Archive for April, 2009

CCP: An Opus of 40 Years and More!

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, history, locales with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2009 by mijodo


curtain call for the "sleeping beauty" excerpt at ccp

(Author’s Note: Ms. Imelda Marcos seems to be in the glare of media again, owing to her inclusion in Newsweek’s greediest people. She may be notorious to many, but somehow she has made true contribution to Philippine Art and Culture through the development of CCP. After the postings on the Pasinaya to commence on CCP’s 40th year celebration ( ), and gallery of CCP’s art collection (, a posting is finally given to show a glimpse on the colorful history and background of CCP.)



“In that site, I will build the Cultural Center of the Philippines,” the First Lady Imelda Marcos said with pride to a foreign guest dignitary while on board a presidential automobile along the then Dewey Boulevard (Roxas Boulevard).


But the dignitary only saw the open waters of a bay. “How is that possible?” he muttered.


“Haven’t you heard of reclamation?” Imelda retorted back.


The whole scenario supposedly rang true more than four decades ago when Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos thought themselves as the Filipino mythic figures of “Malakas and Maganda.” (The Strong and The Beautiful”)  During this time, the Marcoses wittingly or unwittingly, started to develop personas which have been open targets of the political opposition and rebels. Ferdinand strengthened his cult like image through heavy handed or even dictatorial rule while Imelda took care of the supposed soul of the Filipino through artistic and cultural activities which some said were merely her eccentricities and caprices.


Imelda had a vision of putting up a national center for arts which was congruent with her favorite maxim during the later years of the Marcos Rule – “the true, the good, and the beautiful.”  But even in the early years of constructing the main theater of the CCP, many, particularly from the left leaning groups saw the whole project as extravagant whim and a total waste of government fund. The whole idea was seen as a symbol of profligacy and Marcos dictatorial ascendancy amidst the wasting economy and socio-political hardships.


But there was no stopping in creating a magnificent edifice above the waters of Manila Bay, as designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin.  The Main Theater was just part of the whole reclamation complex. In later years, Philippine International Convention Center, Folk Arts Center, and the Manila Film Center were erected under the helm of Imelda Marcos.


Although it was heavily criticized, CCP was able to showcase Filipino talents in a world class theater surroundings. Prodigies like pianist Cecille Licad were developed and honed under the auspices of CCP. Different dance companies in ballet and folkdancing were housed in CCP. Resident theater groups performing Filipino originals or foreign plays and musicals which were translated in Filipino language have been put up. During Imelda’s time, there was much dancing, singing and acting inside the different theaters of CCP. Art was buzzing although it could be said that art about politics and against the Marcoses was clearly suppressed.


As the Marcos regime abruptly ended in the middle 80s, the subsidy and support for the CCP from the next administrations have dwindled significantly. Art in general took a back seat in the agenda of the chief executives and partner spouses. CCP was on its own; it had to create its own finances which should support a plethora of plans and developments even if the interest of the audience has shifted to popular films, television and even malling.


Now CCP needs to become more relevant to the times, and try to appeal to an audience who might not be as highbrow as before and might not be as passionate as before. Hoping it can still develop a young appreciative audience at times CCP like any Filipino art and theater groups today, has to bargain their ticket prices and “coerce” elementary and highschool students to watch a performance,


Yet CCP is surviving and has thankfully reached its 40th year of existence.  CCP celebrates with a series of  special shows and programs and even gives a tribute to its foundress and true patron, Imelda Marcos entitled “Dahil sa ‘Yo” (Because of You), apparently the title as well of her favorite song.  Despite the gloom of the world economic crisis, and diminishing priorities of the Filipino family on traditional art, CCP forges on – tapping on the intrinsic musicality, the artistic brilliance, and healthy dose of  enthusiasm and liveliness of the Filipinos. Take a bow, CCP.


sacred vow

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, history, locales, people, religion, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2009 by mijodo

san jose celebration in our household

It is Holy Week. And somehow through the years, there is progressive diminishing solemnity on how Filipinos have spent such days. We can blame it on how people see it as opportunity to travel and do some rest and recreation. We can also point to cable television and the internet as sources of distraction. I remember the years when Holy Week meant  a lot of  bleakness, and sorrowfulness. And everything lightens up only during Easter Sunday. (But just the same, I am still wondering why there is extensive sadness during these days when Christ willingly allowed himself to die for all our imperfections. In fact Christ has triumphed over our inert evil ways.)

But there are still people who remain to be pious during the most hallowed days of the Lenten Season. And they do this with some ritualistic observance done to fulfill a promise. This is what we Filipinos call – Panata. There are many ways and rites to show devotion to the Lord. Pabasa is one panata where people in the community take turns in singing the Passion of Christ’s Crucfixion. Usually pabasa is done for the whole holy week.

Many times  a panata is started by one person, until the whole family becomes a part of it, and even continues it once the person who originally commenced the panata is not available. And it is possible that a whole community takes part of a particular panata such as in Pabasa and Cenakulo. 

There are other methods of doing panata. Some would go to 14 churches during Maundy Thursday and Good Friday for Visita Iglesia. Some would act and be part of a Cenakulo – a dramatization of Christ’s last days. And some would go to extreme – flagellate themselves, and even accede to nail themselves to a cross – just like what Christ had done. The Catholic Church has already expressed that such acts are violent and unwarranted.

Some panatas are ways to thank the Lord for His blessings and miraculous healings during the years. Some panatas are done for a wish to come true in the future. While some do their panatas for fear that some unexpected and bad things can happen once a panata is skipped. Just the same, these people see a panata as an overt expression of devotion to Christ, the Saviour. And yearly panatas are done for the rest of their lives.

But a panata is not exclusive to the activities done during holy week. Some would be called to go to Quiapo Church for the Nazareno devotion or even trek to Naga for the Penafrancia Festival and participate wholly for the activities.

In our case, my Mom celebrates San Jose, who is the carpenter-father figure of Jesus Christ. In our household, it has been done  for a few years now. But my mother says that her mother in her hometown in Iloilo had this panata   for many years. And somehow, mom wants to revive it in our family.

At first I find it a little weird. We have to look for people to represent St. Joseph, Mother Mary, and a young Jesus and dress them as such. Then after some prayer, they are to be fed food by other people. Then everyone has to take the hand of each significant participant and ask their blessings. Until now, I am still struggling to get the full meaning and sense of this custom afterall the responsibility of pursuing this panata can just fall on me, some time from now. Hopefully, I just don’t want this to be just a mere ritualistic continuation of my mom’s sacred vow.

Advanced Happy Easter everyone. Belated Happy Birthday Mom.