For the past month or so, you might have encountered the hashtag Dama Ko, Lahi Ko on your social media feeds. You might have wondered what it meant and if it’s just another ploy to sell you something: a shirt? Maybe a tote? A Zoom concert?
Well, it IS selling something it turns out: it’s selling us the idea that our Filipino-ness, the unique representations of our culture, can very well be our ticket to real progress. It’s essentially waking us up again to what makes us who we are as a people. Is it our national dance? Is it wearing a barong during weddings? Is it our yearly efforts to celebrate Linggo ng Wika?
And why do we have to think about this at a time when there’s a global health crisis? Surely there are far more immediate concerns to prioritize. Well, yes, but also there’s this other perspective we can’t just not listen to. If you ask the guys behind Dama Ko Lahi Ko—spearheaded by homegrown brands and local personalities from our creative communities, among them the apparel label Filip+Inna, ad agencies like Gigil and MullenLowe TREYNA, culinary movers and shakers Margarita Fores, Felice Prudente Sta. Maria and Claude Tayag, National Bookstore, Goldilocks, Team Manila and the Museum Foundation, among many others—a quick glance at our Asian neighbors tells us that culture and economic growth are not separate priorities. In fact, “culture underpins economic recovery and growth.”
The campaign points to a UNESCO 2015 report that says Asia Pacific is the world’s biggest cultural and creative industries market, “generating US$743 billion of revenues and 12.7 million jobs.” We don’t even have to look beyond our Netflix menus. Look at South Korea projecting its love of its own culture to the world, and the world growing to love everything Hallyu. Maybe we can do that, too.
Dama Ko Lahi Ko is saying “Filipino culture and creativity is our soft power. It can jumpstart our economic growth.” How? Through us living our Filipino culture mindfully everyday, individually and with others, we can send a message to the world. We can help influence global preferences just by living out loud as Filipinos, using the elements of our culture and the products of our brilliant creatives.
With this goal in mind, Dama Ko Lahi Ko was born as the name and unifying theme of the campaign. It was launched last May 19, the anniversary of General Emilio Aguinaldo bringing to the Philippines our first national flag from Hong Kong. It culminates this Saturday, June 12, the anniversary of Philippine independence.
Dama Ko Lahi Ko is a call to celebrate Filipino culture through our five senses: paningin, pang-amoy, pandinig, panlasa at pansalat. This covers everything from our textiles to our fiestas, our natural attractions and our handicrafts, the scent of our sampaguitas to the unique groove of Manila sound, the taste of sisig to the sound of a Filipino Christmas. It even extends to our hospitality, our love for family, and our undying resolve to forge on despite incredible hurdles.
We’d love to see this campaign go beyond hashtags in the coming days and months. It would be great to see it really take off beyond sharing pictures on Instagram and wearing Filipino-made stuff on Fridays—although we’d love to see that continue, too. But we’d love to see it find its legs with support from policymakers and big business. We’d love to see it as a movement. It’s a great mindset to have today when we are celebrating our independence as a nation. For only when we can stand on our feet and when we can appreciate our own strengths can we truly be free.