Sunday, February 3, 2008

Pasinaya 2008: CCP Open House Festival

Discovered about this mega-celebration by accident! Hmm, is this probably a proof that accidents can open up new avenues to enjoying life in this country?! Whaddever! This time, my little accident of a discovery was the Pasinaya 2008, Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) Open House Festival. Wow! And truly a WOW!

It all started with my frantic search on the web last Friday looking for a quick and easy destination (a.k.a near and not tiring) that I can visit on a Saturday (02FEB08) since I had a party to attend in the evening. I was thinking I would probably be wasted the whole of Sunday due to that party hehehe, so a “light” roaming activity was I thought good to have that Saturday.

How did I find out about this festival?
As I surfed on, I chanced upon some website that mentioned an event called SARI-SARING SAYAW, SAMA-SAMANG GALAW for Saturday at CCP. I told myself I would give that info to a friend who is a dance fanatic! Since it displayed the numbers, I called them up. It was CCP all right but (since my friend is into the modern types of dances) I still asked for more details like what about, which venue and how much. I found out overwhelmingly more!

This dialogue (in English) changed my weekend:
… after explaining what it was (the Saturday affair), the lady said: “Sir, if you want to see more than that, may I suggest you come on Sunday, February 3. You can even bring the whole family”. I asked why and she explained: “it is the open house of the CCP, all venues will have simultaneous activities even up to the grounds outside the building and free-of-charge. CCP will only ask for the usual donations at the main entrance”.

And she added this: “yan tinatanong nyo po is just one of the many attractions and activities on Sunday”. My eyes grew wide as I listened to that lady and I almost told her to stop since she had already convinced me! As she spoke, I quickly went to the CCP website and saw what she meant.

My weekend plans had to be quickly rehashed into something like:
- find a daytime activity for Saturday (will also write something about this)
- don’t drink too much at the party and go home early
- wake up early on Sunday and head to CCP. Event starts at 10AM
The second item above was hardest to do! And party friends were surprised I was going slow and easy! And the joked that age was already catching up on me!

The EventS and Activities
Let me first clarify that while I am no culture or arts fanatic, I do have some genes that pay a little respect on things about my heritage! I am making that clarification because… when I say this event was BIG… I am not exaggerating and cannot even imagine what this one-of-a-kind festival was, to the culture vultures, dance fanatics, music lovers and artists! To me who does not even dance nor have danced, indeed it was a grand whole day of a grand festival!

So, with some family and some friends, we trooped to the Cultural Center of the Philippines to try to catch the 10AM opening ceremonies. It did not start on the very dot and thankfully so because we were just a little bit late. The talks, if any, were short and crisp and performances already started as early as at this time. Dancers were all over the grounds that front the complex just beside Roxas Boulevard where the audience (that’s us) crowded to watch them. The performers sweated it out in the morning heat – even if the sun was behind some grayish tint. A nice and soft crowd drawing, really. The spectacle started with a dance opening ritual expertly executed by the famed Ramon Obusan Dance Troupe.

Then it was a “run where you wish to” scrimmage! Oh my goodness! A part of me I was torn between panic and exasperation while another part of me was torn between serious cultural education and fun learning!

This was cultural immersion, education via spectacular activities occurring all at the same time at different venues of no less than the CCP. Ahhhhh! One of my companions wanted to chop himself into pieces as many as the simultaneous events! The technique that we did was to spread ourselves amongst the various activities and just try to catch the repeat of other sessions – if still available.

Let’s titillate your imagination at how the events went. Imagine you were at the venue last Sunday and here were some of the activities:

1) Lahing Batangan Dance Troupe of Lyceum Batangas performs Sari-saring Sayaw at the lobby of the Main Theater (Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo). That’s the main lobby. And yes that’s “ground floor” since the basis is the main lobby after climbing that very prominent and famous elevated driveway.

2) The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (yes the PPO) starts playing Selections from Titanic at the Little Theater (Tanghalang Aurelio V. Tolentino). That’s at the upper basement – a big level down to the right from the main lobby or a level up to the left if you entered at the building’s side entrance (across Harbor Square).

3) “VIRTUOSOS 2008”, Voices Through Time: The Chiang Kai Shek College Youth Choir is performed at the Studio Theater (Tanghalang Huseng Batute) and that is at the Upper Basement which is a right turn if you entered the side entrance and a further walk amongst many other doors and hallways if you came from the main lobby!

4) The Harlequin Theater Guild plays the “SIMBUYO II” at the Bulwagang Amado V. Hernandez also at the Upper Basement near the Studio Theater.

5) The “BALLETFEST” by the Claravall School of Dance is happening at the Bulwagang Francisca Reyes Aquino. And you can find it after some twists and turns down so many hallways, offices and other facilities (only for you to find out that it’s already the southern end of the building)

6) “LEARN BALLROOM DANCING IN AN INSTANT” by the Professional Dance Teachers Association is conducted way high up at the 4th floor of the building just beside Museo Ng Kalinangang Pilipino. Actually the big room is still part of the Museum. You can take the elevators and find your way or take the escalators and land near the entrance or take the so many flights of red-carpeted winding grand stairs!

7) As part of the Sari-saring Sayaw, the Sandiwang Kayumanggi Dance Troupe is performing on Leandro V. Locsin Street! Yes, that’s behind the main building of the CCP nearby the police station and just in front of the Production Design Center Building. Yes, that’s out in the open and yes, that’s still part of the CCP, since this whole complex is anyway!

