NCCA wants to give faces to epic heroes

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Bayaning bayan. NCCA-Philippine Cultural Education Program head Joseph Cristobal (left) speaks during a press conference on “Bayaning Bayan” project. (Sun.Star Foto/Arni Aclao)

IN the Ilokano epic Biag ni Lam-ang, students might remember Lam-ang as the character with extraordinary strength and his ability to speak soon after birth. But few probably recall how he looks or what his skin tone is.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) will soon change that with the help of Filipino artists and illustrators.

In “Bayaning Bayan: Sa Ating mga Katutubong Epiko, Mito at Alamat,” the NCCA will give a human face to Filipino heroes depicted in regional epics, myths and folklore to make it easier for students to relate to them and remember them.


Dr. Joseph Cristobal, head of the Philippine Cultural Education Program (PCEP) of the NCCA, said the project will help address the dwindling interest in Philippine literature among the youth.

“We are hoping that if we give these characters a human face, the youth will be able to remember an image of that character. We will be able to promote better appreciation of our local heroes and our local culture,” said NCCA Commissioner Dr. Orlando Magno.

In a press conference yesterday, NCCA officials called on local artists and illustrators to help them with the project by submitting their own interpretation of 26 characters from 14 folk literatures, including Biag ni Lam-ang, Hudhud of the Ifugaos, Ullalim of Kalinga, Kudaman of Palawan and Agyu Ilianon of North Cotabato, among others.

The 30 winning entries will become the official images of the literary characters and will be compiled in a book.


“Right now, the students just remember who is killed in a certain folklore and without a face attached to a character, they easily forget its identity and distinct uniqueness. We have to give our local heroes a human face to bring our youth closer to them, to make them appreciate Filipino art and culture better,” he said during a press conference at the Summit Circle Hotel yesterday.


Meanwhile, Cristobal called for a study on the use of Filipino character Josie Rizal in the popular computer game Tekken. The first Pinay character in the Tekken series, Josie Rizal specializes in Filipino martial art eskrima and kickboxing, according to a Tweet posted by Bandai Namco Games’ Katsuhiro Harada.

Initially, they said they don’t see anything wrong with using a Filipino character named Josie Rizal, an apparent play on the name of Filipino hero Jose Rizal, as long as it is done with respect and dignity.

“I don’t see anything wrong as long as the Filipino character is promoted properly and has a positive image. Huwag lang mabastos and provided that it’s done responsibly and that there is no misrepresentation of the Filipino culture,” said Cristobal.

But after they were shown a photo of Josie Rizal in the Tekken game dressed in skimpy clothes with her navel, cleavage and thighs exposed, the NCCA officials had second thoughts.

“Parang hindi na nga nila nire-respeto ah. Akala ko parang Gabriela Silang ang character. Siguro nga dapat mapagaralan yan,” Cristobal added.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 31, 2015.

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