Pinagtawanan ako,” says Wilmer Guido of his father’s reaction when he announced his plan of building a theater. “He thought I was joking.”
Guido founded and runs Performing Arts and Recreation Center (PARC) Manila, a repurposed office compound along a side street in San Juan that’s now a space for intimate performances.
“The venue’s aim is to provide opportunities for artists, to increase performing arts’ impact on the youth and to cultivate a culturally competent society,” he says.
His father’s LED-billboards business was expanding and the 1,600-square-meter compound was about to be sold off. Guido requested that the building and lot be leased to him instead so he could transform it into an arts venue.
“It took a long time for me to convince my father, he’s a businessman after all,” he says.
This 24-year-old advertising management graduate from De La Salle University put his tuition to good use by making a feasibility study, conducting focus group discussions and crafting a business plan.
Guido’s findings show potential in filling the seats. “There are a number of schools in the area and we are in a family-friendly neighborhood.”
He notes that SM City Sta. Mesa, Greenhills Shopping Center, Araneta Center and Robinsons Magnolia are all one jeepney ride away.
With his father’s blessing, Guido established a foundation to run the venue. Some of the office spaces have already been converted for dance classes (jazz, contemporary, urban, movement meditation, etc.) and theater productions usually seating 200.
Recent shows include Egg Theater Company’s “Moliere PMS” and Twin Bill Theater’s “My Name is Asher Lev.”
The space is open for all manner of performances such as music, improv acts, spoken word, etc. It’s also available to rent for photo shoots, corporate events, even parties.
A classically trained pianist, Guido never had plans of becoming a venue manager. “I just saw an opportunity for it and took action.”
His former piano teacher Raul Sunico, current president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, is a trustee of the foundation.
Guido always keeps his father’s practical advice in mind. He established the business staff, finance director Samsam Santiago and marketing director Issay Nodalo, before recruiting artistic staff.
“We’re still new. We’re finding our ground and focusing on financial stability,” he says. Revenue needs to be generated not just to maintain the space, but also to build towards PARC Manila’s intended final incarnation.
Guido has hired WTA Architecture and Design Studio and plans to eventually construct a two-story black box theater with an adjoining coffee shop.
While parking is limited for now, there are plans to break down the compound’s posterior wall to allow access to the parking building behind it.
PARC Manila also wants to be a good neighbor by giving back to the community. Guido usually requests performing groups to have at least one show for free for public school students. The foundation also offers dance scholarships to public school students from the vicinity.
“Things are slowly taking off. It’s still difficult. I have a lot of sleepless nights, but my hope and love for our local performing arts keep the fuel burning,” he says.
PARC Manila will host workshops starting April 1 by theater companies Twin Bill and Scenius Pro on acting for adults, teens, children and backstage disciplines such as lighting design and stage management. Crammers Collective will also hold classes on using improvisational acting methods in teaching. —CONTRIBUTED
Call 09422816920. Visit TheParcFoundation.ph or Parc Foundation PH on Facebook. PARC Manila is at 141 Lt. Artiaga St., San Juan.