If my recollection serves me right, the first time I stepped inside the cavernous edifice that is the Cultural Center of the Philippines happened during my wonder years.
In high school, as part of our English Literature class, our whole section watched Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, translated into Filipino as Ang Importansya ng pagiging Masigasig by Rolando Tinio (who in 1997 was posthumously declared as National Artist for Theater and Literature).
What I can still remember most about the play produced by Teatro Pililipino then, were the lavish costumes (it was set during the Victorian era) and sets and the scintillating performance of Mr. Tinio’s all-time favorite muse and immortal beloved, the late, great Ella Luansing.
A little fast forward, from that first experience, officially, I worked at the CCP, in one of its artistic companies, Ballet Philippines. It was a three-month-old sweet, memorable stay. Edna Vida was the artistic director then, Sandy Hontiveros was the Executive Director. The Marketing and PR team were composed of Monica Llamas, Saki Ramos, and this Manila Standard columnist.
Prior to being part of BP, I was a regular viewer of their modern ballet and contemporary production. Viewed many plays produced by Tanghalang Pilipino, were amazed and awed by the cultural community dances given life on the CCP stage by the Bayanihan and the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Dance Group.
My first opera, Madame Butterfly, I watched at the Nicanor Abelardo. And the many firsts – being enthralled by prima ballerina Maniya Barredo as Giselle, the magnificent Swan Lake, Lea Salonga in the Manila run of Miss Saigon, which caused such a furor, and Phantom of the Opera.
Now, the CCP celebrates its 50th year. Five decades of championing and bringing the arts closer to the people. So many memories, productions, artistic collaborations, performers, composers, dancers, singers, conductors, musicians, visual, literary and cinematic artists have shared their souls and hearts in the many venues of the center of Philippine arts.
For this golden harvest season, a year-long fiesta will happen at the Sentrong Pangkultura Ng Pilipinas anchored to three main components namely, “Exemplifying Excellence in the Arts,” “Partnering for leadership in the arts” and “Broadening the reach for the arts.”
Each component has programs and activities that will be highlighted and put emphasis and importance to the given component.
Some fine examples, in the “Exemplifying Excellence” component, the public may expect the collaboration of traditional and contemporary visual artists, who will be creating a light installation and performance event Ginintuang Sining.
A Black Box theater and performing arts venue called the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez or the CCP Black Box Theater will be launched.
An anniversary gala will be presented in September this year and the succeeding year.
For the “leadership in the arts” part, CCP will host the following: Conference of the Association of Asia Pacific Performing Arts Centres, Federation of Asia Cultural Promoters, Manila International Performing Arts Markets, among others.
For the “Broadening the reach” component, some of the most noteworthy activities are the on-going Virgin Labfest 16, the forthcoming Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, CCP Libre, 50 free shows av he CCP and SiningKwenta: Show tickets for P50.
There was a moment in CCP’s history that it was deemed as nothing more but a manifestation of anything and everything that was “true, good and beautiful.” But the Muses and Fates, and most people who believe anything and everything that is Filipino, have been kind to the center of Philippine arts and culture that is why, in its golden anniversary, it continues to be relevant, abreast with the changing times and all the more passionate in feeding and nurturing the Filipino’s soul.
Mabuhay ang Sentrong Pangkutura ng Pilipinas!
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