Philippine Center for the Arts and Sciences
By Apolinario Villalobos
Being a third world country, the Philippines’ only other resources aside from the natural endowments such minerals, wildlife, forests, marine life, and rich agricultural land, that it can be proud of, are the people – the talented Filipinos. It is a shame that the human resources are treated only as some kind of an exportable “commodity” in the form of labor. There is dignity in labor, but there are more that the Filipinos can do other than work in hospitals, hotels, construction sites and homes in foreign countries. The Filipinos are oozing with talents, but unfortunately, are not supported by the government.
Filipino talents in the fields of invention, literary and music are relegated on the sidelines. Singing contests in village fiestas, TV programs and those organized by private entities bring out world-class singers, but after the announcement of their winning and limited appearance in TV shows, nothing is heard about them. The popular adage is about the need for the Filipino singers to go to other countries to be able to earn recognition that they deserve.
There is the so-called National Institute of Science of Technology (NIST), the government agency that is supposed to be charged with responsibilities on Filipino inventions. It seems that even in the issuance of patent, the agency is lagging. The Filipinos know of inventions only through the media, when resourceful researchers of TV programs are able to scour the countryside for low-profile inventors. Most often, these inventors confess that they have gone to the NIST but outright, they get the feeling of being inadequate due to so many requirements. The standard alibi of the NIST is that they need to check the inventions’ authenticity before they can be recognized, but how long will it take them to do it? Additionally, they also mention the lack of budget!
Also, the inventions are brought to the attention of the consumers only during exhibits which charge high entrance fees to the interested public, and exorbitant charges for inventors who would like to participate. And, to think that these exhibits and shows are supposed to be “sponsored” by the mentioned government agency in cooperation with the inventors’ organization. The NIST should sustain the expenses, as the event is held only once a year. It will not cost the NIST millions of pesos to shoulder the rent for a venue.
The local market is flooded with gadgets from other countries, especially, China, and these are gadgets that can be manufactured locally. So many times, the media expose local inventions that are supposed to curb expenses on electricity, as well as, fuel consumption, even nature-friendly insecticides, and many more. Unfortunately, these inventions are just showcased, waiting for the government support! And, sadly, some of them end up in other countries for mass-production to be brought back to the Philippines as finished products bearing foreign sounding brand names.
Filipino literary artists also suffer from government neglect and utter lack of support. While colleges and universities offer mass communication courses, the graduates are left to fend for themselves after graduation, with most talented writers ending up as clerks in offices. I once talked to the former Director of the National Library of the Philippines, Ms. Nani Cruz, who confided that the institution, for long, has been in dire need of Filipino-authored books. That was more than five years ago. Today, not only is the National Library of the Philippines STILL wanting for the said kind of books but even the bookstores are showing their lack of concern by preferring imported books – best sellers in countries where they come from! These book outlets gladly and proudly announce arrival of foreign authors for book signing!
My suggestion is for the government to expand the scope of NIST’s responsibilities by adding the aspect of permanent showcasing of inventions, be they with issued or pended patent. This can be done by moving the said agency to a big facility complete with equipment for testing and a showroom- a one-stop shop of sort, located in an area accessible to the consumers and patent buyers/manufacturers. The facility should also accommodate those that concern literary and music. It should be a complex that aspiring artists can visit, not only for copyrighting of their works but also for marketing purposes. It should also include audio-video recording facilities. The Copyright office should be based in this center. It should also provide office spaces for organizations that cater to the development of artistic talents of Filipinos. It is suggested that this complex be called “The Philippine Center for the Arts and Sciences”.
If the former President Ferdinand Marcos turned dictator, was able to build hospitals and research institutes for the heart, kidney and the lungs, additional building complex for the Philippine General Hospital, a vast complex that includes Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theater, Philippine International Convention Center, Coconut Palace, and Philippine Trade and Exhibition Center, why can’t the current government build what is being suggested – the Philippine Center for the Arts and Sciences?
If Pnoy Aquino would really want to be remembered, this, he should do. He should stop warbling about “reforms” for there is nothing that needed to be reformed. He has done NOTHING YET! What he meant could be the “eradication” of corruption which has just gone from worse to worst! He even refuses to acknowledge the fact that some of his trusted guys are not “clean”…hinging his support to them on the premise that unless they are proven guilty in court, they are innocent of any guilt. How can they be investigated when he, himself, is insinuating that they are innocent? He should stop talking about reforms because the inadequacies of his administration just add up to neck-deep atrocities already committed by past administrations. If he wants to leave a legacy, it should be tangible enough to be seen and remembered…and this is it, the Philippine Center for the Arts and Sciences.