February 28, 2024

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda on Oct. 4 jumpstarted the revival of the National Arts and Crafts Fair (NACF), a flagship platform combining entrepreneurship and tradition, after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

In her keynote speech at the SM Megamall’s Megatrade Halls, Legarda lauded the resilience and creativity that has defined the Filipino spirit.

“We must continue to prioritize enhancing the competitive advantage that lies in the skills, talents, and ingenuity of the Filipino people because, with greater support, we can empower our MSMEs to create jobs and contribute to our country’s economic growth,” Legarda said.

“Our participating indigenous peoples and local entrepreneurs gathered here today are living testaments of our rich and vibrant heritage. Their work demonstrates that, despite modernity and technological innovation, nothing surpasses the beauty of crafts created by artisans who pour their hearts and souls into their creations, preserving our traditions and culture,” she added.

About 200 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from the country’s 17 regions have been carefully curated for the 2023 NACF, with their products featuring Philippine fabrics, handwoven items, and handicrafts.

Modern takes on handicrafts such as handmade ornaments, handcrafted jewelry, woven apparel, and home decor are featured in the event from Oct. 4 to 8.

Legarda envisioned and initiated the NACF in 2016 as an event dedicated exclusively to the country’s preservation of cultural heritage and promoting the economic viability of indigenous arts and crafts.

Before the pandemic, the five iterations of the NACF generated total revenue of P114 million for its exhibitors.

“Today, I reaffirm my unwavering support for the MSME sector, the protection of the rights of our indigenous peoples, and the promotion of our culture, heritage, artistry, and craftsmanship,” Legarda said.

“Let us work towards reviving our MSMEs, for it is not just about the products and the economic gains; it is about preserving our identity, supporting our communities, and keeping our culture and traditions alive for the next generations,” she added.

She also expressed her appreciation to the Department of Trade and Industry, the Design Center of the Philippines, and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts for making the event possible.

Since her time as a veteran broadcast journalist and now serving as a senator, Legarda devoted much of her life’s work to protecting the Philippine culture and the arts through documentaries, exhibits, and art fairs geared towards showcasing and enriching the country’s culture and heritage. 

This also pushed her to author several bills to further strengthen the foundation that would solidify the culture and arts as significant in nation-building, particularly the rights and traditions of indigenous people.

She authored Senate Bill 379, or the proposed Traditional Property Rights of Indigenous People’s Act, which seeks to protect IPs and safeguard the rights of traditional artists and artisans in their ethnic cultures and national heritage.

Moreover, recognizing its crucial role in the country’s upward growth trajectory, Legarda advocated for creating a Department of Culture that would institutionalize programs and activities promoting cultural heritage and national identity.

Further, she filed the bill that seeks to amend the National Museum of the Philippines charter to strengthen its mandate as the national repository of the country’s natural, cultural, and historical heritage. – Press release