December 13, 2004

REINERIO A. ALBA

Despite the spate of news of economic crisis for the country, the skies over the arts continue to brighten. The Gawad CCP para sa Sining awards has been revived this year, with the awarding ceremonies held on September 8 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The event fittingly coincided with the celebration of the institution’s 35th year anniversary.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines proudly wears its title as the country’s national center for the performing arts as it is also mandated by law to promote excellence in the arts through the initiation and implementation of activities that aim to improve and elevate standards among cultural workers, artists and audiences. Created through Executive Order No. 30 in 1966, it now houses several venues for the performing arts as well as areas for both permanent and changing exhibits. It is also home to the country’s premier performing arts groups like Ballet Philippines, Philippine Ballet Theatre, the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, UST Symphony Orchestra, and Tanghalang Pilipino.

The importance of the award, says CCP President Nestor O. Jardin, lies in its recognition of people who have achieved something for arts and culture in the Philippines. “It is proper for a government cultural institution like the CCP to recognize them. In so doing, you also encourage the young practitioners in their respective arts fields and cultural work to strive for the level of achievement and excellence. These awardees become role models for the younger ones to emulate. Indirectly, also, you are promoting the center and field of art and culture.”

The Gawad CCP Para sa Sining is the highest award given by the CCP to Filipino artists and cultural workers. The first Gawad CCP Para sa Sining was given posthumously in 1977 to Hubertus Kuhne for Cultural Administration, Kuhne being the head of the Goethe Institut in Manila at that time. The Award since then was given yearly until 1994. In 1996, the Award became the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining Pangtanghalan, reflecting the new thrust of the CCP as Center for the Performing Arts, instead of a Coordinating Center for all arts.

Former Gawad CCP Para Sa Sining Awardees include Hernando R. Ocampo (Visual Arts), Ben Cabrera (Visual Arts), Aurelio Estanislao (Music), Luis Valencia (Music), Cecile Licad (Music), Alice Reyes (Dance), Bienvenido Lumbera (Culltural Research), Onofre Pagsanghan (Theater), Ramon Obusan (Dance), Gilda Corder-Fernando (Publishing/Literature). It would be worth mentioning that many of the Gawad CCP Para Sa Sining Awardees in the past have become National Artists. Among them are Arturo Luz, Cesar Legaspi, Jose Joya, Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero, Daisy Hontiveros Avellana, F. Sionil Jose, N.V.M Gonzalez, Andrea Veneracion, Jose Maceda, Levi Celerio, Ishmael Bernal, Lino Brocka, and Eddie Romero.

The Gawad CCP Para sa Sining covers the following art forms: dance, music, theater, literature, film, visual arts, broadcast arts, technical theater and production design. The award also has three categories: Category A is for artists or group of artists who have consistently produced outstanding works or have evolved a distinct style or technique that enriches the development of their particular art form (under Category A also are artists or group of artists who are nationally recognized as outstanding in their field by virtue of winning in prestigious national or international art or literary competitions or being acknowledged as such by legitimate critics circles or by their peers); Category B is for artists who have made outstanding contributions to the culture of the region of their birth or residence; Category C is for outstanding cultural workers who, through their works in research, curatorship or administration, have helped to develop or enrich particular art forms or Philippine culture in general.

Another prized jewel in the Award is the Tanging Parangal ng CCP, which is bestowed on individuals or organizations in recognition of their outstanding efforts and contributions that have had a significant impact on the arts.

This year’s Gawad CCP Para Sa Sining are the late visual artist Santiago Bose (Visual Arts), writer Rene O. Villanueva (Literature), Francisco T. Mañosa (Architecture), choreographer Eddie Elejar (Dance), composer Ryan P. Cayabyab (Music), Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) founder Cecile Guidote-Alvarez (Theater), movie and stage director Peque Gallaga (Film and Theater), broadcast journalist Cheche L. Lazaro (Broadcast Arts), Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation, Inc. (Regional Cultural Work), the late columnist Doreen G. Fernandez (Cultural Research and Education); Mindulani, Inc. (Cultural Research and Advocacy) and Antonio O. Cojuangco (Arts Patronage and Cultural Promotion).

As a visual artist, the late Santiago Bose was known for his tireless experiments in the use of different media. For one, he pioneered in the use of indigenous materials such as bamboo nose flutes, driftwood, estampita (small pictures of Catholic saints, and the Holy Family), paper bills, and empty bottles in collage. He received a certificate of merit in the on-the-spot painting contest of the Shell National Students Art Competition in 1971. Bose was likewise a 1976 Thirteen Artists awardee, a grand prize winner for print by the Art Association of the Philippines in 1981 and a finalist in the 1982 Mobil Art Award. CCP held a retrospective of his works in April of this year titled “In Memory of a Talsiman,” which featured more than 80 works from the collection of the Bose family as well as from the local and international collectors and galleries.

A Palanca hall of famer and winner of five National Book Awards, Rene Villanueva is a pioneer in children’s literature in the Philippines. He has been honored by the International Jaycees Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) award for cultural achievement in 1993, and was one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) for drama and children’s literature in 1991. He was also the first Filipino contender for the International Hans Christian Andersen Award for Children’s Writer in Denmark. He is remembered also for his work as head writer and creative director of “Batibot,” a TV program for children.

Francisco Mañosa has actively promoted the use of native architectural forms and indigenous materials, such as bamboo and thatch, in the creation of a distinctively Filipino architecture. His notable works include the Tahanang Pilipino at the CCP Complex, the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace at the corner of Edsa and Ortigas Avenue, the Mary Immaculate Parish Church in Las Piñas City, the restoration of the historic Las Piñas Church, the stations of the Metrorail Transit System or Light Rail Transit in Manila, the development of the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City; and the development, restoration, and landscaping of Corregidor Island.

