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Home NEWS Filipiniana Art and Architecture under Martial Law

Art and Architecture under Martial Law

Filipino art and culture was institutionalized during the martial law regime when in 1973 the Constitution stated that "Filipino culture shall be preserved and developed for national identity"; therefore the "arts and letters shall be under the patronage of the State." Government support for the arts was shown in the architecture and other cultural institutions commissioned by the first lady, Imelda R. Marcos.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex was built on reclaimed land in Pasay City as the "sanctuary of the Filipino soul." Cultural events like the Kasaysayan ng Lahi festival, the 1974 Miss Universe Beauty Pageant, and the 1982 Manila International Film Festival were all held at the CCP. Today the CCP hosts renowned art companies like Ballet Philippines and Tanghalang Pilipino. It also produces theater and dance shows, as well as the 13 Artists Awards for young visual artists.

In the martial law era, other cultural buildings were built within the periphery of the CCP Complex:  the Folk Arts Theater, Design Center Philippines, the Philippine International Convention Center, the Museum of Philippine Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, and the Museum of Philippine Costumes. Martial law architecture sought to "express Filipino identity" with the use of folkloric elements such as the design of the bahay-kubo, or materials from the coconut used to construct the Tahanang Pilipino or Coconut Palace.

Individual artists were given official recognition as well. Presidential Proclamation 1001 of April 27, 1972 created the National Artist Award to serve as our "national expression of gratitude and appreciation…for [the National artists'] contribution to the heritage of our society." In the same Proclamation, Fernando Amorsolo was declared the first National Artist.


Lico, Gerard. Edifice Complex: Power, Myth, and Marcos State Architecture. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2003.

Marcos, Ferdinand. Presidential Proclamation 1001: Declaring Fernando Amorsolo a National Artist. April 27, 1972.