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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Inclusively cultural 

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If you look up the word inclusivity in the dictionary, Mr. Webster defines it as “the quality or state of being inclusive.” Cambridge Dictionary has a narrower definition – “the quality of including many different types of people and treating them all fairly and equally.”

Such a broad phrase, and equally hard to accomplish, I surmise.

In the creative sector, being inclusive means everyone has equal access to artmaking and education, including opportunities and livelihood, with respect for diversity.

For years, inclusivity has been one of the priorities of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

“Dapat kasama ang lahat sa gawaing pansining at kultura,” said CCP Production and Exhibition Department (PED) head Ariel Yonzon during the gradution rites of the Front of House’s Apprenticeship Program held recently.

CCP Apprentice Kyrah Marifosque shares her experience during the program using sign language

Six students from the Philippine School for the Deaf, namely Mc Neil John T. Bañarez, Kyrah C. Marifosque, Joemari Glenn L. Miguel, Jerome B. Palingcod, Benjie Sedillo, and Sherwin S. Valloso, finished the program, where they underwent training on basic front of house training, basic safety and health protocols, and technical theater, among others. They also had hands-on experience in ushering during the run of Pingkian, the theater offering of Tanghalang Pilipino, at the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez.

Managed by the CCP Venue Operations Division, under PED, the CCP Apprenticeship Program was established in 1991 as a training ground for backstage and front-of-house works.

“Back then, it was called the Back Up. It referred to Backstage and Upfront. Light director Barbie Tan-Tiongco was in charge of the backstage training, which included lights, sound, stagehand, fly system, etc. For the upfront, I led the training,” shared Yonzon.

Front of house includes “lahat ng makikita sa harap ng tanghalan.”

The members of the CCP venue operations division team which is headed by Ariel Yonzon (leftmost)

“Front of house receives the visitors and guests. Tayo ang mukha ng gusali at pagtatanghal. Tayo ang unang nakakasalamuha ng mga panauhin,” said Yonzon.

From its inception, the Apprenticeship Program has improved by leaps and bounds, and it has become more inclusive.

In recent years, CCP VOD partnered with various organizations such as Tahanang Walang Hagdan, Center for Migrant Youth, Bahay Kalinga, Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Pasay, among others. They also engaged out-of-school youth from Smokey Mountain, senior citizens, and retired employees.

“Kinakatawan ng programang ito ang konsepto ng inclusivity, na sana kasama lahat, sa pagtatanghal, sa panonood, sa hanapbuhay, sa gawaing pangsining at kultura,” expressed Yonzon

While the apprentices learn about Philippine arts and culture and gain employable skills, the CCP also learns from them.

Through the Apprenticeship Program, the Center can understand what its audiences go through and have been experiencing when they visit and watch at CCP.

“Natututo rin kami sa mga apprentice. The ramps and PWD-friendly facilities we incorporated in our theaters and building were the result of our interactions with the Tahanang Walang Hagdan,” shared Yonzon.

CCP also created braille souvenir programs for visually impaired audiences. With the recent partnership, there are now intentions to incorporate sign language in various CCP productions.

“We are planning to have sign language interpretation in our shows. We hope we can do it from simple theater plays to big productions such as opera. We are also studying to the possibility to do an audio describe performance, kung saan nakalagay kung ano ang tunog na nagaganap,” said CCP artistic director Dennis N. Marasigan.

He continued: “This stems from our aspiration to be more inclusive and accessible to all Filipinos, whatever their social backgrounds and physical capabilities. We want our audiences to have the best theater experience.”

During the graduation, Marasigan urged the new apprentices to continue learning and explore the possibility of becoming part of the CCP Front of House staff.

“The CCP Apprenticeship Program aims to provide employable skills for the apprentices. Bakit skills lang ang ibibigay natin? Bakit hindi employment na? Malugod naming kayong tatanggapin sa aming FOH,” said Marasigan.

Watching the Deaf apprentices perform during their graduation, made me want to study Filipino sign language to be able to communicate with our brothers and sisters with challenges in hearing and speech.

Inclusivity is the way to go.

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