The Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Outreach and Exchange Program celebrated its 35th year with a series of regional exchange tours.
Tours started last September with the Visayas tour of three leading performing groups from Luzon—Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation of Bulacan, Baao Children & Youth Choir of Bicol and Lahing Batangan Dance Troupe of Batangas City.
I joined in the second site of the Mindanao tour from Nov. 6-9 in Tagum City, Davao del Norte. Three prominent performing groups from the Visayas— Dagyaw Baile of the Iloilo National High School; Kabataang Silay Rondalla Ensemble of Silay City, Negros Occidental and the University of the Visayas Chorale of Cebu City—collaborated to showcase the best of Visayan culture.
The CCP Cultural Exchange Department partnered with Musikahan sa Tagum Foundation Incorporated. Alma Uy, Musikahan chair and president, said she was happy that CCP recognized her foundation as one of its regional arts centers in Mindanao.
“The competition for music is more on the western kind like rock music, through the CCP Outreach and program, we are able to educate the youth on other kinds of music,” said Uy. She added she hoped the CCP Outreach would come two to three times a year to bring artists from different art forms, so that the people of Tagum City could achieve a higher level of culture and arts appreciation.
At University of Mindanao gym, the groups performed. Despite the fact the students came from a performance in Davao del Norte about an hour away, and their bus malfunctioned three times along the road, they did not show any sign of fatigue at all.
The Kabataang Silay Rondalla opened the show with high energy and performed several Filipino pieces. But what made the student audience sing with the rondalla was “Let It Go,” the popular song in the movie “Frozen.” Dagyaw Baile were very fluid in shifting from ethnic, to contemporary to ballet pieces.
The University of Visayas Chorale sang impressively.
On their collaboration with CCP Outreach program, Kenneth Lirazan of UV Chorale said that they feel very blessed to have been chosen to join the tour.
Jegger Anjao of the Kabataang Silay Rondalla said it was an honor to be asked by CCP to join the Visayan tour.
Ria Española, artistic director of the Dagyaw Baile of the Iloilo National High School, said the group had been out of the mainstream for 10 years and was happy to be part of the tour.
The last phase of the regional exchanges featured four well accomplished performing groups from Mindanao—MSU Kabpapagariya Ensemble and RMMC Teatro Ambahanon of Gen. Santos City; Helubong Community Dance Troup of Lake Sebu; Mebuyan of Davao City and Bayang Barrios. They toured Luzon (Batangas, Baguio City and Malolos, Bulacan) on Nov. 12-19.
“We are happy and proud to have served as catalysts for regional cultural development by providing opportunities for the regional artists to achieve excellence,” said Chinggay Bernardo, manager of the CCP Cultural Exchange Department.
“Lakbay Sining touring program has made an extensive promotion of the arts all over the country,” she explained. “We bring the artists to far-flung areas to perform and showcase in parks, plazas, school gyms, hospitals and even in cockpits.”
She explained the outreach program had helped local arts and community organizations to professionalize their cultural work and arts management through workshops, seminars, forums and conferences.
The program has likewise built strong linkages and maintained active networks around the country and even abroad. “Without these partners,” Bernardo said, “it will be almost impossible to implement the programs given the very limited resources we have.”
She added the program was seeking to expand international cultural exchanges and pursue cultural awareness programs to cater to Filipino overseas workers. “Our work is a very challenging journey,” she said.