8) Oh, CINEMALAYA is showing a full-length film – Sockie Fernandez’s “GULONG”. And that unreels at The Dream Theater or Tangahalang Manuel Conde. Yes it’s also commonly referred to as the Audio-Visual Room - though I find it too huge for a normal AV-Room hehe!

9) Ah, did you say you’d be happy to roam around this big facility and know about where is what in CCP? There is a free Building and Theater Tour – only for today! You’ll have to run and get listed at that desk by the Little Theater Lobby (Tanghalang Aurelio V. Tolentino Lobby)

Go back up and count. Those were 9, yes NINE great activities but you may watch only one! Why? They all happened/began/started/commenced at exactly 11:00AM! Some were followed by other performances or activities; some were as long as until noontime; others even beyond lunchtime! Schedules for the whole day were generally like this! Ahhhhhh!

But no great worries as some of those programs/shows would usually be repeated at another time slot, sometimes even at another location within the CCP.

And hey, those were just the ongoing events aside from the booths of each of the performing groups participating in this festival! And there still were a lot of static must-sees like the galleries at the 2nd floor (Pasilyo Vicente Manasala or Vicente Manasala Hallway) and 3rd floor (Pasilyo Guillermo Tolentino or Guillermo Tolentino Hallway) awash with great artworks and informative displays about CCP.

Then there still is the Museo Ng Kalinangang Pilipino with their recent installation called “DIWA: Buhay, Ritual at Sining” of our dear forebears. That’s when you immediately turn left upon entering the museum. Because in front of the main door and to the right is an installation displaying “Asian Traditional Musical Instruments”. Yes, I loved those percussion things!

Finally, there is the Main Gallery also called Bulwagang Juan Luna where a lot of paintings and, carvings, sculptures of various media abound in all of its 400++ square meters. The installation in this gallery is for the benefit of deaf children. So those artworks are to be auctioned off soon!

You can go over the copy of the festival’s schedules to review the dizzying list of must-sees occurring all at the same time until afternoon!

Remember, the main event of the day (yes, it was a ticketed event – P300 any section) happened at 3:00PM at the main theater titled “GALAW GALAW… FILIPINO SOUL IN DANCE (Sari-saring Sayaw, Sama-samang Galaw 2008)” where all the performing groups altogether created a 2 hour spectacular you’d wish you could be allowed to take a video of! Really the soul of the Filipino in various sounds, movements, feelings!

What capped the whole day? FUN! As in all performing groups were asked to run outside to where it all started (the building’s circular driveway) where they dance to a single modern beat in their various colorful costumes or lack of it (like the topless guys of the Ambahanon) and were called to take a final bow. After that… it took just a hint of encouragement and the whole public was mingling with the performers to dance, learn more demo moves, chat, laugh, have pictures taken and just swing to the grove alternating between modern club music and the Philippine Marine’s Drum and Bugle Team!

What a day!

Now my notes!
(as usual di pa ako tapos, I write lengthily, remember?)

This is a great event. It should be marketed not only to students, but even to the working class. It may have been marketed so, but I did not hear about it – so I assume they could have done more on this aspect – enticing companies or corporations to come and watch – for indeed this is something to be proud of or just mesmerize yourself about!

I now even ask myself: does learning about culture and arts stop after high school? My very own answer is: NO WAY! But how come such things are just marketed to schools. The working class does need to be reminded of their culture since they may have forgotten about those after graduation. The working class too would be in a better position to understand and appreciate the significance of our arts, histories and cultures – not the elementary and high school kid who is obviously just complying with a requirement and will seldom cherish what they experienced.

Anyway, to contradict myself… I can’t imagine what CCP would have been if the thousands of kids who were in attendance were joined by people from the working class! My golly it could have been chaotic hehe! On my own estimate, the spectators at this event were something like 9 kids to an adult.

Am proud to note though that amongst the adults I saw, probably a third were foreigners – especially at the main lobby where they also crouched and cramped to take pictures of the performances! Whew!

Now now… while it is not mentioned above, I had fun learning things about choral music c/o no less than members of the Philippine Madrigal Singers! Yep, you heard it right, The MADZ! Part o the day’s program was something called “Learn To Sing with the Philippine Madrigal Singers”! And you guessed it, we got a crash course on choral singing and yep, I learned a lot! Like what? Like “your instrument is your voice” so you take care of it; “breathing is important in singing”; “controlling the airflow”; “singing high notes is not the same as shouting”; “vowel migration”’ “listening is important”; if you cant reach the tone, STOP singing”; and so many things else!

Hey, did you know that the signature “sitting-while-singing” style of the MADZ has a historical value? Yep, aside from the fact that we all think it is their way of showing off that they can still sing well at such an uncomfortable stance, they’re actually emulating medieval practice! Here goes:

“… back in the medieval era where the upper-class (the “rich & famous” or the “alta-sociedad) were (and expected to be) the best musicians, dancers or singers… choral singing would usually be done while sitting down… these would usually be after dinners/banquets where the conductor would come out to hand sheets containing what was to be sung... and the singers would read/sing them at their dinner positions… the conductor cannot just demand that they “the nobility” stand up to sing…”. And so goes the story!

Now now, I hear this has been (and going to be) a yearly event, so let’s watch for it February next year. Why February? If you have not known yet, February is the “National Arts Month” legislated via Presidential Proclamation No. 683 since 1991.

See you there?!

1 comment :

  1. wow! it must be fantastic over there - nice pictures - tnx