MANILA, Philippines – The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) formally opened Philippine Arts Month (February) in colorful festivities held on January 29 at the Rizal Park, Manila.
With an overall theme on “Tradition and Innovation”, the afternoon was devoted to free workshops representing the seven arts: “Origamic Architecture” for Architecture, “Drawing for Animation” for Cinema, a dance workshop for Dance, a poetry-writing workshop for the Literary Arts, an “Aquadrums and Gongs & Bamboo Workshop” for Music, and a kite-making workshop for the Visual Arts. No workshop was conducted for the seventh art, the Dramatic Arts.
Just before sunset, different performing arts groups converged by the Lagoon Area and paraded around the park for a colorful display of music and artistry. The parade was followed by the formal opening of the Philippine Arts Festival (PAF) 2012 at Concert at the Park, Rizal Park’s open-air auditorium which has played host to numerous state-organized musical performances throughout the decades.
A light shower threatened to wash out the whole program just as the evening concert was about to start, but as soon as the rains were over people started heading back to the open-air auditorium’s stone benches to enjoy the show. The concert formally opened just before nightfall with a series of performances depicting the four elements–earth, wind, fire, and water–by dance groups Halili-Cruz Ballet Company, Sinukwan Performing Arts, Lahing Batangan, and PNU Kislap Sining.
Interpreting the Seven Visual Arts
The meat of the concert was a series of interpretations of the seven visual arts, beginning with a comedy skit representing the Dramatic Arts entitled “Alayb Pa Si Lolo” by Artists, Inc., about a young man who wants to commit suicide but is dissuaded by his grandfather by doing so. Next up, for the Visual Arts, was a collaboration between visual artist Nemi Miranda and the Quezon City Ballet, who delivered an interesting interpretation of British singer Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” By the time the dance was over, Miranda had produced a fresh piece of abstract art–paint still wet and all–inspired by the dance.
Another highlight of the show was the series of percussion performances, representing Music, by Armor Rapista and the Starglow Cultural Group, who performed using bamboo instruments and gongs, and Paul Zialcita and Aquadrumz UnLimited, who performed using five-gallon water bottles and other experimental musical instruments. Some of the performers from that segment were part of the workshops that were held just that afternoon.
The next juxtaposition to hit the stage was that of folk and neo-classical dance, with the PNU Kislap Sining Dance Troupe performing a traditional dance from the Cordilleras, followed by the Halili-Cruz Ballet Company performing a colorful classical ballet number.
Poetry was up next both onstage and off, as the voice and poetry of Teo Antonio resounded around the auditorium under a crescent moon and the first few stars of the night. After Antonio’s “Barong Tagalog” and “Ako’y Ibigin Mo”, Joseph Erwin Valerio of Talentado Pinoy fame rendered what seemed to be a commentary on over-development vis-a-vis the serene beauty of pastoral lands, all through a three-minute sand art presentation.
A quarter-century of creativity
At the close of the program, NCCA Chairperson Prof. Felipe “Jun” de Leon, Jr. spoke in Filipino about the 25 years of the NCCA in “bringing to life the Filipino imagination.” He spoke of art as the “mirror of the soul, the mind, and the emotions of the Filipino”, and of the NCCA’s efforts to bring art closer to the Filipino people through a regular series of workshops, forums, shows, and events that will be held around the country. He used the tagline, “Galing Sining, Galing Pinoy” to encourage the audience to “not only watch or view art, but participate in it.”
The NCCA was created through Executive Order No. 118 of the late President Corazon C. Aquino, who created the Presidential Commission on Culture and the Arts. Five years later, in 1992, the PCCA became the NCCA through Republic Act 7356 authored by Senators Edgardo Angara, Heherson Alvarez, Leticia Ramos Shahani, and Congressman Carlos Padilla.
The annual celebration of National Arts Month started in 1991 with Presidential Proclamation 683 declaring February as National Arts Month.
– With information from the NCCA press kit
Disclosure: The author is married to percussionist Paul Zialcita.