry usually written on bamboo in Surat Mangyan. (Photo courtesy of MHC’s Facebook Page)
At least 2,000 Mangyan-related documents dating back from the 1570s are in the MHC’s rich library. These documents include studies by anthropologists including the Dutch Antoon Postma, who lived in Mindoro for over 50 years until he passed away on October 2016.
To support the MHC, you can buy their local handmade products through the website, visit the center when in Mindoro, and attend their various events.
Indeed, there are so many ways to encourage learning and love for the Philippine culture – visit local museums and galleries, donate children’s books, join heritage tours, watch plays, buy handmade products, etc. So go out, explore, and discover!
Or if you just can’t do it right now, the simplest thing to do is share this article and spread the good news to your friends!
Cover Photo by: Yam Otarra