Latest Stories

‘I am 63. I can say what I like’

A lion of the stage contemplates his winter


PADILLA: “The arts programs should not be handled by politicians but should be left to artists and designers who will make them flower.”

The reprimands and raves from his colleagues have died down, and to Felix “Nonon” Padilla’s mind, he has said his final piece.

But his words are difficult to forget, let alone dismiss. They were said as part of his acceptance speech after receiving the Natatanging Gawad Buhay! Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philippine Legitimate Stage Artists Group, Inc. last June.

With his usual wit and candor, the man who founded Tanghalang Pilipino, CCP’s resident theater company, and ran it for 16 years, spoke bluntly about an issue that many silently felt had been crippling the growth of Philippine theater: political patronage interfering with or blocking actual creative choices. He named names and minced no words: “Much energy and saliva have been expelled toward organizing the CCP art institution into a well-oiled machine, subject to the whims and caprices of political appointees, who should have done better… than dabble in gossip in the boardrooms.”

Many who listened to or read about his speech wanted to know: After years of fighting it out by working within the system, then resigning in protest over what he believed was an injustice by management, and spending the years after quietly directing productions for other companies, why finally air out his sentiments publicly and turn an act of celebration into a soapbox?


“It was an advocacy,” Padilla replies quietly, shrugging aside the accusations that he gave in to submerged feelings of resentment and bitterness. “They did not like the idea that I made [the acceptance speech] into a platform. It’s like a campaign for people to be aware that the arts cannot be subjected to politics. In governments and organizations in countries like France and England, the arts programs are not arbitrarily handled by politicians but are left to artists and designers who will make them flower.

“People have said I am simply bitter,” he says. “I am trying to set it straight. For me, [the speech] is a historical document where I had to set things straight for the record.”

Perhaps there is no better time than the present, or, to be more specific, the night he was finally recognized for his contributions to the dramatic arts.

“I am 63,” says Padilla. “My career technically is over. I can say what I like, and the people who have done this are not [in CCP] anymore.”

This September, Padilla’s new production opens—“Lorenzo,” a contemporary opera about the Filipino martyr and saint, written by Paul Dumol to the music of Ryan Cayabyab, and produced by acclaimed film actor Christopher de Leon’s new production company, the Green Wings Entertainment Network, Inc.

He still dreams of directing a “Macbeth,” “Hamlet,” or the full nine hours of the Greek epic “Oresteia.”

The winter that he thinks is encroaching will not stop him from doing what he loves to do: “This is my life,” he says. And for his art, he will say what he feels needs to be said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Felix “Nonon” Padilla , Nonon Padilla , Paul Dumol , Ryan Cayabyab , stage play , Tanghalang Pilipino , Theater , ” Philippine Theater

  • koneksyon_manila

    BRAVO, Mr. Felix Padilla – your sentiments, your ideals, your position, your advocacy are all noble!!!!!. BUT, we all can remain JUST in prayers with you…….

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. World bids Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Adios’
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  5. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  8. Garcia Marquez left unpublished manuscript
  9. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  10. Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  5. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  6. This is not just a farm
  7. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  10. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • Napoles tags over 100 officials in pork scam – Lacson
  • Vitangcol to sue Czech envoy
  • Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  • 43 out of 414 Etihad passengers yet to be found, tested for MERS-CoV – Palace
  • Maid confesses in killing of 2 and stabbing of employer in Laguna
  • Sports

  • UP nips St. Benilde; Adamson blasts RTU in Filoil women’s caging
  • Kevin Garnett responds to Raptors’ GM F word
  • Albert Pujols hits 500th HR of major league career
  • UST posts twin kill in Filoil pre-season cup opening day
  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Bollywood Oscars, film stars come to Florida
  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Business

  • SM to rebuild Tacloban hospital
  • PSEi slips after 4-day rally
  • Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles, outselling GM
  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos coming home from Mideast must obtain MERS clearance – DOH
  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • China won’t budge, wants PH gov’t to apologize to HK