Eddie Elejar was the premier danseur of Pamana Ballet from 1966 to 1968, with Greta Monserrat as his partner. He formed Dance Theater Philippines with Julie Borromeo and Felicitas Layag-Radaic in 1968. He and choreographer Alice Reyes then jointly founded and directed the CCP Dance Workshop and Company, now known as Ballet Philippines. With Antonio Fabella, he founded and directed the Manila Metropolis Ballet from 1978 to 1988. In 1972, Elejar received the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan award from the City of Manila for his lasting contribution to Philippine dance.

Ryan Cayabyab, known as “Mr. C” in the music circle, won the Grand Prize at the first Metro Manila Popular Song Festival for the song “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika.” For his compositions, he has won three international grand prix awards: in the First Seoul Song Festival, in the Voice of Asia Song Festival in the former U.S.S.R., and in the Tokyo Music Festival.

A Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Public Service, Cecile Guidote-Alvarez founded the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), which became the production arm that implemented her concepts of theater training and dramaturgy. She received a UN Human Rights Day Award for Cultural Innovation by the Fund for Free Expression in 1985 and the Patnubay ng Kalinangan Award from the City of Manila. She revived the TV series “Balintataw” in the 1990s, and earned recognition from Gawad CCP, PMPC Star Awards, and is Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) Hall of Fame Awardee for Drama. Her work also earned recognition from CNN and Time Magazine. Guidote-Alvarez now sits as the Executive Director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Filmmaker Peque Gallaga has earned the respect of his peers for his work in production designs of critically-acclaimed films like “Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?”, “City After Dark”, and “Ito Ba Ang Ating Mga Anak?” He won the scriptwriting contest sponsored by the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines, a feat that became his passage to directing films. “Oro, Plata, Mata” remains his most significant achievement in film. He also received a Special Jury Award from the Manila International Film Festival and another award from the International Film Festival of Flanders-Ghent, Belgium, in 1983. Gallaga founded Maskara, a theater company in the University of St. La Salle (USLS) in Bacolod where he is also the Artist in Residence.

The multi-awarded Cheche Lazaro is the Founding President of Probe Productions, Inc., which produced highly-acclaimed TV programs such as “The Probe Team,” “The Good News”, “5 and Up,” “Gameplan,” “I-Witness,” “Cheche Lazaro Presents,” and “Art Is-kool”. Her other merits include the Dangal ng Lipi Award para sa Sining at Kultura given by the Provincial Government of Bulacan in 2003, the Silver World Medal for Television Documentary and Information Program on Social Issues/Current Events at the New York Festival 2001, and the KBP Golden Dove Awards for Best Female Public Affairs Host for “I-Witness” (2001), “The Probe Team” (1993), Best Program Promoting Culture and the Arts for “Cheche Lazaro Presents” (2001).

Based in Malolos, Bulacan, the Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation, Inc. (BKFI) is one of the leading community-based theater groups in the country, with Armando Sta. Ana as one of the founders and its current artistic director. BKFI actively participated in the First CCP National Theater Festival in 1992, and in various communities in the Visayas region as a featured performing group in the CCP Exchange Artist Program. BKFI has consistently promoted the cultural heritage of Bulacan, and has distinguished itself with the staging of original theater productions on the life and works of heroes and cultural workers in the region like Nicanor Abelardo, Jose Corazon de Jesus, Guillermo Tolentino, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Gregorio del Pilar, Trinidad Tecson, Francisco Balagtas, Francisca Reyes Aquino, Gerardo de Leon, Atang dela Rama, Amado Hernandez and Antonino Buenaventura. BKFI has also been able to tour these productions both nationally and internationally.

A prolific writer, the late Doreen Fernandez authored the following publications: “Iloilo Zarzuela:1903-1930” (1978); “In Performance” (1981); “Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture” (1994); “Face to Face: The Craft of Interviewing” (1995); “Palabas: Essays on Philippine Theater History” (1996); “Fruits of the Philippines” (1997); “Palayok: Philippine Food Through Time, On Site, In the Pot” (2000). She was likewise co-founder of the Babaylan Theater Group (1973) with Nicanor G. Tiongson, and the Cultural Research Association of the Philippines (1975).

Mindulani (Ani sa Dulang Mindanao), Inc. is an arts movement in Mindanao, involving theater groups, including indigenous and Moro performance groups, cultural practitioners in the academe and local government units, and arts councils. Having been rooted in the popular theater movement in the said region during the 70s and the 80s, Mindulani is best characterized by the unity of cultural workers at the time when arts and literature became the means to liberate the people from a culture of silence and repression. Mindulani resulted from a meeting among major Mindanaoan theater groups and institutions in 1982, which formed themselves into the Mindanao Community Theater Network (MCTN) in 1984. MCTN eventually evolved into Mindulani, which initiated the Mindulani Festival in 1998, Sambayan-Mindanao festival in 2000, the Sentrong Bayan ng Pangkultura at Sining, and the Theater-in-Education program, among other Mindanao-wide projects and activities.

During his tenure as President and Chief Executive Officer of PLDT, Antonio Cojuangco significantly helped in institutionalizing the corporation’s support for the arts which benefited hundreds of artists and arts organizations, and which set an example for the business sector to follow. Cojuangco currently chairs The National Museum, Ballet Philippines, Tanghalang Pilipino, and Radio Veritas. He continues to help promote Philippine arts and culture through film and broadcast media.

The revival of the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining is always a welcome occurrence, not that the country’s local artists and cultural workers badly need the recognition, but more because it acknowledges individual efforts, no matter how seemingly little, and its power, in the end, to sustain us as a people.