When in Manila, experience art form at its best. Okay, as you go around Manila you will not, I repeat, as in not find any good modern architecture anymore. Most of the buildings here are basically old and look really bad plus the terrible traffic and chaos all around. I remember talking to my friend who is a tour guide, who took me on a quick tour around Manila. I realized that I love this city but it’s just sad that we don’t develop good buildings anymore. Maybe all the good architects have migrated to other countries, or we just lack the funds to make a decent building. If you get to talk to the old folks around Manila, they will always say one thing: “Manila was as it finest during Marcos‘ time”, and there is one building that still remains to be a proof of that statement.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines or the Sentrong Pangkultura ng Pilipinas is just one of the buildings you get to see when you visit the Cultural Center Complex which is found near Roxas Boulevard. This is basically the place where every Filipino dancer would want to perform, where every Filipino indie movie director would want to showcase his film, and where every Filipino opera singer would want to sing his heart out. In short if you want to go big locally, you must perform at the CCP. During the day, the CCP is swarmed with joggers and early morning exercise junkies, and at night if you’re lucky you can get to see the beautiful fountain display.
A little history lesson on the CCP. This gigantic building took 3 years to build, from 1966-1969. Designed by premiere architects during that time, Leandro Locsin and Ildefonso Santos Jr., and was the brainchild of former president Marcos through Executive Order No. 30 with the sole purpose of promoting and preserving Filipino arts and culture. Former first lady Imelda Marcos was also highly involved in this project and it remains as her most ambitious fund raising venture to date. Imelda Marcos collected $50,000 from ticket sales alone from a performance of “The Flower Drum Song,” she was also able to persuade President Johnson during their family’s state visit to commit $3.5 million from a $28 million Special Education Fund. Aside from this, before any of her parties, may it be an anniversary, a birthday or a simple holiday, she always told her guests to bring their checkbooks, expecting each to make donations — not just for the Cultural Center of the Philippines, but for her other projects as well.
Its inauguration in September 8, 1969 lasted 3 months with an opening by the musical The Golden Salakot: Isang Dularawan. The inauguration was also attended by the then California Governor and Mrs. Reagan who represented President Nixon.
“That center makes our Kennedy look cheap. The Filipino architects did a good job” – Henry Byroade, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, 1969-1973
That statement says it all. The CCP still looks grand even after 30 years. The wonders of the Cultural Center of the Philippines does not end outside. As I entered the CCP, I was literally in awe. A giant chandelier will greet you as you enter the main entrance, and inside there are 6 performance venues (Tanghalang Pambansa, Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, Tanghalang Huseng Batute, Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas, Tanghalang Manuel Conde), 6 exhibit halls (Bulwagang Juan Luna, Bulwagang Fernando Amorsolo, Bulwagang Carlos V. Francisco, Pasilyo Victoria Edades, Pasilyo Guillermo Tolentino, Pasolyo Vicente Manansala), the National Arts Center and 2 Satellite Venues.
The Bolshoi, Kirov, Royal Danish ballets, and all other German, American, French and Philippine contemporary artists have all performed here. But this does not mean that the best shows could have only been watched back in the day, you can still catch some the country’s best today. Here are some of the shows at the CCP this July:
CCP CHOREOGRAPHER’S CUP
A joint project of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Ballet Philippines, the CCP Choreographer’s Cup is a dance competition on neo-classical choreography with the theme: “The Ideal Woman”. For other information, visit the following website www.balletphilippines.org. or contact Ballet Philippines – 8323689, 821-1125 loc. 1622 or the CCP Dance Division – 832-1125 loc. 1602 / 1603.
Date: July 8-10, 2011
Venue: Tangahalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)
CINEMALAYA PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL AND COMPETITION
The CINEMALAYA Philippine Independent Film Festival . Various CCP venues
SYMPHONIE, THE CCP GUEST ORCHESTRA SERIES features FILharmoniKA
Gerard Salonga, Conductor
Composed of the finest musicians in the country, FILharmoniKA is gaining ground as a formidable classical ensemble, collaborating with the best Filipino and foreign popular and classical musicians.
Date & Time: July 26, 2011 8:00 PM
Venue: Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)
REYNALDO REYES CONCERT
Pianist Reynaldo Reyes performs in the second of his three-concert series featuring an all-Beethoven program at the CCP. 7:30pm
Venue: Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino(CCP Little Theater)
Although the CCP is still as an “unapproachable, imposing, and elitist” type of venue. The Manila Metropolitan Theater is also being restored to provide a culture and arts venue for the masses. So when in Manila, don’t forget to see Filipino art and culture at its finest.
Cultural Center of the Philippines
Pasay City 1300