MANILA, FEBRUARY 7, 2004  (STAR) By Flora Lou C. Cadawas - In planning the national arts month this year, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (ncca) must have consciously addressed the need for "interaction" between art shows and their audiences. In previous years, a certain tinge in the colorful February celebration was lost either because the events were too few or because there were not enough people interested to view them.

This year’s celebration assuredly takes into consideration a variety of approaches to make more people experience and enjoy some of its best artistic events nationwide. Apart from the fact that the shows are varied enough in form and content, the NCCA is directing the events toward bigger audiences and at more varied locations than before.

Fittingly enough, the Arts Month was launched on Feb.1 in a popular television show, and the events are staged or performed by artistic members of the communities where they are taking place. The ncca has also adopted a theme that would be easily understood by anyone– "Sining Pinoy 2004" (Filipino Art 2004) aptly subtitled "Makilahok sa malikhaing sambayanan" (Join a creative nation).

"With the support of all the communities that we try to reach, the ncca is able to bring culture and the arts to a wider audience," says ncca Chair Evelyn B. Pantig. ncca officials led by Pantig stress that "creativity is the essence of the Filipino soul and the moving force behind everything that we do." And since creativity is an essential part of any Filipino community, says Pantig, it is easy enough to gather willing talents and audiences for cultural and art events such as those being spearheaded by the ncca this month.

The Arts Month events naturally showcase the almost boundless creativity of the Filipino nation. Consider the month’s major events:

• Cinema Paraiso 2 is a film festival on "Luha at Halakhak sa Pelikula at Lipunang Pilipino", highlighting the genres of comedy and drama. Organized by Asian Eye Productions Corporation and a banner project of the National Committee on Cinema, the festival starts screenings at 7 p.m. on Feb. 4 at the Tanghalang Leandro Locsin, ncca Building, Intramuros, Manila on Mondays to Fridays throughout February.

• Sayaw Pinoy is a nationwide dance concert of various dance forms to be participated in by at least six dance groups, three from the island clusters and three from Metro Manila. Included in the activity spearheaded by the National Committee on Dance is a forum tackling the various issues and concerns of the dance sector. The event is slated for Feb. 7 in Davao; Feb. 14-15 in Marikina City; Feb. 21 in Cebu; and Feb. 28 in Ilagan, Isabela.

• Cuerdas Nin Kagabsan (Strings of Unity) is a week-long international rondalla festival featuring performances, outreach shows, seminar-workshops, exhibitions, interactions, demonstrations of rondalla instrument building to be participated in by rondalla groups from the Philippines and around the world. Organized by the Developmental Institute for Bicolano Artists Foundations, Inc., it is a major project of the National Committee on Music scheduled on Feb. 8-14 in the Bicol region.

• Dionatext is a month-long poetry competition through message-texting using the "diona," an old form of poetry in the country. The event is organized by the Filipinas Institute of Translation, Inc. as a banner project of the National Committee on Literary Arts.

• Sungdu-an 3: National Tour is a convergence of local exhibits from Metro Manila, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, including a "Curators’ Forum" featuring the artists and curators of the exhibit. The event happens Feb. 15-29 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, organized by Anting-anting, Inc. and overseen by the National Committee on Visual Arts.

• Dalit ng Virtuoso is a dramatic ode to the traditional Filipino artists and how they revive the fading indigenous arts and crafts. This event is a major project of the National Committee on Dramatic Arts.

• Sining Pinoy 2004 Launching at the TV program S.O.P. at GMA7 at 12 noon on Feb. 1.

• Sining Pinoy 2004 Mall Launching at 4 p.m. on Feb. 1 at Ever Gotesco-Ortigas.

• Sining Pinoy 2004 Mall Show at 5 p.m. Feb. 7 at EDSA Shangri-La Plaza.

• Sining Pinoy 2004 Closing at A.S.A.P. program, ABS-CBN at 12 noon on Feb. 29.

• Writers Prize Awards Night at 6 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the ncca lobby, Intramuros, Manila.

At a glance the National Arts Month presents a myriad of other events reaching various communities up and down the country. Among them, in Metro Manila, are the Sining Pinoy Orchestral Community Concerts in Quezon City and Marikina, Eksena Eskwela in Intramuros, Kulturang Pamana: Parada, Tula, Awit at Iba Pa in Manila, and Pelikula at Lipunan at SM Megamall.

In other parts of Luzon, there are the Luntiang Baguio Community Art Festival, Panagbenga 2 poetry readings in Baguio City, Pasikat sa Munoz in Nueva Ecija, Kulintang and Claude Debussy in Magdalena, Laguna and CCP Main Theater, Timpuyog: Pamulinawen Festival in Laoag City, Suman Festival in Baler, Aurora; "Nang Mabasag ang Banga" in Sta. Maria, Bulacan, and Hinulnan Ni Daragang Magayon photo exhibit in Legaspi City.

In the Visayas, the events include presentations of Dila-ambong II in the cities of Iloilo, Pasi, Roxas, Kalibo, Bacolod, and Silay; "O Tagbilaran" in Tagbilaran City; Tangkuris in Sigma, Capiz; Creative Writing Workshop in Calbayog City, Tuba Ug Kanta: Tagay-tagay Kita! in Tacloban City, and Bigkas Binalaybay in UP Visayas.

In Mindanao, scheduled to open are the Weekend Artfest at Protech in Koronadal City, South Cotabato; Pandayan at Kulintangan, Cagayan de Oro City and Malaybalay City; Mag-Iririmaw Kita 2004 in General Santos City, and "Para Walang Unyon" in Western Mindanao State University.

Other projects slated for presentation during the month are the Traveling Sci-Art Competition Exhibit in Isabela and Surigao; Premiere of the Roberto Villanueva Video Documentary, and the Amado V. Hernandez Birth Centennial.

ncca Executive Director Maria Fina C. Yonzon likes to stress the fact that the ncca works hand in hand with the nation’s arts and culture organizations, educational institutions, business establishments, and individuals in holding the various initiatives in the arts in February every year in pursuance of its mandate under Presidential Proclamation No. 683 declaring February as the National Arts Month. Now on its 14th year, the National Arts Month has evolved from a Manila-centered festivity, to a truly national event enjoyed by communities in the three major island groups of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, featuring hundreds of artists from the seven fields — architecture, dance, film, literature, music, theater, and the visual arts.

The ncca also takes pride in presenting the official logo of the Arts Month: a flower, inspired by the traditional ukkil floral motif of the Sulu peoples. The design (by printmaker Pandy Aviado) is a stylized plant sprout, symbolizing the blossoming of Philippine art.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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