The City of Malaybalay is filled with pride as President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. officially declared Ms. Marife Ravidas Ganahon the “Manlilikha Ng Bayan for 2023,” as cited in Proclamation No. 427.

Ganahon, a skilled mat weaver from Barangay Patpat, Malaybalay City, has been recognized for her unwavering dedication to preserving and promoting the Higaonon ikam (mat weaving) tradition. This prestigious acknowledgment places her among the esteemed “National Living Treasures” of the Philippines.

The proclamation was signed by Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin on December 15, 2023, following the recommendation of the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA). Ms. Ganahon joins eight other honorees who have demonstrated exceptional mastery in various traditional Filipino arts.

Republic Act No. 7355, the law governing the recognition, emphasizes the acknowledgment of individuals whose “distinctive skills” have reached a “high level of technical and artistic excellence” in their respective traditional art forms.

Among the newly proclaimed cultural masters are Adelita Bagcal, recognized for her expertise in Ilocano Oral Traditions; Abina Coguit, celebrated for her Agusan Manobo embroidery; Sakinur-ain Delasas, renowned for Sama dance; Bundos Fara, distinguished for T’boli Brasscasting; Amparo Mabanag, acknowledged for Ga’dang Beadworks and Embroidery; Samporonia Madanlo, honored for Mandaya textile ikat weaving; Barbara Ofong, acclaimed for T’boli t’nalak weaving; and Rosie Sula, recognized for T’boli lingon chanting.

The declaration not only underscores the rich cultural tapestry of the Philippines but also highlights the importance of preserving and honoring the nation’s diverse artistic heritage. Ms. Ganahon and her fellow cultural masters serve as beacons of inspiration, embodying the spirit of Filipino creativity and tradition for generations to come.

Photo credit: NCCA