Beyond Brushstrokes


“It has been an amazing 20-year journey for the Filipino Heritage Festival, Inc. (FHFI), in partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Under Presidential Proclamation No. 439, FHFI promotes the preservation and conservation of our country’s heritage,” Mita B. Rufino, FHFI president, remarked at the opening of the festival. “We keep our heritage, culture and traditions alive and instill in the future generation its im-portance, values and significance…”

It is challenging to produce multiple events throughout the Philippines. Another challenge was during the COVID-19 lockdown when the live activities were cancelled, still, colorful cultural virtual productions were shown online.

“The FHFI has been fortunate through two decades that there are corporations and organizations from the private, government and public sectors who have continuously extended support. They keep the vigor and spirit of FHFI through visual art exhibitions, performing arts, music, dance and theater, culinary and literary events, local tours. Everyone who has been with us since the beginning has seen the enormous challenges,” said Ms. Rufino.

In particular, she thanked Senator Sonny Angara “who believes so much in what we do. His vision in culture and traditions, and continuing support drive FHFI to further heights in our advocacy.”

Ms. Rufino pointed out that this year, on its 20th anniversary, the highlight of the Heritage Month celebration “is the collaboration of two organizations, with the same ideals of keeping heritage alive — Artefino and FHF.”

Artefino co-founder Maritess M. Pineda explained the collaboration of the group with FHFI. “It has always been the goal of Artefino to promote the craft of the community to preserve our heritage.

“We have managed to give them a platform and a market for their products. When the younger generation of artisans see that these products have a market, they will be encouraged to dedicate themselves to the trade and not move to other industries. The designers should make the clothes more wearable and adaptable to our daily needs,” she said.

“FHFI brings out the ingenuity, creativity and imagination into an alliance that results in an exquisite fashion-dance production entitled PAMANA: Woven Legacies in Fashion and Dance (with the participation of Danspace Bal-let School),” said Ms. Rufino. PAMANA will be held on May 29 at the Manila Polo Club Main Lounge.

There are other interesting activities this Heritage Month, including The Youth Heritage Essay Writing Contest, now on its 5th year. Contest adviser Chichi Salas shared her thoughts: “I have always been interested in heritage stories. Somehow, when I read the entries, I feel we have helped open hearts and minds to things that really matter or should matter. So sad that we can only give a few awards, especially now that entrants are from all parts of the country.”

Cultural worker and creative curator of the “The Youth Forum on Heritage” Delan Robillos said: “The aim is to engage young people in heritage conservation, education and advocacy.”

Heritage Month’s varied activities depend on the community organization or cultural agencies hosting them. These include a Traditional Santa Cruz de Mayo Procession at Intramuros on May 19; a Heritage and Cultural Tour called “Immersion of Intramuros” (with Chinatown and Binondo) on May 21; and a performance by the Philippine Ballet Theater of excerpts from “Vinta” and Sarimanok” in Negros Occidental on May 24 to 26.

The events extend into June, including a month-long exhibit focusing on National Artist Larry Alcala called Slices of Life, Wit and Humor at the Gateway Gallery, Gateway Mall, Araneta City in Cubao, Quezon City.

FHFI Board member Gil G. Chua said: “I feel so proud of all the good and impactful work FHFI has done in the last two decades. The yearly National Heritage Month celebration featuring performances, exhibits, culinary event and other activities emphasizing traditions and customs has indeed enabled us to reach a wider audience of Filipinos to promote rich heritage.

“We shall continue to pursue efforts to instill, especially among the Filipino youth, the appreciation and pride in our culture as a nation and as a race,” he said.

“Mabuhay ang lahing Pilipino.”

Happy 20th anniversary and congratulations to the Board, officers, sponsors, artists, participants of Filipino Heritage Festival, Inc.!


Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.