Wednesday, August 24, 2011


At the CCP, art flourishes despite lack of funds
08/17/2011 06:00 PM

With the ongoing controversy over a piece in one of its exhibits, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has been getting an unusual amount of attention lately.

While there may not be such a thing as bad publicity, however, the CCP would much rather receive the kind of attention that leads to financial support.

As a tour around the CCP on Wednesday revealed, the artists succeed not only because of the support given by the institution, but also despite the lack of funds.

“Yung kotse natin kapag umaabot ng limang taon lumalabas na po yung mga diperensya. Yung tao din, when we hit 40 may mga supplements na. This building is 42 years old and the cracks are beginning to show,"says Head of Theater Operations Ariel Yonzon.

"With limited resources and such an old facility, we're kind of cramped. We have some limitations," says Yonzon, whose career in the CCP began in 1985, when he worked as a part-time usher.

At the height of the controversy over the artwork Poleteismo last week, CCP Vice President Chris Millado invited the media to tour the center's premises to “feel the energy of this wonderful exchange and innovation of the creative mind, so that we may all better appreciate where art comes from and how art is created and why we all need to staunchly uphold this space called artistic freedom."

He appealed to everyone to champion the arts and not denigrate it. Officials of the CCP were forced to close down the exhibit Kulo last week due to threats from religious extremists, and its Visual Arts head Karen Flores resigned in the wake of the controversy.

Founded in 1969, the CCP is a government-owned corporation that produces and presents at least 800 shows a year, with around 400,000 people attending at the main venues.

The CCP nurtures artists through its Resident Company Program, which includes the Philippines Philharmonic Orchestra, the UST Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Philippines, the Philippine Ballet Theater, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Tanghalang Pilipino, Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, and the National Music Competition for Young Artists.

Wednesday's tour began at the main lobby, where a brass sculpture and a canvas tapestry, both named "Seven Arts," could be seen.

"The entire building is an art piece," says Yonzon.

Members of the Philippine Ballet Theater were rehearsing at the lobby.

"Kami rin po ay nangangailangan ng suporta hindi lang sa gobyerno kung di pati sa private sector. Karamihan sa dancers nagtrain sa Pilipinas pero lumalabas sa bansa para makakuha ng mas magandang oportunidad. Nakakapanghinayang na ginagawa pong training ground ang Pilipinas. Sana mabigyan ng atensyon ng gobyerno yung sining, partikular yung sayaw," said Artistic Director Ronilo Jaynario.

"It would be worse to demoralize other artists. Art enhances people and it makes things better in the world. Help us artists give art, not take it away," said one ballerina.

Meanwhile, the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company rehearsed at the Main Theater for Philippinescape: Through the Eyes of Dance. The four-part show opens Thursday, and will feature the Loboc Children's Choir.

"The space is limited, and we have to borrow equipment to complement what is already existing at the CCP," says Bayanihan Executive Director Suzie Benitez.

At the fourth floor, the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group rehearses in a corner of the Silangan Hall.

"We have our own culture. Hindi lang Lady Gaga or Bruno Mars or Justin Bieber. Mayroon po tayong sarili na sana yung mga bata, they become aware that we have a very very rich background. Nakakalimutan na po natin ito,"says Iris Obusan, sister of the group’s founder, National Artist for Dance Ramon Obusan, who died in 2006.

"We have been digging deep into our pockets just to maintain this group. These are children, hundreds of them sometimes roam the streets. Mayroon kaming commitment sa mga bata to take them off the streets and have them do something," she says.

She adds that her brother’s research needs to be digitized, but the funds are not enough.

At the basement, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra rehearsed a piece from Samson and Delilah. PPO Music Director Olivier Ochanine said they had just come from a show in Beijing. "It's different here, we're working with a bit of a hot temperature," he said, adding that there has been a big effort to replace the instruments.

"We're lacking quite a bit more. Given the limitations that we have, they're doing a splendid job," he said.

At the small ballet studio, Ballet Philippines President Margie Moran said they advocate an arts education program to make the youth appreciate the arts.

"We feel that art is the soul of the Filipino. Ballet Philippines has been very successful in promoting Filipino artistry," she says.

Artistic Director Paul Alexander Morales notes that they have a very small space, and they share the hall with the orchestra. "The space is really maximized," he says.

As the dancers prepare to rehearse a scene from “Crisostomo Ibarra," he recalls the best reaction they have received so far. "Sa school nila gustong itigil ang pag-aaral ng Noli at Fili dahil bored na yung mga bata. After watching, nabuhayan sila," he says.

At the Little Theater, Tanghalang Pilipino rehearsed a scene for its current play, “Noli Me Tangere" where Elyas and Crisostomo Ibarra argue. "Paano tayo uunlad? Sa pamamagitan ng armadong laban, o sa pamamagitan ng edukasyon?" mused John Arcilla, who is helping the company raise funds with the play.

"Since 1990, ito pa rin ang gamit dito. Sa gitna po ng presentasyon, nasira ang technicals," he says, recalling the artists' night he had organized.

"Yun ang realidad. Kulang na kulang. Nangangarap kami na sana huwag ganito ang kalagayan. Kailangan ng support," says Arcilla.

Millado appealed, “We all need to support the arts instead of threatening it."

- YA, GMA News

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