The Committee on Dramatic Arts (CDA) envisions a liberating theater that recognizes and respects cultural diversity among Filipinos towards enriching the national identity.

       In working towards this vision, the CDA forges partnership with theater organizations, cultural institutions, the public and private sectors.

       For the year 1998, the areas of concern were

  1. networking and cultural exchange – Networking, linkages and exchange are characteristic features of the coordinating work of the CDA and occurs in the regional, national and international levels. Through the festivals and other artist exchange programs, regional theater organizations and networks are strengthened.
  2. training and enhancement of artistic skills – The CDA sees the important need to hone the skills of theater artists and cultural workers in a continuing education program. Thus, training of old and new artists is vital.
  3. organizational refinement – Since the theater community has a big network, creating a support system which will service numerous theater groups is important.
  4. publication – There is a need to document and disseminate knowledge and information on theater experiences

Networking & Cultural Exhange

       In the INTERNATIONAL scene, the CDA actively participated during the Philippine International Theater Conference held from November 30 – December 2, 1998 at the Traders Hotel, Manila, Philippines. The Conference, a joint project of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, brought together theater scholars and practitioners to dialogue on the importance of theater in the 21stcentury, with particular focus on theater practices and concerns affecting cultural workers and artists in Asia.

       In the NATIONAL scene, the CDA spearheaded the “Theater Networking and Cultural Exchange Program” which coincided with the various regional theater festivals (August in Davao, October in Bohol, December in Laguna and December in Cebu). The inter-regional visits and performance-forum of artists-leaders and regional-based repertory companies aimed to strengthening regional ties. The exchange also served as a venue to enhance one’s capabilities—artistic and organizational.

       The LUZON Network’s festival “Lusong ’98,” last December, showcased the development of theater performances vis-a-vis the historical events from 1898 that shaped the realities of cultural work in Luzon. New and experienced groups from various subregions of Luzon presented their works in Los Baños Laguna. There was a horizontal exchange between the regions with the participation of groups from Visayas and Mindanao. The Forum among educators and theater directors served as a venue to identify and discuss possible resolutions to strategic issues related to the development and sustainability of cultural programs/organizations among local theater groups in Luzon

       “Saulog sa Sentenyal,” a project of the Visayas Theater Network, was a touring regional festival of musical theater in the Visayas. The concept of a touring regional festival facilitated inter-provincial cultural exposure. The first leg was in Bohol (November), second leg in Manila for the Philippine International Theater Festival (December), third leg in Luzon for Lusong ’98 (December) and last in Cebu. “Saulog” featured the following plays: “Biktoy” and “Papa Pablo” from Calbayog, “Dagon sa Hoyohoy” from Bohol and “Pag-higugma sa Yutang Natawhan” from Cebu. These works definitely enrich the Visayan dramaturgy.

Training/Enhancement of Artistic Skills

       From April to June ’98, the LUZON Theater Network and ARTIST, INC. (Arts Research and Training Institute in Southern Tagalog, Incorporated) conducted the SANAYSINING SUMMER ARTS SCHOOL. Two (2) course programs were offered: Mandudula [which aimed to mount a performance] and Malikhaing Guro [organize short courses using creative pedagogical tools]. Summer Arts School’s goal was to facilitate the development of a more structured arts education program based from the regional network’s rich cultural practices. Apart from training, SANAYSINING became a venue for exchange and interaction among artists, sharing of experiences to inspire each and everyone to pursue bigger achievements for Philippine Theater. The project involved 130 cultural workers from 7 center areas—Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Palawan, Bikol, Mt. Province, Laguna.

       The VISAYAS Theater Network conducted two region-wide workshops– Directing Workshop of Community and School-based Theater Groups in Eastern Visayas held in December 1998 and the Central Visayas Community Cultural Workers Theater Production Training Workshop held in May 1998. The directing workshop was intended for potential and practicing directors from various community and school-based theater groups in the islands of Samar and Leyte. On the other hand, the Central Visayas workshop was intended for cultural community practitioners and managers. The workshop had sessions on scriptwriting, acting, directing, creative movement and production design and management. Both workshops culminated with showcases of work-in-progress materials.

       The MINDANAO Theater Network led by MINDULANI initiated the “Capability Building and Cultural Exchange Program for Mindanao-based Theater Groups.” The project which started in September ‘98 provides subsidy for production and training for the production of new theater works in Mindanao. Ten (10) groups embarked on a coordinated cultural exchange and capability-building program to ensure the sharing of resources as well as the maximization of impact and effect of the various cultural initiatives in the region. The goal of the project is to (1) set-up support structures that shall contribute to and ensure the sustainability of theater work in the region (2) establish a regular training program & series of forum on Mindanao Dramaturgy for theater directors, writers and designers and (3) lobby for localization of relevant policies on culture and arts among the various local government units and social development councils in Mindanao.

       In the National Capital Region, the NCR Theater Training Series benefited at least 250 theater and cultural workers in the NCR in arts management, skills enhancement, organizational development or repertory theater guidance. The Training Series became the venue for creative interaction and exchange between professional theater groups and school, sectoral and community-based groups.

Production Grant

       Production grants were awarded for

  1. The provincial and regional tour of “Juan Adre” presented by the Sorsogon Community Based Theater Arts Foundation, Inc. The play essays the life and heroism of Juan Adre, a native of Donsol, Sorsogon.
  2. The cultural presentation of the “Ang Senakulo at Penitensiya” of Samahang Nazareno, Inc. (SNI) in celebration of its 38th year. SNI is involved in the preservation, nourishment and growth of tradition and culture developed by the people native to Cainta, Rizal thru the staging of the Pabasa, Penitensya and Senakulo.
  3. The tour performances of Kahayag Community Dance and Theater Company’s “Arkat A Lawanen.” As a part of the Mindaluni Festival, Arkat strengthens the Moro culture by way of capturing the authentic art form as expressed in the movements of the Maranao enhanced in the choreography of modern dance. Coming from an Maranao epic cycle, Arkat A Lawanen showcases the role of women during pre-historic times.
  4. The Mindanao tour performances of Sining Kambayoka Ensemble’s “Darangen:Kapmadali.” The performance heightens the awareness of the people of Mindanao about the different folk heroes of the region and promotes mutual understanding and peace among various cultural communities in the region.

Organizational Refinement

       To generate awareness in schools, communities and other sectors and generate a new set of sub-group representatives who shall promote enhancement of the theater practice and popularize cultural initiatives the NCR Theater Network has started preparations for the CDA-NCR CONGRESS ‘99. The congress aims to (1) achieve a sharing of theater expertise and engagement in a dialogue on theater practice in the NCR, (2) assess the NCR Theater Scene 1996-98, and (3) to evolve appropriate support structures for sustaining theater work and best cultural practice.


       In fulfilling NCCA objective of ensuring the dissemination of artistic and cultural products among the greatest number across the country and overseas, the CDA assisted in the printing of ANI 24 (Performing Arts Issue). ANI 24 is the 24th volume of a biannual journal on the culture and the arts published by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. ANI 24 records and documents:

  • the history of selected regional and city-based performing groups in theater, dance, music, performed literature;
  • the lives and memories of selected artists in the performing arts on their best performances/achievements and their observation on the production of works in their field;
  • reflections on selected events/performances

       ANI 24 promises to contain informative and entertaining articles. This 1999, the CDA priorities include

  • organizational development
  • institutional programs
  • training/capability building
  • children & youth theater
About the Author:
Amihan L. Bonifacio is Assistant Professor 2 at the Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts, UP-Diliman, the same school where she took up her masteral studies in Theater Arts. She is also Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas’ Assistant Director.