By Sara Grace C. Fojas
Images by Faith Yangyang
In the quiet province of Bataan, famous for its historical landmarks such as Corregidor Island, Mt. Samat, Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, and Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, is a singing group named Koro Bangkal composed of young Aetas from Abucay, Bataan that will serenade you with their enchanting voices.
The group’s harmonious rendition of Moira de la Torre’s “Tagpuan” was greeted with applause and cheers during the opening of the National Arts Month (NAM) 2019 last Feb. 11 in Bagac, Bataan.
Their performance, along with the short historical play of the Japanese occupation in the Philippines by Tanghalang Tatsulok, traditional musical arrangements played by Udyong Rondalla and Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Bataan’s Banda Kawayan, and a medley of Filipino dances by the students of Bataan National High School Dance Troupe and Las Casas Dancers created a night of merrymaking with the people of Bataan, savoring the world-class talent of the Filipinos right at the center their hometown.
The night ended with everybody dancing to our local music and watching a film entitled Juana and the Sacred Shores as part of Cinema Rehiyon Film Festival.
“We’ve been doing this celebration every year in the key cities of the country like Manila, Cebu, Baguio, Iloilo, and Cagayan de Oro. This is the first time we did it in Bagac, Bataan. We at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) really wanted to spread out our arts and culture in the different parts of the country. The province initially invited us for a mural painting activity, and we suggested turning it instead into a grand celebration for the NAM 2019,” says Teddy Co, head of the NCCA Subcommission on the Arts (SCA).
Aside from the performances, art was spread all around the province, like the art installation made of scrap metals at the capitol ground of Balanga, Bataan created by Guhit Pinas depicting the two festivals of Bataan: Ibong Dayo and Pawikan Festival. On the way to the municipal grounds of Bagac, Bataan, along Gov. J.J. Linao National Road were mural paintings also created by Guhit Pinas that tells the stories of 12 festivals the province is celebrating every year.
“We should keep on honing the skills of the Filipino youth when it comes to arts and culture, especially here in Bataan. Though our province is known for our beautiful beaches, if we cultivate these art skills, Bataan will be even more progressive. Soon, we will put up the National School for the Culture and Arts in Bataan for high school and college students,” says Ver Alonzo, councilor
The colorful celebration was part of the grand opening of the 2019 National Arts Month celebration in Bagac, Bataan, led by the NCCA chairman National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario, executive director Rico S. Pableo, Jr., deputy executive director Marichu G. Tellano, National Committee on Cinema Teddy Co, in cooperation with Bellas Artes, a non-profit and non-collecting institution in Bataan that supports and engages with art.
The theme of the festive event, “Ani, Pag-aari” under the NAM 2019 theme “Ani ng Sining,” emphasizes the richness of artistic endeavors in the Philippines and the passion of Filipino artists and cultural workers. The month-long celebration offers a wide array of events and activities aimed at celebrating a bountiful harvest of Philippine arts as well as inspiring Filipinos to immerse in and appreciate the diversity of cultural expressions, insights, and creativity.
“The theme ‘Ani ng Sining’ is the harvesting of the different kinds of art in the Philippines and celebrating them over and over again so that the Filipino people will not forget their beauty and uniqueness. All Filipinos are talented and with this celebration we want them to never stop creating. Art is food for the soul and we should never stop making art,” says Co.
Ani ng Sining: Philippine Arts Festival will be composed of various flagship projects of NCCA’s SCA seven national committees: Architecture, Cinema, Dance, Literary Arts, Music, Dramatic Arts, and Visual Arts. The projects will be held in different venues over the country.
Apart from the opening in Bagac, NCCA also held opening ceremonies for NAM at the Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo for the National Capital Region (NCR), Bago, Negros Occidental for the Visayas, and Koronadal City, South Cotabato for Mindanao. Each event was a plethora of activities such as exhibits, workshops, shows, concerts, lectures, tours, and more.
The celebration will close with Ani ng Dangal (Harvest of Honors) Awards that recognizes artists who have earned international awards and a c c o l a d e s during the past year to be held at the Diamond Hotel, Manila, on Feb. 27.
The National Arts Month Artistic Committee is led by Subcommission on the Arts commissioner and head of the Cinema Committee Teddy Co; Shirley Halili-Cruz, head of the National Committee on Dance; Dr. Hope Sabanpan-Yu, head of the National Committee on Literary Arts; Rosanna Quesada-Palm, head of the National Committee on Dramatic Arts; Architect Rogelio Caringal, head of the National Committee on Architecture and the Allied Arts, Dr. Mauricia Borromeo, head of the Committee on Music; and Egai Talusan Fernandez, head of the National Committee on Visual Arts.