What National Arts Month Wants Families to Do in February 2024

The Philippines celebrates National Arts Month 2024 this coming February! Here’s why it’s a must for families to celebrate it.

The Philippines has a rich history in art—whether in dancing, singing, writing, painting, tattooing or even cooking. Because of the different tribes living scattered across the archipelago, families from those areas developed a unique perspective and philosophy about beauty. That’s why the Philippines has something called National Arts Month.

With that, artistic diversity is what Filipinos are celebrating this coming National Arts Month 2024, with Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray introducing the theme in the opening event.

“National Arts Month 2024 is celebrated with the theme Ani ng Sining Bayang Malikhain underscoring the bountiful harvest of a Filipino creative nation drawn from the products of human imagination, not just of individuals but of people as a collective,” she announces during the NCAA’s event to open the month-long celebration.

Catriona Gray speaking at the National Arts Month 2024 launch
Source: catriona_gray Instagram

When did National Arts Month start?

National Arts Month became a month-long celebration in February 1991. The president at that time, former and late president Corazon C. Aquino, declared and signed Presidential Proclamation 683 on January 28, 1991, to encourage Filipinos “to celebrate the artistic excellence and pay tribute to the uniqueness and diversity of the Filipino heritage and culture.”

The late president also declared that the Philippines would join the rest of the world in celebrating the arts for that decade. “WHEREAS, the Philippines joins the rest of the world in celebrating the International Decade of Culture, and has declared the Decade 1988 to 1998 as the Decade of Filipino Culture and Nationalism;”

Is it a coincidence that it’s in February?

But the interesting thing to note is how the month for the National Arts falls on the month commonly associated with love. February is often associated with Valentine’s—the international holiday of romantic expression. While we often argue that love and romance are the same thing, it’s more like they share the same element of passion.

Passionate feelings—joy, serenity, love, sadness, grief, bitterness, rage, and even hatred—can drive anyone to do anything (Noy and Noy-Sharav, 2013). But we can’t always act on those emotions. Sometimes, we need to channel it in a productive and socially acceptable way which is what art is. Be it painting, cooking, singing, or dancing—at some point, artworks, lyrics, choreographies, and even recipes were someone’s wish or frustration with something.

There’s just a mysterious feeling that art unlocks within us. That same energy also fuels us to create, especially when the conditions are met.

Take for example Jewelle Yeung and Olivia D’Aboville, who let motherhood inspire and fuel their works. Or former basketball player and now dad JC Intal, who traded the court for the canvas and the ball for the brush. Furthermore, he started hosting solo exhibits.

Celebrated dancer Gary Valenciano’s electrifying performances are what earned him the moniker “Mr. Pure Energy.” Until today, many remember him for his exciting dances.

But art doesn’t just contain emotions. It tells a story; it shares the experiences one had with their own family.

We celebrate Filipino art and how it connects generations-worth of traditions

Many designers often imagined Filipino art as something stereotypically tropical and tribal in expression, shape, and form (Coo, 2014). The appreciation of the Filipino artisans’ use of plant fibers, roughly forged metals, subtly shining shells, and vibrant colors in both weaves and paintings was ultimately still an acquired taste for many (Poblador, 2015; Ramos, 2016).

However, the sudden rise of the Modern Filipiñana movement onto the global stage soon convinced many fashion icons, designers, and stylists to see Filipino-styled bespoke pieces as a possible topic of conversation (Xu, 2022).

But the beauty of these pieces is knowing how they celebrate years of tradition. Families would pass the art and its philosophies to the next generation who will have to find a way to persuade society of its importance. A lot of times, the adaptation can and may look like appropriation like how the T’nalak weaves are used for contemporary barongs, wide-legged pants, or vests.

Yet, many forget that these weaves are sacred to the T’boli mothers, sisters, and daughters who often offered their woven masterpieces to their goddess of Abaca, Fu Dalu (Clariza, 2019; Hernani, Hernani, and Dulay, 2021).

But we also have to ask ourselves: if they [the artisans] don’t adapt their traditional arts to contemporary arts then, how can we encourage families to actively appreciate and patronize it?

National Arts Month is a celebration of the Filipinos’ artistic identity

When Catriona Gray called the people to celebrate “human imagination” and “people as a collective,” she perhaps encouraged also many families to recall the love we once had for the arts. As parents, it’s not an uncommon story among us to hear someone trading their affinity and love for the arts for something more lucrative and sustainable for a family.

But perhaps this February 2024 for National Arts Month, maybe we can be more creative with our expressions of love. A song, a dance, an art piece, or even some bespoke fashion items—maybe this month is also reminding Filipinos and their families that love doesn’t just connect.

It creates.


Clariza, M. E. (2019). Sacred Texts and Symbols. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion3(2), 80-92.

Coo, S. M. R. (2014). Clothing and the colonial culture of appearances in nineteenth century Spanish Philippines (1820-1896) (Doctoral dissertation, Nice).

Hernani, E. V., Hernani, M. R. A., & Dulay, D. A. (2021). Dancing With the Dreamweavers: A Narrative Discourse of the T’bolis of the Southern Philippines. In Indigenous Research of Land, Self, and Spirit (pp. 200-214). IGI Global.

Noy, P., & Noy‐Sharav, D. (2013). Art and emotions. International journal of applied psychoanalytic studies10(2), 100-107.

Poblador, P. E. T. (2015). Defining a Filipino heritage brand in the digital age. DLSU Business Notes and Briefings3(1).

Ramos, M. F. (2016). The Filipina Bordadoras and the Emergence of Fine European-style Embroidery Tradition in Colonial Philippines, 19th to early-20th Centuries (Doctoral dissertation, Mount Saint Vincent University).

Roces, M. (2005). Gender, Nation and the Politics of Dress in Twentieth‐Century Philippines. Gender & History17(2), 354-377.

Xu, D. (2022). Echoes of Maria Clara: Memory,(Im) materiality, and Poetics in Filipino Dress (Doctoral dissertation).

Proclamation No. 683, s. 1991 | GOVPH. (n.d.). Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines.

More about art?

Jewelle Yeung and Olivia d’Aboville: The Canvas of Life
Why Parents Should Encourage Their Kids To Dance
Lisa Macuja-Elizalde: Strength Found in Grace

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