Every February, the Philippines opens its arms to art as month-long celebrations for National Arts Month commence. The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), high hand in art and culture, doesn’t hold back in its festivities to promote the celebration and appreciation of all art forms. Pasinaya, the biggest multi-arts festival in the country, is spearheaded by CCP as one of its main festivities for National Arts Month.
Now on its 13th run, this year’s Pasinaya featured over 300 artists and performances around the vicinity of CCP. The organizers have collaborated with various museums to showcase more of Filipino visual art, and for them to present the oneness of the arts community in the Philippines. With the theme ‘Arts for Peace’, this year’s Pasinaya truly made a statement that art should be continuously celebrated and appreciated, regardless if it’s National Arts Month or not.
Day one of the festival kicked off with a multitude of art workshops. As early as 10 am, tickets were already sold out for the public. Despite hundreds of people flocking to the cultural center, hundreds more lined up outside for a chance to participate in Pasinaya’s festivities.
Halls were crowded as everyone lined up for their desired workshops, each of which had only limited slots for participants. Theatres near the Pedro Bukaneg Street entrance gave way to workshops such as Learning How to Play Philippine Ethnic Instruments at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, while workshops like Printmaking and Learning the Basics of Classical Guitar were designated at the split areas of CCP’s Silangan Hall.
Aside from the number of people who sat back to watch the performances and workshop presentations, more people joined in on the dancing just outside the entrance to the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo. The dance workshops featured Hip-hop, Folk Dance, and Jazz, and were taught by different vaunted mentors in the field. Although a lot from the crowd wanted to be a part of the dance workshops, only forty participants were allowed for the sessions. For the remaining unlucky participants, they resorted to occupying the crowded hallways of the upper floors in the hopes of having a glance at the ones dancing below.
The whole area of the CCP complex was overflowing with art enthusiasts during the second day of the festival. There were also available service vans at people’s beck and call to bring them to partner museums like Metropolitan Museum, National Museum of Fine Arts, and Museo Pambata.
The day of Palabas started at 7:30 am, kickstarted by a pre-show at the Variety Zone (Bukaneg street). The show featured UP Pep Squad, La Salle Filipiniana Dance Company, and Teatro Ekyumenikal.
From the pre-show, the public started to drift off into the different zones as the whole of CCP was utilized to cater to the different genres of art. Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo was the destination for the performances of CCP’s resident companies, such as the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company, who awed the audience with their striking performances and accompanying stage productions. The theatre was filled with the sound of the melody of ethnic instruments, and applause from audiences amazed by the dances.
Boscorale and DepEd Traditional Music Ensemble, winners from 2016’s National Music Competitions for Young Artists, featured energetic sets that were not only impressively technical but endearingly Filipino as well. Folk dances, on the other hand, were situated at the ramp area just outside the entrance near the Main Theatre. Performers from Saint Louis University Dance Troupe, UP Filipiniana Dance Troupe, and Kaloob Philippine Music and Dance Ministry, among others, enthralled the audience by showcasing various performances and technicolored costumes.
The Little Theater lobby was home to the exhibit Homebound: A Survey of Angono Contemporary Art. The installation featured peculiar works such as stapler on wood and even a termite-eaten book. Arranged like a chessboard, the art works that hung on the walls transcended the sensual experience of art and crossed over to the tactile—as if the works themselves were coming to life.
The third and fourth floors held galleries and exhibits, one of which was Danilo Dalena’s Retrospective, which portrayed the Filipino life in its mundanity, sacredness, sexuality, and politics.
The eskinita area was another zone for a variety of performers. In the morning, the SNES Malaya Dance Ensemble featured children who danced folk to a full rondalla composed of children as well. Ukulele Philippines Ensemble, the only ukelele-centered band in the Philippines, performed a whole set composing of two original songs and covers of Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap and Ain’t It Fun by Paramore.
The University’s ambassadors for dance also presented in the eskinita as well; La Salle Dance Company-Contemporary showcased jazz while La Salle Dance Company-Folk performed Sagayan, Pigapir, Maglalatik, and Kinaransa.
For a fifty-peso art festival, this year’s Pasinaya experience surely did not disappoint. Full of vibrant performances, pleasing exhibits, and educational workshops, Pasinaya succeeded in achieving its main aim—for people to come together and celebrate the beauty of art, not just as a novelty, but as a part and parcel of everyday life. The best part, however, is the people and artists themselves who, like most, share the same passion and curiosity for the arts.