A little over two hours away from Manila is the Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija.
It is technically a center of scientific research on agriculture thus the presence of the Philippine Rice Research Institute and Philippine Carabao Center along with the offices of the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension and the National Freshwater Fishery Technology Center.
But Mayor Nestor L. Alvarez, thinks the arts and research can peacefully coexist with good results.
Thus, the periodic visits in the city of theater groups, ballet companies and symphony orchestras, the last visit of which featured the Manila Symphony Orchestra with no less than pianist Cecile Licad as soloist.
As far as one can recall, no other city in this country has hosted the country’s oldest orchestra and a world-class soloist in one setting.
In a recent visit, one was treated to the komiks-inspired choreography of Gener Caringal featuring the Philippine Ballet Theater.
But the most refreshing finale was the dazzling numbers of the Bungkos Palay Dance Group subsidized by the city government since 2004.
The 13-year-old dance group is the brainchild of Alvarez, who continues to expose his constituents to the best in the performing arts.
“Some members of that dance group became members of Ballet Philippines, and one has made it to Hong Kong Ballet,” Alvarez said.
He showed us the new 500-seater Estrada Hall at the Philippine Carabao Center, which is perfect for intimate recitals.
For Alvarez, the arts should be experienced and not just lectured in school convocations. “The visit of Cecile Licad here opened the eyes of residents that classical music is not an abstract idea.” –CONTRIBUTED